Former Rep. Katie Hill Files for Bankruptcy Following $220,000 Attorney Fees Judgment 

UNITED STATES - MARCH 14: Rep. Katie Hill, D-Calif., is seen during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing in Rayburn Building to discuss preparations for the 2020 Census and citizenship questions on Thursday March 14, 2019. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross testified. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

Former Rep. Katie Hill (D-CA), who owes roughly $220,000 in attorney fees to two news outlets and two conservative journalists after an unsuccessful lawsuit in a California state court, has filed for bankruptcy, the Los Angeles Times reports.

In 2019, the openly bisexual Hill resigned in disgrace after reporters uncovered she was engaged in a “throuple” relationship with her former husband, Kenny Heslep, and Morgan Desjardins, one of her former staffers.

In the weeks leading up to Hill’s resignation, the Daily Mail and Red State covered Hill’s “throuple” and published nude photographs of the former congresswoman brushing another woman’s hair.

These photographs and reports caused the House Ethics Committee to investigate Hill’s allegedly improper sexual relationship with a male congressional staffer. However, the Ethics Committee investigation did not finish, as Hill resigned from Congress before its conclusion.

Hill later sued the journalists and news outlets involved in the reporting, arguing they violated her right to privacy. However, a California state court sided with the defendants in that case. They invoked a California law and argued Hill’s lawsuit sought to punish them for asserting their First Amendment constitutional rights to speak freely.

As Breitbart News reported at the time:

But the Daily Mail invoked California’s anti-SLAPP law, a law that seeks to discourage “strategic lawsuits against public participation” that interfere with free speech by using litigation to intimidate the media or make criticism of public officials potentially too costly.

The defendants’ further argued that the nude photos were in the “public interest” due to Hill’s status as a federal lawmaker.

The judge ordered Hill to pay the defendants’ roughly $220,000 in attorneys fees and costs in June 2021.

Even though a California state judge agreed with the defendants’ arguments, Hill believes the judge erroneously applied First Amendment and California.

After reports of her bankruptcy filing came out, Hill claimed, “a judge ruled that my naked body was in the public interest, and that I had no right to hold accountable those responsible for this assault to my privacy and dignity.”

Hill also called on Congress to enact a “cyber exploitation law to protect victims who are currently left to personally fight attacks and abuse without a legal system to support them.”

If Hill’s bankruptcy proceedings are successful, she will avoid paying the near $220,00 in legal fees she owes to the Daily Mail, Red State, Jennifer Van Laar, and Joe Messina.

Hill’s attorney claimed the judge’s order for Hill to pay the defendant’s legal fees is indicative of “a broken system.”

However, an attorney from the firm representing Van Laar and Messina called Hill a “privileged” political and blasted her for abusing the bankruptcy process.

Krista Lee Baughman said:

Hill’s latest move in seeking to discharge her debts in bankruptcy is yet another example of her attempt to evade responsibility for her errors. The bankruptcy process was not meant to enable privileged politicians with the means to earn revenue to evade the natural consequences of their intentional acts. We have questions about this filing, and we will be pursuing them in court.

Hill served a brief stint in Congress representing a northern Los Angeles County district for ten months before her resignation.

Rep. Mike Garcia (R-CA) later won the special election to fill Hill’s seat in a close battle against Christy Smith, who is running against Garcia for the third time in the upcoming midterm elections. Smith was recently caught on tape praising President Joe Biden’s presidential performance as “phenomenal.”

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