Aloha Democratic Party of Hawai'i and ACLU Hawai'i! I hope the Democratic Party of Hawai'i convention is going well this weekend and that it brings a much-needed economic boost to the Big Island.
I would like to share concerns regarding U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and violations of constituents' First Amendment rights. My intent in exposing this is not to create a political rift, but to spark a needed discussion in the wake of Wednesday's federal circuit court ruling that Trump violated the First Amendment by blocking dissidents on Twitter. My concerns about Gabbard include and go far beyond Twitter.
I would like to disclose that I am impressed by Sherry Campagna, Gabbard's Democratic primary challenger, and I welcome her campaign. I am a resident of Hawai'i's 2nd Congressional District. I do not work for Campagna, and I was not involved in her decision to run for Congress. I am a member of the Hawai'i State Teachers Association, which endorsed Campagna earlier this week. I am not one of the leaders of HSTA. I played little to no role in HSTA's decision to endorse Campagna. I am a full-time teacher and part-time journalist.
Last year, I exposed Gabbard's deep involvement in the Science of Identity sect, which is led by Kris Butler (aka Chris Butler, Jagad Guru, etc.). I also exposed this sect’s ties to an international money laundering ring. I knew little about Gabbard and nothing about Campagna when I decided to research this interesting group in my community.
The First Amendment also, of course, protects freedom of religion. Gabbard clearly has the right to participate in this sect's activities, so long as those activities do not violate others' human or civil rights. Despite accusations from Butler disciples, I am not a religious bigot. I have defended both Gabbard and Senator Mazie Hirono against actual religious bigotry on social media.
For over a year now, I have experienced and witnessed harassment and violations of the First Amendment rights of Gabbard's constituents. I have six key concerns, which relate to 1) Twitter 2) a publicist being paid to discredit me as a journalist 3) cyberattacks 4) online defamation 5) Butler disciples coming to my home after a Gabbard town hall and 6) false reports to U.S. Capitol Police.
1. The Twitter Problem
A United States Representative's professional Twitter page is a public forum. People cannot be blocked from that forum unless they are engaging in threats or other speech not protected by the First Amendment. Please see this Knight First Amendment Institute lawsuit.
I was blocked from Gabbard's public Twitter page after simply exercising my intellectual freedom and using my critical thinking skills to ask questions. I chose to make my questions public on Twitter because Gabbard's press team has failed to answer all of my questions sent via email. Not one question has been answered. Other Gabbard constituents, who by no means threatened or harassed anyone, have also been blocked. In one case, a Gabbard constituent was blocked for simply sharing one of my articles.
2. The D.C. Publicist Paid to Discredit Me as a Journalist Problem
Gabbard's communications team also made a strategic effort to stifle freedom of the press in Hawai'i when they chose to pay a D.C. publicist, Chris Cooper of The Potomac Square Group, to discredit me as a journalist to a mainstream news editor here. This editor was interested in my work, and we had an agreement. I was careful to ask the editor if I could identify as a freelancer for her publication when questioning sources for an article on Gabbard and Science of Identity. She agreed that I could. Soon after I began doing so, the editor received the below email from Cooper. Gabbard's recent FEC records show she paid Cooper's The Potomac Square Group nearly $20,000.
Cooper's paid email contains multiple grammatical and factual errors. He has not actually worked as a journalist in nearly a decade. He is currently best known in D.C. for accepting money to spin Bahrain's human rights abuses and taking a job with Kremlin lawyer and informant Natalia Veselnitskaya (of Trump Jr. meeting fame). Cooper hung up on me when I politely asked him to confirm his email address. I recorded that conversation, because I had a legal right to do so.
3. The Cyberattack Problem
Soon after I launched my independent news site to publish my investigative series, the site was subjected to two DDoS attacks. I do not yet have definitive evidence of who was behind those attacks. The attacks are being investigated. There was only one article on my site at the time. It was about Science of Identity and the Gabbard family's involvement in the sect. A man who runs another news website in Hawai'i, Hawai'i Free Press, claimed he also experienced a DDoS attack after publishing articles about Gabbard and Science of Identity.
4. The Online Defamation Problem
This problem began when I participated in a discussion on The New Yorker magazine's Facebook page about Kelefa Sanneh's article on Gabbard. A "George Bacay" quickly chimed in to comment: "Christine Gralow has record of TROs with 4 different people so uh?! Temporary Restraining Orders People."
