California Rep. Katie Porter (D.) allegedly subjected her ex-husband to a torrent of verbal and physical abuse, one time dumping a pot of boiling mashed potatoes on his head.
Porter's ex-husband, Matthew Hoffman, recounted the abuse in decade-old divorce filings that the Daily Mail resurfaced this week. Hoffman says Porter verbally and physically abused him, often in front of their young children. Hoffman claims that Porter in 2006 dumped a ceramic bowl of hot mashed potatoes on his head while berating him, saying, "Can't you read the f***ing directions," an incident he says left his scalp burned.
The startling allegations could haunt Porter as she vies to replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.). While the California progressive says Hoffman's claims are "absolutely not accurate," they could bolster stories from her former staffers who say it's "widely known" that she's "abusive." Ex-Porter staffers have accused the congresswoman of berating them, making racist comments, and firing employees for contracting the coronavirus. Porter's office has one of the highest turnover rates in the House of Representatives.
Porter offered a much different picture of her relationship with Hoffman, whom she divorced in 2013 after a decade of marriage. The congresswoman, who secured a restraining order against Hoffman shortly after their divorce, claims that her ex-husband physically and verbally abused her, accusations that landed him in jail.
The pair have offered strikingly different accounts of the same events, most notably an alleged altercation that took place on April 24, 2013. Porter claims her ex-husband that day pushed her, called her a "dumb bitch" in front of the children, and punched and shattered a plastic light switch. Porter filed for a restraining order, and Hoffman was arrested.
In Hoffman's version of the same events, he asked Porter to leave the house that morning so that he could have time alone with the children, according to their informal visitation schedule. He said that she refused to go and instead taunted him and began brushing her teeth "very slowly" in the bathroom. He acknowledged that he yelled, grabbed the toothbrush from her hand, and banged the bathroom light switch, at which point Porter called her assistant to fetch her as well as the kids.
When Hoffman asked Porter where she was taking the kids, Porter "ran at me and hit me in the arm, causing a large bruise," Hoffman said. He added that the children remained in his care most of the day, saying, "Her actions support that contention" that he was not physically abusive.
According to a police report from that evening, Porter went to law enforcement because she was "scared that she would have to face Hoffman's agitated state," though law enforcement noted that she did not have a visible injury. The police report also said the couple's seven-year-old son, Luke, said in an interview that in the past his father had kicked him and hit Porter.
In a later filing, Hoffman said he regretted accusing Porter of abuse, a fact noted by Porter's campaign. The couple's final divorce agreement required Porter to pay alimony to Hoffman and gave the pair joint custody of the children.