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Rep. Katie Hill explains abrupt resignation in video

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Rep. Katie Hill says she’s determined to fight against what she calls a smear campaign designed to humiliate her. But, with an apparent nudge from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, she says she had to resign from Congress on Sunday to not impede the important constitutional work for which she might serve as a distraction.

“Congresswoman Katie Hill came to Congress with a powerful commitment to her community and a bright vision for the future, and has made a great contribution as a leader of the Freshman Class,” Pelosi wrote in a statement on Sunday. “She has acknowledged errors in judgment that made her continued service as a Member untenable.  We must ensure a climate of integrity and dignity in the Congress, and in all workplaces.”

Hill, 32, a rising leader as vice chair of the House Oversight Committee, acknowledged having an “inappropriate” relationship with a campaign staffer. “I know that even a consensual relationship with a subordinate is inappropriate, but I still allowed it to happen despite my better judgment,” she wrote in a letter to her constituents.

But Hill has vigorously denied a relationship with a congressional staffer, a violation of House Ethics Rules that triggers an ethics investigation.

“It is with a broken heart that today I announce my resignation from Congress. This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but I believe it is the best thing for my constituents, my community and our country,” Hill wrote in a letter posted on Twitter.

“This is what needs to happen so that the good people who supported me will no longer be subjected to the pain inflicted by my abusive husband and the brutality of hateful political operatives who seem to happily provide a platform to a monster who is driving a smear campaign built around cyber exploitation,” Hill wrote.

Politico reports that she is expected to officially step down on Nov. 1.

It is unclear if Hill’s resignation will halt her request to U.S. Capitol Police to investigate the origin of the nude photos that accompanied stories in the conservative online site RedState on Oct. 18 and a British tabloid that Hill and supporters call “revenge porn” distributed by her Los Angeles County-based estranged husband, Kenny Heslep, whom she is divorcing. Revenge porn is against the law in California.

In a You Tube video posted Monday, Hill explains why she resigned and thanks her supporters.

 

“I made this decision so my supporters, my family, my staff and our community will no longer be subjected to the pain inflected by my abusive husband and the brutality of hateful political operatives.

 

This coordinated campaign carried out by the fight wing media and the Republican opponents enabling and perpetuating my husband’s abuse by providing him a platform is disgusting and unforgivable and they will be held accountable.

 

But I will not allow myself to be a distraction from the constitutional crisis we’re faced with and the critical work of my colleagues. And so I have to take my personal fight outside the Halls of Congress.

 

Too many Americans our counting on Washington to fulfill our promises of quality healthcare, housing we can afford, and a government that works for the people. And I cannot let this horrible smear campaign get in the way of that work.

 

To my supporters in my district and across our great country, please know that we did something incredible. We proved that an imperfect woman – the 31-year old daughter of a nurse and a police officer who never planned to run for office – has a place int eh people’s House. We showed the nation that there is hope, even in the darkest of moments; that every single person deserves a chance and a voice; and that voters will believe and will rise to make that happen.

 

We showed Washington that a grassroots campaign can propel a young woman into Congress without the help of big corporations and special interests that have for so long governed politics and that this movement will change our broken political system forever.

 

That matters.

 

And it will always matter.

 

I need you to know that my fight is not over. Those of you who know me know that I am a fighter. Before I came to Congress, I fought for the most vulnerable people in our community, working to end homelessness for individuals, veterans and families.

 

I fought to give a voice to those who, for too long, have been silenced or pushed into the shadows. I’m going to continue to fight for our democracy, for representation, for justice and equality and for making the world a better place.

 

And I will also take up a new fight. I will fight to ensure that no one else has to live through what I just experienced. Some people call this electronic assault, digital exploitation. Others call it revenge porn. As the victim of it, I call it one of the worst things we can do to our sisters and our daughters.

 

I am grateful for all of you who have spoken out about this in recent days. As I have before, I will stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves because there is one thing that I know for sure: I will not allow my experience to scare off other young women or irls from running for office.

 

For the sake of all of us, we cannot let that happen.

