Rachel Hundley is the Sonoma city council member who has become a victim of slut shaming. The Washington Post reports that on August 13 a website was created with the name, “Rachel Hundley Exposed.” The website featured photos of Hundley, 35, in her underwear at the Burning Man festival in Nevada. The website has since been removed.
Hundley told the Post that she heard about the website from an anonymous person who also told her to drop out of the November 2018 council election. Hundley was formerly the mayor of Sonoma having first been elected to the council in 2014. During her time as mayor, Hundley was referred to as “Sonoma’s first millenial mayor.” The Santa Rosa Press Democrat reported at the time that Hundley was unanimously elected as mayor in 2016. That election came just three years after she moved to California.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Hundley’s Slut Shamers Called the Councilwoman a ‘Cancer’ Who Was Guilty of ‘Lascivious’ Behavior
According to the Sonoma News, the website showing the photos of Hundley was set up by a group known as the Sonoma Citizens for Peace and Cooperation. The group calls Hundley a “cruel and demented person who was a “cancer” to Sonoma’s community. Speaking to the Washington Post, Hundley said, “I was stunned. It’s 2018. I thought we’d gotten past this.” The group accusing Hundley also said she was guilty of “lascivious, drunk and drug-addled behavior.”
2. Hundley Says Her Accusers Are ‘Spineless Indvidiuals’
Hundley confronted the photos head-on in a YouTube video that was shot at Sonoma Plaza. Where she said, “I am here today to tell my faceless bullies that I cannot be shamed into quitting because I am not ashamed.” Hundley called her accusers “spineless individuals” and accused them of “slut shaming.” She adds that she never considered dropping out of the race. Hundley told the San Francisco Chronicle, “I realized there were two paths I could take. I could continue with the campaign and ignore it all or I could acknowledge that this is something that happens to women all over the country, and is something we should talk about.”
Hundley admits to serving wine at a “consent-focused sex-positive theme camp.” That was spun on the website as saying Hundley was at an “orgy dome” while at Burning Man. Hundley said her accusers were trying “to make me afraid, to silence another strong female voice by scaring me out of this election and denying you the right to make a choice.” Hundley goes on, “The #MeToo movement highlighted the effects of the longstanding power dynamics where people thought women could be controlled or manipulated because they had less power — the website assumes the same is true for me. They think they don’t have to challenge me on things that are factual … they can tarnish my reputation by presenting me as a morally inferior person.”
Hundley told the Washington Post that she was so anxious that posting the video would backfire, she vomited prior to uploading it. Hundley said, “I believe that talking about this happening removes all of the power that it has. Once that video was released into the internet ether, I felt like I’d done what I needed to.” During her video response to the allegations, Hundley also pointed out that several of the photos on the website, including one of a woman taking a hit from a bong, are not her.
3. In Addition to Her Political Career, Hundley Runs a Fried Chicken Food Truck
According to her Facebook page, Hundley is from Charleston, South Carolina, and now lives in Sonoma, California. Hundley is a law school graduate from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as well as a graduate of the University of Georgia. Hundley has also studied at the University of Oxford. After leaving law school, Hundley worked as a litigator in New York City with McDermott Will & Emery. Hundley is the founder of the fried chicken food truck Drums & Crumbs. In an interview with the Press Democrat, Hundley described the reasons for her move, “Part of my reason for moving to a smaller city is that local government is something I wanted to be involved with since I was in fifth grade.”
4. Hundley Is Engaged to Democratic Campaign Manager Sean Hamlin
Hundley is due to marry her fiance, Sean Hamlin in October 2018. Hamlin is the campaign manager for California state representative Jim Wood. Previously, Hamlin was a liaison for Rep. Mike Thompson. According to his LinkedIn page, Hamlin is a graduate of Sonoma State University.
On her reelection campaign website, Hundley writes, “Serving you as your councilwoman and mayor has truly been an honor, and with your support and your vote, I will work hard for you – and this beautiful corner of the world we are lucky to call home – for four more years.” That website says that Hundley has been endorsed Congressman Mike Thompson.
5. The Attacks on Hundley Have Been Called a ‘Baseless Character Assassination’
Speaking to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Sonoma State University David McCuan described the attack on Hundley as “character assassination.” McCuan went on to says, “What we see with this website and her response is unprecedented. The site doesn’t have any attribution, it’s hidden in terms of who’s responsible. We would call this a hit piece. It’s unusual, not just for the city of Sonoma, but even for local politics.” In the same article, Alan Ramey of the Wine Country Young Democrats told the Press Democrat, “It’s important to call it what it is — to have her shamed unnecessarily is horrendous. I’m happy I don’t recall any other candidate having to deal with this, but it’s really important to have her stand up and have everyone stand up in support of her to denounce this type of activity.”