There has never been a TRO requested or issued against me.
On Tuesday, as I read comments on HSTA's Facebook page regarding their endorsement of Sherry Campagna, I saw this, from an "Aquino Purificacion": "Not surprising considering a TRO was filed against HSTA VP Justin Hughey by the owner of a small business on Maui after he entered the business threatening and harassing Tulsi's staff."
I checked Hawai'i's civil court records. There is no record of a TRO ever having been requested or issued against Hughey. Hughey and I are both special education teachers. The First Amendment does not protect libel.
(Update 1 May 27 7:47pm: Someone just tried this TRO tactic again, in another Facebook discussion of Gabbard. See the third photo below. The Hawai'i civil court screenshot used by both "George" and "Kaleo" shows no evidence of TROs against me. Two of those civil cases involved me winning my deposit back from landlords who thought they could just keep it. One case involved a judge agreeing that my safety was at risk and that I needed a TRO against someone else. The fourth case was a misfiling of one of the landlord/tenant cases.)
(Update 2, June 27 5:39pm: I have confirmed that "Aquino Purificacion" is paid Tulsi Gabbard Copywriter Marissa Rodriguez. Rodriguez is also "M.P. Magayon" on Medium.)
5. The Disciples at My Home after the Town Hall Problem
I experienced retaliatory intimidation at my home shortly after I asked critical questions at a Gabbard town hall in Waianae, O'ahu, last year.
First, John Bishop, a long-time Butler follower and husband of Science of Identity President Jeannie Bishop, repeatedly photographed me at the town hall. I expect to be photographed and recorded when speaking at public town halls, and I have no problem with that. I am not a naturally paranoid person. But this was different. Bishop was not news media. He appeared to zoom in on me and photograph me dozens of times, not while I was speaking, but when I was just sitting there. Bishop appeared to do the same thing to LGBT rights activist and Democratic Party of Hawai'i Assistant Secretary Michael Golojuch Jr., who I happened to sit next to at the town hall. This photographer seemed hostilely fixated on Michael and me. I did not know anything about Michael at the time.
I was later able to confirm with former Butler disciples that Bishop has indeed engaged in odd surveillance jobs for Butler. One former Butler disciple I spoke with also admitted to infiltrating gay pride parades and tracking the activities of gay rights activists. He was under Butler's control at the time. Butler has taught his followers an extremist homophobic philosophy.
The night of the Waianae town hall, a clip of me asking Gabbard about her Syria trip funders appeared on Hawai'i News Now. The next day, two Butler disciples were parked immediately outside my home. As I left my home to walk my dog, I clearly saw their faces and quickly recognized one of them as a close personal and business associate of Gabbard Chief of Staff Kainoa Penaroza.
One week after this first lovely visit to my home, I observed two more Butler disciples parked immediately outside my home. One man stared at me as I again left my home to walk my dog. His wife tried to hide behind him in the passenger seat. I observed her taking pictures of me and the front door area of my home. I will refrain from publishing these young people’s names, because I believe responsibility for their actions ultimately lies with their guru.
6. The U.S. Capitol Police False Report Problem
Gabbard's staff and/or close political supporters have also used the U.S. Capitol Police in apparent attempts to harass and intimidate critically thinking constituents.
Someone made a false report that I impersonated a Gabbard staffer. I did not. Two other Gabbard constituents say Gabbard's staff also reported them to Capitol Police and accused them of harassing Gabbard after they simply asked questions about her stance on LGBTQ issues. (Update: See Eileen's detailed comment below). The Capitol Police agent who called me after receiving the false report was nice enough and seemed to understand the situation. Since I had him on the phone anyway, I told him everything I know about Gabbard, Butler, and the Science of Identity Foundation.
A truly democratic election cannot be held when such tactics are being used to silence concerned constituents, journalists, and union leaders.
Mahalo for reading.
Christine Gralow, M.S.Ed., M.J.
Teacher and Independent Journalist
U.C. Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, '03
1. Butler's Web: Krishna, Politics, and QNET's International Pyramid Scheme
2. Butler's Web, Part 2: Who is Gabbard's Guru
3. Butler's Web, Part 3: Grooming the Second Generation