Attorneys representing Rep. Katie Hill, D-Calif., on Thursday sent a “cease and desist” letter to the DailyMail, demanding the British tabloid remove from its website nude photos that it claims depict the freshman congresswoman, and that Hill claims were published without her consent, according to reports.
Lawyers Marc Elias and Rachel Jacobs of the firm Perkins Coie wrote to DailyMail executive editor Candace Trunzo on behalf of Hill, threatening swift legal action if the photos — one of which purportedly shows Hill naked with a bong —were not immediately taken down.
Attempts by Fox News to reach Perkins Coie late Thursday were unsuccessful.
“This letter serves as notice that civil and criminal laws prohibit the publication of images of the character you have posted, and that our client is prepared to take all necessary means to protect her rights and to protect herself from an unprecedented, unwarranted and extraordinary offensive invasion of personal privacy,” the lawyers wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Hill.
DailyMail published a series of nude photos Thursday, which the newspaper claimed showed Hill and a female former campaign staffer. The story comes after website RedState.com reported last week that Hill, who is openly bisexual, had developed a “long-term sexual relationship” with the unnamed staffer, who ultimately entered into a “throuple” with Hill and her husband, Kenny Heslep — who has since filed for divorce.
Hill admitted to an “inappropriate” relationship with the staffer before she took office in 2018 but denies any romantic affair, something that would have violated House rules, and has apologized to constituents, Politico reported. The House Ethics Committee is conducting an investigation into the allegations, the Washington Post reported.
Hill’s attorneys on Thursday also vehemently denied allegations made in the DailyMail story that one of nude photos proves Hill has a “Nazi-era Iron Cross” tattoo. Elias and Jacobs argued the British tabloid was guilty of defamation for such claims, making grounds for a libel suit in the state of California.
“The claim that Representative Hill has Nazi imagery on her body in the form of a tattoo is false and defamatory,” Elias and Jacobs said, according to Politico. “We demand that you immediately cease and desist the publication of these abusive and spurious images. The continued publication by your outlet or others of these images will warrant legal response.”
“You have also exposed your publication to grave legal consequences for California has some of the strongest criminal laws in the United States against the secretive generation and distribution of private, sexual images,” Elias and Jacobs continued. “The California Penal Code accordingly makes it a criminal offense to ‘intentionally distribute the image of the intimate body part or parts of another identifiable person.’”
RedState also reported that Hill had an extramarital affair with Graham Kelly, her male legislative director and former campaign-finance director, for at least a year. According to RedState, the alleged affair was why Heslep, who married Hill in 2010, filed for divorce. Hill has denied the alleged affair with Kelly. The RedState story included one nude photo, but it was unclear if Hill’s attorneys would send a “cease and desist” letter to the conservative blog in addition to the one sent to DailyMail.
Also Thursday, Hill said U.S. Capitol Police are “investigating the situation and potential legal violations of those who posted and distributed the photos.” She said the photos included her and “another individual” and declined further comment. Hill is vice chair of the House Oversight Committee and a freshman liaison to Democratic leaders. She unseated an incumbent Republican in 2018 and is one of the few openly bisexual members of Congress.
Fox News’ Joseph Wulfsohn and The Associated Press contributed to this report.