“Stunned! Absolutely horrified!”
A group of women across the country are speaking out about how a candidate for mayor of Franklin, Tennessee, has had her social media posts removed for falsely claiming her as his supporter.
Franklin Alderman Gabriel Hanson, a controversial candidate who relishes his MAGA Republican ties, probably couldn’t have imagined that someone would track down the women whose photos he posted on his campaign’s social media accounts last month.
But Scripps News Nashville Investigates did just that over the weekend, and those women were angry about how their images were used.
“I’m wondering how this person doesn’t have other photos of other friends or actual supporters,” said April, who asked us not to use her last name.
“It’s very difficult to find a photo of a group of women who have just met, having a very enjoyable lunch, from seven years before social media.”
As this story was being posted, Hanson finally returned a phone call after multiple attempts by Scripps News Nashville to reach him. In a bizarre and no-nonsense conversation, Hanson and campaign aide Erin Mazzoni refused to answer any questions about the posts, saying a federal court had upheld candidates’ rights to post whatever they wanted.
Hanson and Mazzoni suggested that questions be like “chasing”.
Mazzoni said, “That’s not fair to a woman, Phil.”
“We’re doing it in the light, and we’re doing it with God on our side.”
While the Franklin city official has staked out some staunch Republican positions, if you believe his social media, he’s also getting support from a diverse group of people in his campaign for city mayor.
One photo shows a large crowd for an event that Hansen described as “a vibrant and engaged community in ‘This is Your Town’ and welcoming.”
Then, there is a photo of a group of women with whom Hanson expresses his “heartfelt appreciation” to an “executive women’s club” for their “invaluable support and encouragement.”
Both images have the hashtags “#FranklinTN” and #VoteHanson.
When we first contacted April, Scripps News Nashville asked: “So what do you think of it?”
“Honestly, I don’t know,” she replied.
It was revealed that this photo was taken in Chicago in 2016.
“I’m the one with the little top-knot bun and the little American flag sweater,” April said.
Scripps News Nashville Investigates asked, “Do you support Gabrielle Hanson?”
“I don’t know,” said April. “I don’t really know who he is.”
A second woman, who asked not to be identified, described the reaction of many women in the group as “surprised, absolutely shocked.”
“That’s not true,” said the other woman. “That didn’t happen, and everyone in that photo knows it.”
We asked April, “So as far as you know you’ve never met Gabrielle Hanson?”
“No,” she said, “and I have a pretty good memory. I have a small group of friends and coworkers, and I think I would remember someone like that.”
Rather than being an “executive women’s club”, as Gabrielle Hanson claimed, all the women were selected to star in an advertising campaign for women’s clothing brand The Limited.
April remembered, “That was a kind of brunch where people came together to celebrate each other and celebrate the campaign.”
Looking at old photos, some women concluded that Hanson may have been part of the ad campaign, but she insisted that she was not at the brunch – and that they never asked her to use their images to promote their campaign. Not authorized for.
When some people on social media noticed that the photo was taken at a restaurant in Chicago, Hanson posted an update on Facebook and doubled down on his claims.
“These are all my friends who have moved to Nashville, Brentwood and Franklin, and they all support me.”
Again, the women say that is a lie.
“I know some of those women aren’t in the places she named,” April said. “Some of those women are still in Chicago and other parts of the country, but not in Tennessee.”
In a phone call with Scripps News Nashville, Hanson again changed his story.
“They live all over the country, and we meet regularly,” she said.
This year, Hanson tried to prevent Pride Fest from being held in Franklin Park, he tried to pressure sponsors to reduce funding for the Juneteenth celebration in Franklin, and he opposed the creation of a historical marker commemorating those sites. Where the lynching took place.
Scripps News Nashville Investigates asked the second woman if she would ever support any of Hanson’s positions.
“No, no, not if she was the last candidate on Earth – absolutely not!” The woman said. “These are not positions I am in contact with [advertising] The campaign will condemn or support.”
“I do racial equality work that supports all people and all the good, beautiful expressions people show in life,” she explained. “So I definitely don’t want to be associated with anything like that.”
A third woman, who asked not to be identified, provided a written statement to Scripps News Nashville Investigates.
“I am appalled by the misuse of this photo and its inaccurate depiction of what is happening,” the woman wrote. “Publishing such blatant lies reflects poorly on a candidate’s character. As I learn more about Gabrielle Hanson and her views, such a blatant attempt to show diverse female support is disgusting. This incident has to be treated with integrity.” “Remind us of the importance, loyalty and respect for each other in the field of public discussion and political participation.”
Additionally, it turns out that the so-called “meet and greet” image also appears to have been taken from the web.
Instead of being taken to Franklin, it was also from Chicago.
Hanson has now deleted it from his social media.
Scripps News Nashville Investigates asked April about Hanson, “Would you have any message for her?”
“I would encourage him to meet real friends so that if he’s looking for supporters, he can take pictures with them,” she said. “There’s no need to scour the internet for pictures to make up a story. None of us need that.”
This story was originally published by Phil Williams Scripps News Nashville,