RedState Editor Who Published Revenge Porn of Congresswoman Has Ties to Political Opponent

RedState managing editor Jennifer Van Laar published articles that contained revenge porn of Rep. Katie Hill on the conservative blog RedState and in the Daily Mail without disclosing that she was set to be employed by one of Hill’s Republican challengers. Hill’s estranged husband had shopped around the explicit photographs, which made their way into California Republican circles before Van Laar’s articles were published. The failure to disclose this pertinent information raises new questions about Van Laar’s obtainment of the photographs and her reasoning for including them in her articles, which seemed designed only to humiliate Hill out of office.

Since the publication of the compromising photographs, and Van Laar’s false allegation that Hill had a “Nazi-era” tattoo visible in one of the photographs, Hill has announced her resignation from Congress and expressed her intention to seek legal recourse against those who published and shared the photographs. Both Washington, D.C., and California have laws against revenge porn.

RedState’s and Daily Mail’s publication of the photographs has drawn scrutiny. Politico reported that in July that Van Laar—who hardly pretends to be nonpartisan—had “praised a Republican who at the time was planning to run against Hill in 2020.” That Republican, Suzette Valladares, Mediaite’s Caleb Ecarma reported yesterday, was planning to take on Van Laar as a campaign manager just one month before Hill’s estranged husband Kenny Heslep appears to have begun shopping around the photos of Hill. From Mediaite:

In an August 5 email sent by Van Laar and obtained by Mediaite, she referred to herself as the “campaign manager” for Valladares, who was running for Hill’s seat at the time. The message was sent using an official email address for the candidate’s campaign. In the email, which was sent to the local podcast show The Talk of Santa Clarita, Van Laar explicitly told host Stephen Daniels, “Yes, I’m coming on as her campaign manager.”

[…]

Per screenshots obtained by Mediaite, Hill’s husband sent Facebook direct messages in late September to the local news program saying that he had dirt on Hill, but the podcast shot down his pitch, leading Heslep to block the show and hurl a vague threat about exposing the host.

Stephen Daniels, host of the local podcast “The Talk of Santa Clarita,” mentioned above, also provided Right Wing Watch with a copy of the email chain between himself and Van Laar from August of this year. The Valladares campaign did not respond to an email inquiry from Right Wing Watch.

In screen captures of Facebook comments provided by Daniels, Van Laar was asked if she had identified herself as “someone who would be managing the campaign” of Valladares, which Van Laar confirmed, but claimed that the job had “never materialized.” Van Laar does not appear as a paid staffer on Valladares’ October FEC filing.

Valladares planned to run against Hill in the 2020 congressional race in Hill’s district, but on Sept. 11 she dropped out to pursue a seat in the 38th Assembly District in California instead. At the time of Van Laar’s email, Valladares still planned to challenge Hill in California’s 25th Congressional District. Neither RedState nor the Daily Mail disclosed Van Laar’s relationship to Hill’s then-opponents.

RedState’s senior editor Joe Cunningham accused news outlets of not giving Van Laar due credit as a journalist who broke the story, but The Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics states that journalists should avoid conflicts of interest “real or perceived” and disclose “unavoidable conflicts” to readers when applicable. Daniels told Right Wing Watch that he believed that Van Laar’s role in Valladares’ campaign posed a personal conflict of interest in her reporting.

“She obviously had an agenda to get rid of Katie Hill and had a candidate in mind that she wanted to bring in. I don’t know how you can’t see that as a conflict, especially when she wants to tout that she’s a real journalist,” Daniels told Right Wing Watch on the phone Tuesday.

Article URL : https://www.rightwingwatch.org/post/redstate-editor-who-published-revenge-porn-of-congresswoman-has-ties-to-political-opponent/

%d bloggers like this: