Second Fulton election worker: ‘Giuliani just messed me up’

Ruby Freeman had loved candy since she was a child. The grandmother who raised her always put candy in her stocking.

She especially liked ginger mints.

“I always used it, especially during the pandemic,” Freeman told a federal jury Wednesday, holding up a mint. “If someone coughed or sneezed or something, I felt it would help, that it was something soothing.”

In Rudy Giuliani’s telling, a symbol of kindness became something sinister after the 2020 presidential election. He saw Freeman handing her daughter, Shaye Moss, something late on election night in security footage of ballot counting at State Farm Arena.

According to Giuliani, they weren’t sharing mints. They were passing around “USB ports like they were vials of heroin or cocaine.” He said they were stealing the election, likening their actions to a “bank heist.” And he said they were getting off “scot-free.”

In the weeks to come, Freeman received hundreds of threats, fled her home and – eventually – gave up the clothing business that bore her name. She said her daughter’s life also was destroyed.

“Giuliani just messed me up,” Freeman told jurors, sobbing and wiping her eyes. “He messed up my name. He messed up my business. He messed up my daughter. It was horrible.”

Freeman’s emotional testimony came on the third day of a trial to determine how much Giuliani must pay for making false allegations of voting fraud against Freeman and Moss. The two are former Fulton County election workers who counted absentee ballots on election night 2020.

Giuliani, Trump and others accused them of double-counting ballots and other illegal actions as they sought to overturn Democrat Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia. The FBI, the GBI and the secretary of state’s office investigated the allegations and found nothing improper happened.

But Giuliani and Trump made the allegations the centerpiece of a media campaign designed to pressure Georgia officials to overturn Biden’s victory. They detailed that campaign in a “strategic communication plan” that spelled out how they would spread the allegations across social media, conservative media outlets, podcasts, local TV and other media.

Freeman and Moss later filed a defamation lawsuit against Giuliani. U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell has already found Giuliani liable for defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and conspiracy. Now a jury must determine how much Giuliani should pay in damages.

On Tuesday, Moss testified about the emotional toll of threats that continue to this day. On Wednesday, it was Freeman’s turn.

She told jurors how her beloved nickname – Lady Ruby – became her undoing after Giuliani unveiled edited footage that showed her, Moss and others counting ballots on election night.

On that night, she was wearing a shirt advertising her “LaRuby’s Unique Treasures” online clothing boutique. People who watched the video saw her shirt and tracked her down.

The first emails arrived early in the morning after Giuliani unveiled the footage.

“You cheating-{expletive] piece of [expletive],” one stranger wrote. “Hope they lock you up and throw away the key, you disgusting [expletive] traitor.”

“[Black Lives Matter] wants the cops to go away,” wrote another. “Good. They are in the way of my ropes and your tree!”

In the days ahead, hundreds of such messages came via email, social media, text messages and voice mails. Freeman told jurors how strangers showed up at her house.

She said things died down before Christmas, but picked back up in early January – about the time the Trump media campaign kicked in.

Freemen fled her house on the advice of the FBI and didn’t return for two months. Eventually, she moved. She also gave up her business and her nickname.

“I was so scared,” Freeman said. “I can’t use my name no more.”

Giuliani’s attorney, Joseph Sibley, chose not to cross-examine Freeman.

Earlier in the day, jurors heard from Ashlee Humphreys, an expert on reputational damages at Northwestern University. She analyzed defamatory statements about the election workers made by Guiliani, Trump and the Trump campaign.

Humphreys found the statements were circulated on social media, online video sites, podcasts, television and other media. Those posts made tens of millions of “impressions” – a measure of how many people saw the comments and how many times they saw them. Sometimes the statements generated social media comments saying Freeman and Moss should be jailed or executed.

The results: Humphreys testified the false voting fraud claims have had a significant negative and long-lasting impact on the reputations of Freeman and Moss.

Humphreys also calculated the cost of repairing their reputations through a media campaign. She estimated it would cost between $17.9 million and $47.3 million – with the higher estimate more likely to be accurate.

As he cross-examined Humphreys, Sibley cast doubt on her method, saying it had only been used to assess damages in one other court case. And he questioned whether spending millions to repair the reputations of Freeman and Moss would be successful.

In his opening argument, Sibley also said much of the damages suffered by Freeman and Moss cannot be traced directly to Giuliani.

The trial will continue Thursday, when Giuliani is expected to take the stand in his own defense.