By Christine Gralow
Earlier this week, Hawai'i Public Radio aired a piece that included an interview with me and a statement from a Tulsi Gabbard spokesperson.
Gabbard’s spokesperson stated, in an email to HPR Political Reporter Wayne Yoshioka, “Tulsi Gabbard is not going to participate in anything involving Gralow who has a history of bigotry and fabrications and we aren’t going to help amplify her Hindu-phobia.”
The statement was a predictable diversion. Gabbard’s team has been using various tactics to try to shut down my investigative reporting on Gabbard and the Kailua-based Science of Identity Foundation for well over a year now. The tactics seem to be growing increasingly desperate.
First, Science of Identity disciples came to my home, apparently to try to intimidate me, after I asked questions at a Gabbard town hall in Waianae. That’s when I realized I was dealing with a group that operates a lot like Scientology.
Then, Gabbard’s D.C. publicist, Chris Cooper of The Potomac Square Group, sent a rambling email to an editor at Honolulu Magazine about me. Cooper’s general M.O. is to use his status as a former Wall Street Journal reporter to rake in money from politicians who want stories buried. He is tied to Fusion GPS, which is also run by former Wall Street Journal reporters turned ethically challenged D.C. damage fixers. Per Politico, Cooper is also being investigated by the Senate Judiciary Committee around his 2016 work for Kremlin attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya.
“I can assure you that if i (sic) have anything to say about it, Tulsi will not cooperate with Ms. Gralow,” Cooper wrote on June 30, 2017, to the Honolulu Magazine editor, who had expressed strong interest in my work. “Ms. Gralow is a political activist. She is not a reporter.”
Per FEC records, the Tulsi for Hawai'i campaign paid Cooper $19,400 on October 6, 2017.
Next, after I independently published my first article on the Science of Identity Foundation’s international financial trail, someone tried to shut it down by launching two amateurish Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks.
Throughout all of this, numerous posts kept popping up about me from fake Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit accounts. The claims against me included Hinduphobic bigotry and four restraining orders.
One such fake account also targeted special education teacher and former Hawai’i State Teachers Association Vice President Justin Hughey. When HSTA endorsed Sherry Alu Campagna over Gabbard, an “Aquino Purificacion” jumped in to comment on Facebook, “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.”
There is no record of a TRO ever having been requested or issued against Hughey. The “Aquino Purificacion” account was easily traceable to Gabbard's copywriter, Marissa Rodriguez. Gabbard's FEC records include multiple payments to Rodriguez, who also uses the fake name “M.P. Magayon” on Medium to post pro-Gabbard propaganda.
Gabbard has enormous name recognition in Hawai'i, and analysts say she will win tomorrow’s Democratic primary election against Alu Campagna. If Gabbard does win and continues to pursue a national political career, as expected, what’s next for her P.R. team? Joining Trump’s national efforts to shut down the free press altogether?