Tinder, Instagram, and a Catfish: How an Illinois Politician Went From Up-and-Comer to Out of a Job

August 2, 2018, 10:28 AM UTC
The Tinder application seen displayed on a Sony smartphone
BANGKOK, THAILAND - 2018/07/25: The Tinder application seen displayed on a Sony smartphone. (Photo by Guillaume Payen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Guillaume Payen—SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A first-term Illinois state representative resigning his post normally wouldn’t make headlines worldwide, or even nationwide. But in the case of Nick Sauer, the details of his resignation are just too juicy.

Sauer, a Republican from Lake Barrington, a northern suburb of Chicago, is accused of posting nude photos of an ex-girlfriend on Instagram under her name and engaging men in conversation over a number of months. It’s also worth mentioning that Sauer was a member of an anti-sexual harassment task force in the Illinois Assembly.

In Illinois, revenge porn—distributing personal sexual images without consent—is a felony that carries a penalty of up to three years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Catfishing—that is, adopting a fictional online persona—is legal but just sad. Sauer, who was up for re-election in November, has not yet been charged.

Politico broke the story yesterday. Kate Kelly, Sauer’s ex-girlfriend, filed an official complaint with the state legislature against Sauer that stated he created the Instagram account “to catfish other men using my privately shared naked photos. Nick would use this account to direct message men with my photos to engage in graphic conversations of a sexual nature. The men believed they were communicating with me and Nick shared private details of my life.”

Kelly told Politico she and Sauer dated long-distance in 2016 after meeting on Tinder. She moved from California to Chicago last June to be closer to him, but they broke up this March after she found out he was dating other women, she says. In July, a man reached out to Kelly on her personal Instagram account saying that he had been communicating with someone pretending to be her for four months. But the account seemed to be active even before their relationship ended.

Kelly says Sauer admitted what he had done: “He came to my house & confessed to catfishing men with my photos for 2 years to at least 8 men. He was unable to provide the names and begged that I let it go,” she wrote in the complaint.

In his resignation letter, Sauer wrote: “As a result of the allegations by Kate Kelly, a former girlfriend, I have decided to resign my office as the State Representative for the 51st District in the Illinois General Assembly. … My ability to fulfill my obligations as a State Representative and public servant will be affected by the distraction of addressing these allegations.

After speaking with my family, I feel it best to step away from my public responsibilities.”

Democratic state Sen. Melinda Bush, said in a statement to Politico yesterday: “For far too long in Springfield, sexual harassment and abuse from those in positions of power has gone unchecked. I applaud this woman for coming forward and telling her story. Women must have confidence that when they come forward with stories of abuse that the systems in place will hear them and believe them. Without accountability there can be no change.”

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