 

I’m hurt. I’m angry. The path that I saw so clearly for myself is no longer there. I’e had moments where I’ve wondered what the last three years of my life were for and if it was worth it. And I know that many of you feel the same.

 

I never claimed to be perfect. But I never thought my imperfections would be weaponized and used to try to destroy me and the community I’ve loved for my entire life. For that, I am so incredibly sorry.

 

I’m so grateful for the outpouring of support that I’ve received. I grew up riding horses and the most important thing that I learned was that when you fall off, you have to get right back up in the saddle.

 

So I’m going to do that. I hope I can count on you to do the same and join me on the next ride.

 

Thank you.

Reaction has been mixed to both the smear campaign and Hill’s resignation, including from someone Democrats might never consider – Donald Trump loyalist Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz.

 

“This is just absurd. The only person who seems to have a gripe is @RepKatieHill’s soon-to-be ex,” Gaetz tweeted on Oct. 24 as the Ethics investigation of Hill was announced.  “Who among us would look perfect if every ex leaked every photo/text? Katie isn’t being investigated by Ethics or maligned because she hurt anyone – it is because she is different.”

“I serve on Armed Services with Katie and while we frequently disagree on substance, she is always well-prepared, focused and thoughtful,” Gaetz tweeted later.

“We are sorry to lose a good public servant in Congresswoman Katie Hill. We thank her for putting her district first over the personal attacks that have been levied her way,” said Mark J. González, Los Angeles County Democratic Party Chair, in a statement. “We do not condone this kind of behavior from anyone and most of all our elected leaders. No one in any profession should live in fear of having intimate and deeply personal moments used as weapons against them. As Democrats, we are proud to stand against sexual harassment of any kind and we have procedures in place to protect all. We will continue to fight for progress and justice for our communities.”

“Since January, Katie Hill has served the LGBTQ community and the people of California’s 25th district with honor and integrity,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur. “She fought for us every day. Her treatment by the cabal of right-wing media and a revengeful husband was abusive and unconscionable. The double standard that women — and LGBTQ women in particular — face in politics and the workplace is a sad stain on this nation. America needs leaders like Katie. She always had our backs — we and thousands of her grateful constituents still have hers.”

Democrats are now wondering who will replace Hill, who was among the 2018 “Blue Wave” that flipped GOP seats to Democrats, include the CA 25th District then occupied by anti-LGBTQ Republican Rep. Steve Knight. Hill beat Knight by nine points. Politico reports that Democratic Assemblymember Christy Smith, who represents some 60 percent of the #CA25 district, is expected to announce her run for the seat. She’s already been endorsed by LACDP head Gonzalez. Others are knocking on the door.

 

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NBC Universal cancels Golden Globe awards broadcast for 2022

NBC Universal announced the network would not broadcast the 2022 Golden Globes awards ceremony

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Screenshot NBC coverage of the Golden Globes from previous years on YouTube

BURBANK – In the wake of an in-depth investigation into the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), the organization responsible for the Golden Globes by the Los Angeles Times, which revealed a lack of racial diversity among its voting members and various other ethical concerns, NBC Universal announced Monday the network would not broadcast the 2022 Golden Globes ceremony.

This past February ahead of the HFPA’s 78th Annual Golden Globes ceremony, HFPA board chair Meher Tatna told Variety magazine that the organization that the organization of international journalists which covers the film, television, and entertainment industry has not had any Black members in at least 20 years.

Actor Sterling K. Brown,  a Golden Globe winner and two-time nominee, posted to Instagram; 

Criticism of the HFPA, which puts on the Globes and has been denounced for a lack of diversity and for ethical impropriates, reached such a pitch this week that actor and superstar celebrity Tom Cruise returned his three Globes to the press association’s headquarters, according to a person who was granted anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the decision, the Associated Press reported.

“We continue to believe that the HFPA is committed to meaningful reform. However, change of this magnitude takes time and work, and we feel strongly that the HFPA needs time to do it right,” a spokesperson for NBC said in a statement.

