Human Rights

ACORN Smear Collaborator Claims Persecution to Raise Money for Her Legal Troubles

In a bizarre fundraising appeal, James O'Keefe's co-conspirator Hannah Giles claims ACORN is trying to 'destroy' her -- and invites you to donate $35 to $5,000 to her legal fund.

Late last week, a large pink envelope arrived in our mailbox bearing a "USA NONPROFIT" stamp and, in lieu of a return address, a black and white image of a smiling young woman, her name printed underneath, in lavender script:

If the name or the photo didn't ring a bell, the text on the envelope certainly did:

 

The contents of the envelope were no less hyperbolic:

"Dear Fellow American," the pitch begins. "Let me be direct: Obama's ally ACORN is trying to destroy me."

This is the main thrust of the four-page fundraising appeal by Hannah Giles, the 20-year-old former college student who gained notoriety for posing as a prostitute in the ACORN "sting" carried out with conservative activist James O'Keefe last year.

After O'Keefe's arrest for allegedly trying to tamper with the phones in Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu's office, Giles has distanced herself from her co-conspirator, re-inventing herself as a pioneering champion of the First Amendment and freedom in general. Since being threatened with litigation by ACORN and former ACORN employees, in part on the grounds that she and O'Keefe violated state wiretap laws and engaged in entrapment, Giles set up a legal defense fund, courtesy of the Liberty Legal Institute, and has now started  soliciting donations, non-profit style.

Giles’s fundraising appeal, printed on pink paper and decorated with stars in what is supposed to look like purple marker, portrays her looming legal fights as nothing less than an epic battle between good and evil. Warning that her "ordeal is far from over" -- "I fear it's just the beginning," she writes (emphasis hers) -- Giles says that ACORN has no choice but to "make an example" of her.

 

They know they must destroy me if they are to survive. If they let me get away with exposing them, then more reporters will do more investigative work uncovering even more of ACORN's dirty secrets.
And that will lead to ACORN's implosion once and for all!

The letter contains a number of inaccuracies, large and small. She claims to be a humble college student who cannot afford to defend herself. She is not. (Until last year she attended Florida International University, but has since dropped out, reportedly “in order to keep up with demands for public appearance and job offers,” according to Politico.)

She claims that "Congress is on the verge of pulling ACORN's funding for in (sic) federal funding -- delivering a mortal blow to this corrupt and evil taxpayer funded organization."

In fact, Congress's cynical Defund Acorn Act, which was passed last fall, was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge in December, who ruled that ACORN was "singled out by Congress for punishment that directly and immediately affects their ability to continue to obtain federal funding, in the absence of any judicial or administrative, process adjudicating guilt ... The public will not suffer harm by allowing the plaintiffs to continue work on contracts duly awarded by federal agencies."

Giles wildly over-exaggerates Obama's ties with ACORN -- she refers to it as "Obama's ACORN" -- not to mention her role in "exposing" it. "I lifted the veil on Obama's long history of 'community organizing' and close personal ties with ACORN," she writes, adding in a P.S. (in case her point didn't come across), that "Obama's ally ACORN wants to take its revenge on me for exposing its massive corruption."

She vaguely refers to “ACORN’s involvement in mortgage rackets for unqualified borrowers that led to the financial crisis,” a whopping claim with little basis in reality. (The irony being that ACORN has actually been devoted to combating predatory loans.)

Throughout the letter she describes ACORN as "a bad organization that was corrupting America through massive voter fraud," a group with a "slimy, filthy underbelly," and an organization whose "workers are the irreplaceable 'shock troops' of the left that they must have to wage war against mainstream America and our way of life."

Your gift of $25 or $35 to my special legal defense fund would mean so much to me.
And your gift will help me battle ACORN -- THE group that made Obama into the Chicago politician he is today and put him in the White House.

Giles zeroes in on the most egregious part of the video she and O'Keefe produced, where an ACORN employee appears to give tax advice to her and O’Keefe while they claimed to be arranging to bring child prostitutes to the U.S. from El Salvador.

ACORN has already responded to these claims. The transcripts of material not included in the final videos -- and released by O'Keefe himself -- reveal that the footage was heavily doctored, omitting such relevant facts as 1) Giles pretended that she was the victim of an abusive pimp and was trying to escape, while also wanting to "protect" the underage girls. 2) O'Keefe actually posed as her concerned boyfriend, not a pimp himself.

Giles claims that ACORN employees in Baltimore, Washington, San Diego, San Bernadino, Brooklyn, and Philadelphia "willingly extended their assistance to us." In fact, they were kicked out of numerous offices; in San Diego, ACORN employees called the police.

Numerous people have already fact-checked the claims against ACORN. Last year, a report by the Congressional Research Service found that ACORN broke no laws in the previous five years, including in its employees’ interactions with O’Keefe and Giles. Instead, Giles and O’Keefe themselves likely broke state wiretapping laws, the report found.

These facts have done little to protect ACORN from continuous attacks from the right. And it certainly is not stopping Giles from launching a vicious attack on ACORN while sweetly asking for money from strangers. Inviting recipients of her fundraising letter to write a “note of encouragement,” she includes check boxes for potential donors to give anywhere from $35 to $5,000.

But lest people mistake her for a right-wing damsel in distress, Giles is quick to reassure people that she can protect herself from the “shock troops” of the left.

I want to reassure you that they’re not going to stop me or shut me up or intimidate me into silence,” she says, underlining every word.

Since I was a young girl I’ve taken Brazilian ju-jitsu and know how to defend myself. And with a few sensible  precautions, I don't think these cowards will show themselves.
But it’s made me more aware than ever of how important it is to trust in God and to have the support of my wonderful family.

That includes her father, far right-wing radio host Doug Giles, whose fans include Ted Nugent and Ann Coulter and whose website praises him as "lambast[ing] the enemies of the Lord." 

Liliana Segura is an AlterNet staff writer and editor of Rights & Liberties and World Special Coverage. Follow her on Twitter.
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