By Christy Strawser
DETROIT (CBS Detroit) She’s movie star beautiful with perfectly straight hair and cherry red lips underneath her Donald Trump campaign hat.
All day, every day she Tweets vitriol at Trump’s opponent Hillary Clinton. She seemed especially fired up during last night’s debate.
As Trump struggles with black voters, especially in the largest city in the powerful swing state of Michigan, the woman has amassed an astonishing 20,500 Twitter followers in one month. It makes her a rare and powerful black female voice in support of Trump’s campaign.
But is she for real?
Some don’t believe she exists, or at least that she’s not who she claims to be: a gorgeous African American Trump supporter who lives in battleground Michigan, a Detroit church member who happens to fit an idealized beauty contestant image.
The holder of the account did not respond to repeated requests for contact from CBS Detroit, including a Tweet that said if we didn’t hear back we could only assume the account is fake. Lena Epstein, co-chair for the Trump campaign in Michigan, and Tim Lineberger, Michigan communications director for the campaign, said in emails they knew nothing about the Twitter account.
Motor City Muckraker reporter and founder Steve Neavling asked his Facebook friends to weigh in, and the consensus was overwhelming. The account blocked Neavling when he Tweeted an accusation the account was fake.
“This is fake as a $3 bill,” one commenter said, later adding, “I believe this is a fake account simply because of this: I googled the twitter account and these young ladies on the twitter page, spew the same language as those who follow him, with the same venom, wording, everything and people from that “Detroit church” where he spoke, yeah, that’s not their vernacular. That speech is peculiar to his supporters and the republican party. Nice try.”
The user’s Twitter feed has only three photos of her, one in front of an American flag in a campaign hat, the other is her Facebook image, which is cropped, with a Kansas City streetscape visible in the full version. In the third, she appears to be voting at a table with a tiny Kansas City logo on the voting divider.
The description says that her name is Tallah and that she became a Trump supporter when she heard him speak at “my church in Detroit.” “It opened my eyes,” the description adds. “Never again will I be a slave to the Democrats. Let us rise up. Together.”
Staffers at the only church in Detroit where Trump has spoken don’t recognize her, saying definitively that no one with that name or visage is a member.
And there’s this: The account first Tweeted Sept. 1 with the “Trump spoke at my church” description.
Trump didn’t speak at a church in Detroit until Sept. 3, when he headlined a much-ballyhooed event at Greater Faith Ministries.
“She doesn’t look familiar, she doesn’t go to our church,” a church staffer said.
Church officials added they were reaching out to the campaign for clarification.
Reporter Alex Griswold at Mediaite told CBS Detroit in an email, “there is a history of the Trump campaign seemingly using fake Twitter accounts to boost their campaign, and fake minority accounts specifically.”
He added there’s no way to know for sure about this one.
“I won’t come out and say it’s definitely fake. But it’s definitely within the realm of possibility that it’s a fake account created by the Trump campaign or a supporter,” he wrote.
This is not the first time questionable accounts have been linked to the Trump campaign. In April, veteran Republican strategist Patrick Ruffini reported that 465 accounts with zero followers had generated 411K tweets about Trump over the last 30 days. The presumably fake accounts sent out identical messages when Trump was in the thick of the nomination battle, urging people to complain to the FCC about Ted Cruz robocalls.
Additionally, Mediaite reported in February that a series of Twitter accounts fronted by Hispanic names had tweeted “suspiciously identical praise of Trump.” They added “Trump also has a history of purchasing fake supporters for his campaign speeches.”