A downtown Leesburg business received an unusual email Thursday morning, and has publicized a response to the sender who threatened to put them on a political blacklist.
The owner of Finch Knitting + Sewing Studio, Nicole Morgenthau, published the email she received on the business’ Facebook page. The email, with the subject line “Are you an anti-election establishment?”, says a list is being compiled of Leesburg businesses “that are openly hostile to customers who voted for Donald Trump.”
It asks the business owner to refute “tips” that had allegedly been received that she had published several Facebook posts that were hostile toward the election of the new president. If she declined to comment, the email continued, “we will assume these comments are legitimate and publish your information in an upcoming guide.”
Reached this afternoon, Morgenthau said she was “shocked” when she read the email.
“It’s not something that makes any kind of sense based on what we do at Finch,” she said.
Morgenthau added that her personal Facebook page is also free of tirades against the president or his election.
The email was signed by Michelle Madigan and did not identify a specific organization. When Morgenthau responded to the email asking what social media posts they were referring to, she received a response that said they were given tips from people on a listserv that said there had been “multiple tirades against the president” posted on social media by the business. That email said they had not personally seen the posts, but would “ask for screenshots.” That email was signed by Kelly Shaw, Morgenthau said.
Morgenthau added that one of the emails she received included a link to a story about a Tennessee knitting shop where the business owner refused to sell pink yarn to those participating in the recent Women’s March.
As to who may have sent the emails, or what the impetus for them was, Morgenthau said she has no idea. “I have no known enemies,” she joked.
Loudoun Now has not confirmed the identities of Michelle Madigan or Kelly Shaw. An email sent to the address used to send the threat to Morgenthau has not been returned.
Morgenthau shared the initial email she received with members of the Leesburg Downtown Business Association, but said, so far, it seems she is the only one who has received such an email.
She has used the opportunity to “reiterate what we stand for.” In a post shared on the business’ Facebook page, she shared her response to the first email she received:
“Hello Michelle, We are not and never have been hostile toward any human being who wishes to step foot in the front door of Finch. As a matter of fact, the very groundwork of Finch has always been to be a place of inclusiveness. We acknowledge and embrace that we have customers who come from a wide variety of political, racial, and religious backgrounds. Just as this diversity of beliefs occurs in many of our own families, the Finch family is a safe haven, a neutral space where any and all beliefs are sacred and anybody should feel welcome. All belong here.”