More than 200 people donated over $10,000 in one day to support Reality Leigh Winner and her family.
Winner, 25, who is accused of leaking a classified document to The Intercept, an online media outlet, has been jailed since she was taken into custody Saturday by federal agents.
Winner had worked for National Security Agency contractor Pluribus International Corp. when she reportedly copied a document about an analysis of how Russian military intelligence tried to influence the 2016 general election in which Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton.
“Let’s stand up with Reality Leigh Winner and her family! It is a difficult time for Reality Winner and her family. Please show your love and support with kind messages and a monetary donation if you feel led to do so,” wrote Shirley Fink, who set up the Go Fund Me page.
“This is a time to come together and unite in peace and hope and show the world LOVE ALWAYS WINS over hate!” .
Fink set up the page Monday but it was temporarily shut down when some people complained it violated Go Fund Me’s policies, she said. But the fund-raising site worked with her to address concerns and the page was re-activated. All of the funds raised will be held in trust for Winner and her family.
Fink, who is a writer and a mother with a background in political science, said she was moved by Winner’s bravery. “My heart just broke,” she said on learning of Winner’s arrest. The hateful and vile posts to Winner’s Facebook page were devastating, she said.
“To me she’s a hero,” Fink said.
After the original goal of raising $10,000 was reached by Wednesday afternoon - 237 people donated $10,080 - the goal was increased to $50,000.
Winner’s mother and stepfather traveled from their Texas home to Augusta to support her and ensure her pets were taken care of. Winner moved to Augusta and started with Pluribus in February. She lived alone in a rented Battle Row home with her pets.
After news of her arrest broke Monday, the same day The Intercept broke the story about the classified document and the Russians’ efforts to infiltrate the voting system in the United States, numerous media sources dug through social media sites to find postings believed to have been filed by Winner. Although aliases were used, Winner used her photograph on the sites where Trump and a number of his actions were criticized.
Following a backlash, the sites were shut down. Since Tuesday, a number of people responded on the Go Fund Me page with support for Winner.
“The deplorables and Trump disciples are worried sick that their savior will finally be exposed colluding with the Russians to throw the election,” wrote Russell Herbruck. “Support this patriotic vet and Americans who’ll be prosecuted by the conservatives for telling the truth.”
Not all posts were positive, however. “You’re a lowlife … and I hope you get the maximum time possible,” wrote David A. Adams.
Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or firstname.lastname@example.org.