Gabrielle Hanson — an anti-LGBTQ+ MAGA Republican mayoral candidate for the city of Franklin, Tennessee who is running on a “conservative values” platform — pleaded guilty in the 1990s for “promoting prostitution.” She faced additional charges around the same time for money laundering and engaging in organized criminal activity, but she hasn’t been completely forthcoming about what happened.
On Tuesday, Hanson released a video on social media in which she explained that when she was a 30-year-old college student in Dallas, Texas she had a job “answering phone calls” for what she thought was a casting and modeling agency that put ads for models on commercials, in the J.C. Penney department store catalog, and other places, WTVF reported.
In her video, Hanson said, “I answered the phone. I took a name, I took a number and a date. At the end of my work session, I would call the owners and give them that information…. A little over a year on that job, one day the police came knocking at my door. Little did I know that they had also been operating a very lucrative casting couch. I was shocked. I was devastated.”
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She said that after the police questioned her, they realized that, “I had not handled any administrative duties. I had simply answered the phone.” However, a legal analyst named Nick Leonardo told the news station that, if Hanson only answered the phone, investigators wouldn’t have typically filed charges against such a low-level person, instead using them for information to arrest and charge higher-level operatives.
Hanson received a money laundering charge with an offense date of April 1, 1993, WTVF noted, as well as charges for promoting prostitution and engaging in organized criminal activity with an offense date of March 8, 1995. She said she took a plea deal for the charges because she couldn’t afford an attorney. However, she and her parents bought a beachfront condo in New Smyrna Beach, Florida the year before. Texas Department of Public Safety data also revealed that Hanson used the alias “Julie Newhouse.”
“Well, typically victims don’t have an alias. Typically, victims go by their real names,” Leonardo noted. “So the fact that there is an alias certainly doesn’t lend credence to her story that she was simply answering the phone.”
The records on the prostitution charges appear to be sealed, so Hanson is the only one who can decide what the public knows about the charges.
In April, Hanson voted against approving a permit for a Pride event while serving on the Franklin City Board of Alderman. She said she didn’t feel organizers “could be trusted” to host the event at a city park.
“There’s not a filter there of appropriate versus not appropriate,” she said of the Pride organizers, according to The Tennesseean. “I’ve cried over a lot of the emails I’ve gotten from families whose children go down this path and they are helpless and challenged, and they are looking for community.”
Hanson’s aide, Erin Mazzoni, recently gave a speech in front of the board claiming that LGBTQ+ people are giving children buttplugs and training them on how to use them. She offered no proof to support her claim.
Hanson’s campaign website contains a page on “Restoring traditional values and protecting families.” The page contains many standard anti-LGBTQ+ dog whistles about providing “a safe and nurturing environment for our children to grow and flourish,” taking a “stand against radical ideologies,” ” safeguarding our city from the divisive agendas,” “safeguarding our religious liberties… [to] uphold the moral fabric of our community” and “[protecting] our children from harmful influences and ensure that they are raised with the time-honored principles.”
Hanson and Mazzoni also allegedly used a picture of women from across the country that they took from social media without consent and claimed that the women in the picture supported Hanson’s candidacy. Several of the women in the photo, which was from a 2016 gathering in Chicago, said that they had never met Hanson and didn’t support her candidacy. Hanson referred to the women as her “friends,” and Mazzoni said press questions about the women were the same as “stalking.”