Katrina Lanette Pierson (born Katrina Lanette Shaddix, on July 20, 1976) is a Tea Party activist and communications consultant from Texas. She served as national spokesperson for the Donald Trump 2016 presidential campaign.
Early life and education
Pierson was born in Kansas to a white mother and a black father, and grew up with her mother in poverty. Her mother, who gave birth to her at age 15, initially gave her up for adoption, but later changed her mind.
In 1997, at the age of 20, she was arrested for shoplifting, to which she pleaded no contest, received deferred adjudication, and, ultimately, a dismissal with the case sealed. Pierson reportedly took $168 in merchandise from a J. C. Penney store in Plano, Texas, and had her then three-month old son with her at the time of the incident. Pierson told authorities she needed the clothes for job interviews. Pierson says the incident helped turn her life around, showing her that mistakes often come with consequences.
After voting for Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, Pierson joined the Tea Party movement, fitting an activist. Pierson founded a local Tea Party group in Garland, Texas. She actively supported Ted Cruz in the 2012 Senate race in Texas and appeared on stage with him on election night.
2014 Texas Congressional race
In the 2014 Texas Congressional elections, Pierson challenged incumbent Congressman Pete Sessions in the Republican primary to represent Texas' 32nd district. Her candidacy was endorsed by Rafael Cruz and Sarah Palin, who called her "a feisty fighter for freedom." While U.S. Senator Ted Cruz offered praise, calling her an "utterly fearless principled conservative," he stopped short of an endorsement. In the primary, she received 36 percent of the vote, losing to Sessions, who received 63 percent. Pierson went on to become spokesperson for the Tea Party Leadership Fund.
Association with Trump 2016
In January 2015, Pierson attended a meeting for Tea Party activists in Myrtle Beach with Ted Cruz; while in Myrtle Beach, she additionally met with Donald Trump. After meeting with Trump or his aides a few more times in the spring, Pierson introduced Trump at a campaign rally held in Dallas in September. In November 2015, she was hired as the national spokesperson for Trump's campaign, subsequently appearing frequently on television in this capacity.