“As such, NBC will not air the 2022 Golden Globes,” the spokesperson added. “Assuming the organization executes on its plan, we are hopeful we will be in a position to air the show in January 2023.”

NBC’s decision comes as Vogue reported that the backlash to the HFPA came swiftly and decisively. Some of Hollywood’s biggest studios, including Netflix, Amazon, and WarnerMedia, announced they were severing ties with the organization until efforts were made to increase diversity and stamp out corruption, while a group of more than 100 of the industry’s biggest PR firms released a statement in March in which they pledged to boycott the ceremony for the foreseeable future. 

The HFPA did not immediately respond to inquiries by media outlets requesting comment about NBC’s decision.

In February, the organization said it was “fully committed to ensuring our membership is reflective of the communities around the world who love film, TV, and the artists inspiring and educating them.”

“We understand that we need to bring in Black members as well as members from other underrepresented backgrounds, and we will immediately work to implement an action plan to achieve these goals as soon as possible,” it said.

HFPA also announced a full timetable through this summer for implementing promised reform initiatives in response to NBC’s decision.

“Regardless of the next air date of the Golden Globes, implementing transformational changes as quickly — and as thoughtfully — as possible remains the top priority,” the HFPA board said in a statement. “We invite our partners in the industry to the table to work with us on the systemic reform that is long overdue, both in our organization as well as within the industry at large.”

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Coronavirus

LA County expected to hit herd immunity by mid summer

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County could reach COVID-19 herd immunity among adults and the older teenagers by mid- to late July, public health officials announced Monday. Over the weekend LA Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that appointments are no longer needed for Angelenos to get COVID-19 vaccinations at any site run by the city.

Garcetti’s move is intended to give people who don’t have the time or technological resources to navigate online booking platforms a chance to get the shot.

The percentage of the population the County needs to vaccinate to achieve community immunity is unknown, however Public Health officials estimate it’s probably around 80%. Currently, 400,000 shots each week are getting into the arms of L.A. County residents, and there are over 2 million more first doses to go before 80% of all L.A. County residents 16 and older have received at least one shot.

At this rate, Public Health expects the County will reach this level of community immunity in mid- to late July and that assumes the County continues to at least have 400,000 people vaccinated each week. That would include both first doses that people need as well as their second doses.

This news came as Los Angeles Unified School District officials announced that attendance numbers at all grade levels in the District have been considerably lower than expected as extensive safety measures have failed to lure back the vast majority of families in the final weeks of school.

Only 7% of high school students, about 30% of elementary school children and 12% of middle school students have returned to campuses.

As of May 7, more than 8,492,810 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered to people across Los Angeles County. Of these, 5,146,142 were first doses and 3,346,668 were second doses.

On Monday the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) expanded the emergency use authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for adolescents 12 to 15 years of age. The Pfizer vaccine is already authorized for people 16 years old and older.

Pfizer’s testing in adolescents “met our rigorous standards,” FDA vaccine chief Dr. Peter Marks said. “Having a vaccine authorized for a younger population is a critical step in continuing to lessen the immense public health burden caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In a statement released Monday by the White House, President Joe Biden the FDA’s decision marked another important step in the nation’s march back to regular life.

“The light at the end of the tunnel is growing, and today it got a little brighter,” Biden said.

Los Angeles County will offer the Pfizer vaccine for 12 to 15-year-olds once the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) affirms the FDA recommendation, which can happen as early as Wednesday. All adolescents 12-17 will need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian to get vaccinated.

To find a vaccination site near you, to make an appointment at vaccination sites, and much more, visit: www.VaccinateLACounty.com (English) and www.VacunateLosAngeles.com (Spanish). If you don’t have internet access, can’t use a computer, or you’re over 65, you can call 1-833-540-0473 for help finding an appointment or scheduling a home-visit if you are homebound. Vaccinations are always free and open to eligible residents and workers regardless of immigration status.

In the meantime, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that unvaccinated people — including children — should continue taking precautions such as wearing masks indoors and keeping their distance from other unvaccinated people outside of their households.

