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Katrina Lanette Pierson (born Katrina Lanette Shaddix,[4] 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[6] to a white mother and a black father, and grew up with her mother in poverty.[8] Her mother, who gave birth to her at age 15,[4] initially gave her up for adoption, but later changed her mind.[8]

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.[4] 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.[4] 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.[4]

In 2006, Pierson earned a bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Texas at Dallas.[3][10]

Political career

Beginnings

After voting for Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election, Pierson joined the Tea Party movement, fitting an activist.[12] Pierson founded a local Tea Party group in Garland, Texas.[10][12] She actively supported Ted Cruz in the 2012 Senate race in Texas and appeared on stage with him on election night.[3]

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.[14][16] Her candidacy was endorsed by Rafael Cruz and Sarah Palin, who called her "a feisty fighter for freedom."[14] While U.S. Senator Ted Cruz offered praise, calling her an "utterly fearless principled conservative,"[16] he stopped short of an endorsement.[16] In the primary, she received 36 percent of the vote, losing to Sessions, who received 63 percent.[18] Pierson went on to become spokesperson for the Tea Party Leadership Fund.[3]

Association with Trump 2016

In January 2015, Pierson attended a meeting for Tea Party activists in Myrtle Beach with Ted Cruz;[3] while in Myrtle Beach, she additionally met with Donald Trump.[3] After meeting with Trump or his aides a few more times in the spring,[3] Pierson introduced Trump at a campaign rally held in Dallas in September.[3] In November 2015, she was hired as the national spokesperson for Trump's campaign,[3] subsequently appearing frequently on television in this capacity.[20]

Other matters

As of December 2015, Pierson served on the Texas Tea Party Caucus advisory committee.[12][10]

Personal life

Pierson had a three-month-long marriage[4] and gave birth to her son at age 15.[3]

As of 2015, Pierson and her son were residing in Garland, Texas.[10]