Merissa Hamilton, Arizona Daily Independent defame Shane Wikfors

This post is about setting the record straight.

In October, 2021, the Arizona Daily Independent, owned by John and Loretta Hunnicutt, posted a false and defamatory story about Shane Wikfors at the request of a election denier, conspiracy theorist named Merissa Hamilton. Hamilton runs a Arizona-based political organization called Strong Communities Action that is registered with the Arizona Corporation Commission but is not registered as an IRS-approved non-profit organization.

Since its creation, Hamilton’s organization has sought out political opportunities to inject itself in the body politic as causes arise. The 2020 Election as well as local school district governing board controversies are examples of issues that Hamilton has used in an effort to elbow herself and her organization to the forefront as a player in Arizona politics.

Prior to Strong Communities Action, Hamilton worked for Phoenix Councilman, Sal DiCiccio doing generic constituent work. She left that office for reasons unknown but decided to run for Mayor of the City of Phoenix. She was unsuccessful in her bid for Mayor.

Prior to her time with the City of Phoenix, she ran as an unsuccessful candidate for US Senate and Governor of Arizona. During one of these campaigns, she staged a publicity stunt in which she was arrested by Phoenix Police for “obstructing a highway.”

It’s fair to say that Merissa Hamilton has an obsession for making her presence known in Arizona.

Last October, Merissa began a series of online attacks (using Twitter) on the Maricopa County Recorder, Stephen Richer and other election personnel over the 2020 Election. One of her tweets accused Richer of enabling a perpetrator who had previously abused Hamilton. In her tweet to the Recorder she decried that an early ballot with her abuser’s name had been sent to her residence. She argued that Richer was perpetuating the abuse against her by continuing to send the early ballot to her home.

Wikfors responded to the tweet by mentioning that if she felt in danger that Arizona allows victims to be placed on the Arizona Address Confidentiality Program. This program hides and protects a victim’s information from abusers with judicial approval. Hamilton ignored the suggestion and continued to attack both Richer and Wikfors.

In a reply to Hamilton’s false and hyperbolic allegations, Wikfors stated that only the voter can request a change to their voter registration information including a change of address. The County Recorder could not make that change nor could Merissa Hamilton herself. That is federal law.

Merissa Hamilton then began shifting her attacks toward Wikfors and factual information by calling him a “abuser apologist,” “EVIL PERSON” and “asshole.” That obviously got the attention of Wikfors who began searching and posting information on who Merissa Hamilton is and her associated organization. He looked up Strong Communities Action on the Arizona Corporation Commission, took a screenshot of the filing (see link above) and replied back to her asking if this was her organization.

She reported Wikfors’ post to Twitter and Twitter immediately locked his account as a rule violation (pre-Musk). Wikfors had simply posted the information about Hamilton’s political organization much like Hamilton does with users she attacks.

It’s important to remember that Merissa Hamilton ran for public office as a US Senate candidate, a statewide gubernatorial candidate and Mayor of Phoenix. She circulated petitions among the general population which displayed and disclosed her personal information including address. Her personal information has always been accessible and she is a shameless self-promoter.

Merissa Hamilton wants to be a public figure.

Wikfors, who served on a faith-based non-profit board of directors is no stranger to domestic violence situations. He has spent over 16 years in servant leadership helping women in extreme poverty, crisis pregnancies and domestic violence situations.

After Hamilton reported Wikfors’ tweet to Twitter, she then began tweeting directly at his employer demanding that he be fired from his job. Because his employer (Maricopa County) cannot block tweets, staff were subject to Hamilton’s constant attacks and harassment on their co-worker.

Hamilton then contacted the Arizona Daily Independent and asked them to post a story about the incident on their fake news site. A writer with the blog, Terri Jo Neff, took up the request and posted the story. Neff who is a twice-convicted felon never contacted Wikfors to confirm Hamilton’s allegations. The Arizona Daily Independent simply ran with the story without conducting any fact checking.

Shortly after ADI’s post went public, Wikfors received a call from a fellow board member who serves with him on the non-profit board of directors. He mentioned that a man had entered the non-profit’s main center screaming and shouting about Wikfors and claiming that the organization was allowing a domestic violence perpetrator on its board of directors. Staff and women who were in the center at the time, were terrified.

The point in making this post is to correct the narrative and lies that Merissa Hamilton and the Arizona Daily Independent have perpetrated on Wikfors and his employer and non-profit organization. Wikfors believes this was all motivated over politics because he offered a simple solution that was rejected and met with false hyperbolic accusations.

Wikfors demands that the Arizona Daily Independent remove its defamatory piece, reject lazy journalism and refuse to give a voice to individuals who choose to use online platforms as a weapon.

Wikfors also noted that Arizona Daily Independent’s defamatory article has also cost him numerous personal and professional opportunities and he is considering a defamation lawsuit.