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Health

HHS takes steps to reverse Anti-LGBTQ+ healthcare policy

The announcement came minutes before a scheduled hearing before the U.S. District Court for Equality California’s lawsuit challenging the Trump-Pence Administration’s “Rollback Rule”

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HHS the Hubert H. Humphrey Building (Photo: GSA)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday morning that the Biden-Harris Administration will interpret and enforce Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and Title IX’s prohibitions on discrimination based on sex to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The announcement came minutes before a scheduled hearing before the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in BAGLY v. HHS, Equality California’s lawsuit challenging the Trump-Pence Administration’s “Rollback Rule.”

The Trump-era policy undermines the ACA’s nondiscrimination protections on the basis of sex — including pregnancy, gender identity and sex stereotyping — as well as protections for patients with limited-English proficiency and those living with chronic illnesses, including HIV. Because the issues in BAGLY v. HHS are broader than what the Administration announced today, the Court scheduled a hearing on the government’s motion to dismiss for June 3rd at 2:30 PM EST.

In reaction to the HHS announcement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement Monday:

“Today, the Biden Administration has taken essential and potentially life-saving action to affirm that all people in America have the right to quality, affordable health care – no matter who they are or whom they love.  During this time of pandemic and always, it is vital that the most vulnerable have access to care, including LGBTQ Americans, who have long suffered injustice and discrimination that has left them dangerously exposed to health risks.
 
“The Trump Administration’s decision to greenlight anti-LGBTQ discrimination in health care in the middle of a pandemic was an act of senseless and staggering cruelty, made in blatant defiance of our values and a Supreme Court ruling made just a month prior.  
 
“Congressional Democrats together with the Biden Administration are proud to uphold the equal right of every American to access the care that they need to pursue a life of dignity and health.  We must now build on this progress and enact the House-passed Equality Act to fully ban anti-LGBTQ discrimination in our nation.”

In addition to Equality California, co-plaintiffs in BAGLY v. HHS include Darren Lazor, The Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth (BAGLY), Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, Campaign for Southern Equality, Equality California, Fenway Health, and Transgender Emergency Fund.

Lazor is a transgender man near Cleveland, Ohio, who experienced numerous counts of discrimination from healthcare providers on the basis of his gender identity from 2012 to 2017. He is a member of Equality California. Plaintiffs are represented by National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), the Transgender Law Center (TLC), the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF), the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation (CHLPI) of Harvard Law School and law firm Hogan Lovells.

The lawsuit asserts that the new rule violates the Administrative Procedures Act by being contrary to law, arbitrary and capricious and a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Notably, it was published on June 19,  just days after the June 15, 2020 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, which found that it is unlawful sex discrimination to fire employees based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

The lawsuit also asserts that the new rule will embolden discrimination and harm LGBTQ+ patients and people seeking reproductive health care, further stigmatize abortion and other pregnancy-related care, harm patients with limited-English proficiency, especially immigrants, and harm people with chronic illnesses, including those living with HIV. The rule will also create confusion about the scope of protections against discrimination under federal law. 

Trans people, like plaintiff Darren Lazor, already face disproportionate discrimination in health care settings, including mistreatment by insurers and humiliation and harassment by doctors – problems that are exacerbated for trans people of color and trans people living in rural regions and the U.S. South. In seeking to deny trans people access to the healthcare they need, the Trump Administration had placed trans people, and especially Black trans women, in danger through deliberately harmful governmental action.

“We are thrilled by the news that the Biden-Harris Administration will take initial steps to reverse President Trump’s dangerous, discriminatory Rollback Rule, which undermined healthcare nondiscrimination protections critical to the LGBTQ+ community, and trans people in particular,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Chavez Zbur.

“As the world recovers from a global pandemic, it’s more important than ever that every American have access to quality, affordable healthcare without fear of harassment and discrimination. We remain hopeful that under Secretary Becerra and Assistant Secretary Levine’s leadership, HHS will continue to take further steps to rescind the Trump-era regulation and address the harms that it has caused,” he added.

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