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If you, like every other fair-minded reader in the country, found yourself vomiting over the sickly sweet, 3600-word valentine the New York Times just bestowed upon disgraced former Congresswoman Katie Hill, consider performing a thought exercise.
The premise of the story is that Hill was unfairly chased from office, the victim of a double standard that forgives male adultery. We know this because the Times quotes Ms. Hill’s gaudily self-serving sorry-not-sorry resignation speech, in which Hill says she is quitting “because of a double standard.”
Ok, first, no one “chased” her. After photos appeared picturing Ms. Hill canoodling with a campaign aide while smoking a bong, the first-year rep resigned almost immediately. So quickly, in fact—and against the advice of both Republican and Democratic colleagues—that many assumed the reason was fear of what the Congressional ethics inquiry would uncover. In addition to the campaign aide she was pictured smooching, according to Red State, which broke the original story (and was denied a valuable authority boosting link by the Times) and The Hill, the House Ethics Committee would also be “investigat[ing] allegations that Katie Hill had improper relationship with staffer.” Meaning a Congressional staffer, which is a more serious breach than an affair with a campaign subordinate. But put aside the forced-from-office narrative.
If you want to talk about a real double standard, just try to imagine the way the Times would have considered the career of a Republican man who’d resigned from Congress after a similar scandal. Would his one year in office warrant a 3600-word reconsideration in the Style section? Let’s suppose he had a tattoo of a nazi symbol on his nether regions. Does anyone think the Times would bury that adorable little detail in the middle of the story and excuse it, literally in a parenthetical phrase, because the offending mark “had long since been covered over”? Yeah, I don’t think so, either.
But just in case you thought the Times wasn’t being toothy enough in its investigation of Ms. Hill’s historic year in office, consider not just what the newspaper left out, but all that was included. We learn, for instance:
- “Ms. Hill’s closet in Washington. Like many people’s, it is filled with officewear she may not need for a while.” That’s a quote. In a newspaper.
- She calls the bright red suit she wore for her resignation a “battle uniform” and her red lipstick “war paint.”
- Such clever turns of phrase are hardly surprising when one considers how well-read the thirty-something warrior is. How do we know this? There’s a close-up of “Ms. Hill’s bookshelf,” featuring For Whom the Bell Tolls (Answer: Thee), the Complete Works of William Shakespeare and not one but two books by Ms. Hill’s spiritual godmother and fellow chronicler of California’s demise, Joan Didion.
- She’s got an adorable cat who was given to her by Christine Pelosi (and yeah, begrudging kudos to NYTimes photo caption person who came up with “Archie, bunker”). And also a lamp. Cuz you know, news.
- But just in case you thought a 32-year-old who’s writing a memoir and hosting a podcast and raising money for a PAC is, you know, maybe a little too into herself, we learn that when her mother required emergency brain surgery, the former congresswoman took time off from her many activities and “flew home immediately.”
The inescapable conclusion: Katie’s so nice!
Unfortunately, the Times spent so much room chronicling Ms. Hill’s deep reading and sick mother visiting that it failed to find space, even in an exhaustive story– did we mention this profile was 3600 words? About 360 words for each of the ten months she served in Congress – to consider Ms. Hill’s most lasting legacy.
When Katie Hill defeated two-term Republican Steve Knight in 2018, California political watchers viewed the seat as part of a tidal wave of permanent blue. For the special election, the Democrats recruited Assemblywoman Christy Smith (AD-38). Smith had flipped her own assembly seat from red to blue and appeared poised to build on Hill’s gains. The DCCC spent over $1 million on the race and seemed to have it in the bag. Right up until the moment Hill herself clumsily elbowed into the race.
HER Time PAC spends big on consultants, small on candidates
Immediately after leaving Congress, Hill created Her Time PAC to support Democratic Candidate Committees.
According to FEC reports, the PAC took in $68,448 in Q2 of this year. Lots of donations of $100 through ActBlue from ordinary folks who believed in her mission. The PAC had cash on hand totaling $1,017,717 by the end of the quarter.
So where has that money gone? This past quarter, the PAC disbursed $268,654. On April 30, she paid $75,000 to AL Media, a Chicago video production company. The PAC paid LA-based political consultant Lindsay Bubar $10,000 a month for all three months. Saguaro Strategies LLC in Berkeley seems to have raised her $20,000 exactly, but then received fees totaling $32,939, plus $54,221 to place online ads.
The bulk of those fees to AL Media and Saguaro Strategies presumably went toward buying time for Hill’s spot – featuring Hill walking around the White House in a mask. She told Politico, “I do not want my legacy to be flipping a seat, and then having it immediately flipped back.”
We know now how that ended – Mike Garcia defeated Christy Smith 56-44 in the May 12 special election, marking the first time since 1998 that a California district flipped from Democratic to Republican.
But what only recently became clear with the filings of Q2 was just how little Hill’s PAC did to help actual women running for Congress.
According to FEC reports, Her Time distributed $18,500 to Congressional candidates and their PACs.
And guess how much of that went to Christy Smith, engaged in the highest profile Congressional race? Zero. Not a single dollar in direct contributions from Hill or Her Time, according to Open Secrets.
The Times somehow neglected to notice this little omission, what with all the books Ms. Hill has been both writing and reading. Maybe HER Pac has big plans to fund Smith in November’s rematch against Garcia. Meanwhile, the nice people donating fifty bucks to a woman they thought they could trust might be well-served to know how little of their money has ended up helping female candidates.