GJ residents file ethics complaint against Scott

Ray Scott

Three Grand Junction residents filed an ethics complaint Tuesday with the Colorado Senate against Sen. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction.

The three — Anne Landman, Claudette Konola and Martin Wiesiolek — have asked Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City, to convene an ethics investigation of Scott.

They say Scott has improperly infringed on their free-speech rights by blocking them from “one or more of his official social media accounts.”

“It is clear that Senator Scott blocks constituents from accessing his official social media forums whenever they criticize him and or express opinions that differ with his,” the three said in their complaint. “His actions violate our and other constituents’ rights of free speech.”

Scott, who had not heard about the complaint until contacted by The Daily Sentinel, said he’s only hidden some “inappropriate” comments from public view, adding that there’s nothing official about his social media accounts.

“I look at (social media) as something that I do personally because I scour news stories, and if I think it’s something of interest to constituents who might be friending me because they don’t get The Daily Sentinel, for example, I post the story,” Scott said. “The state doesn’t pay for this. There’s no state staffer that posts for me.”

That means no taxpayer dollars go into it, Scott said.

The three complainants say that because Scott is a duly elected official, his Twitter and Facebook accounts constitute a public forum that should be open to all.

“Senator Scott maintains his Facebook page and Twitter accounts under the aegis of his position as a state elected official for the purpose of interacting with members of the public,” the three said in their complaint. “He uses his Facebook page to share policy-related information with constituents. Senator Scott primarily uses his social media accounts as tools of governance, keeping constituents abreast of his official activities as a state senator.”

Scott said he only hides or blocks comments that are inappropriate or off subject, particularly if they are profane. A search of his Facebook and Twitter accounts revealed several posts critical of him.

One of the articles he’s recently posted on his Facebook page is from the American Civil Rights Union, a nonprofit group that often files lawsuits and court briefs in cases related to civil rights.

That article was about recent court cases against elected officials for blocking or editing posted comments from so-called trolls — people who frequently post inflammatory or offensive comments.

The article cites a recent federal court ruling in Virginia that said an elected county official violated the First Amendment by blocking a constituent’s criticism. That same judge, however, also said such elected officials are allowed to moderate comments if they harass or hinder others’ free-speech rights.

Under legislative rules, the Senate president, majority leader and minority leader will review if a complaint has merit to proceed to a full ethics investigation. Only two have to agree.


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Scott is lying about “only hiding ‘inappropriate comments’ of others” on his Facebook page. He blocks people from commenting on his FB page completely for merely offering opinions that differ from his own, or calling him out for errors or lack of information.  Scott himself has also made entirely inappropriate comments to others on his FB and then deleted them. There is plenty of evidence of what he has deleted from his FB account. This is also impermissible, since as an elected official what Scott writes is part of the public record. Scott also blocks people entirely from his Twitter account for commenting negatively on his tweets.

It doesn’t matter that Scott gets no state funding to operate his Facebook page. He classified himself as a “government official” when he created his page, so he clearly operates it under color of state government. It is a forum he himself established for carrying on conversations with his own constituents. That’s what the court requires to make it an official record.  In addition, Scott receives a taxpayer-funded salary, office, telephone number and email address. Notwithstanding that he poses personal information occasionally about his dog or a concert he attended, he uses his social media as a tool of governance, and blocking the public from it at all is illegal, according to a July 25, 2017 federal court ruling.

Since filing a frivolous ethics complaint against a public official tangentially qualifies as “news”, I guess a sensible beef would not be against the Good Old Sentinel on this one. But you have to put the story into context.
I did notice that Seaton put his toughest political “hit man”, Charles Ashby, on the story instead of the more sweet and charming Erin McIntyre. Maybe if you keep changing horses during the race, nobody will notice the Sentinel’s clear anti-Ray-Scott bias.
The problem for me is that Ashby still strategically omitted the fact that two different judges (James C. Cacheris and Anthony J. Trenga) from the same court (the United States District Court For The Eastern District Of Virginia) handed down two polar opposite opinions on the issue WITHIN ONE WEEK. It speaks volumes that the Sentinel is still choosing to ignore the opinion that doesn’t support their anti-Ray-Scott agenda.
If Judge Trenga’s is the more correct opinion/view, the “I got blocked” whiners have no case.
I don’t know Martin Wiesiolek from Adam, but I am familiar with some of the writings of Anne Landman and Claudette Konola. IMO, they are, for the most part, non-serious contrarian sophists who would rather hear themselves chatter than contribute anything substantive to any rational discussion.
Their complaint is embarrassingly premature. Policy has not yet remotely been turned into “settled law” which Scott would have a legal obligation to be aware of.
Don’t take my word for this stuff, do your own research.
Interested people can read Judge James C. Cacheris’ opinion at https://consumermediallc.files.wordpress.com/2017/07/randallmemo.pdf, and Judge Anthony J. Trenga’s opinion at http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/18918185436_Trenga.pdf.
The Sentinel is riding Judge Cacheris’ opinion while simultaneously omitting all mention of Judge Trenga’s OPPOSITE opinion.
Hardcore, endlessly repetitive, “Polly wants a cracker!” prog/lib propagandists such as Landman and Konola I understand, but why can’t Jay Seaton just take a deep breath, relax, and wait for the appellate courts to sort out policy on this issue?
It should be painfully obvious to anybody but the most politically naive and gullible individuals that the Good Old Sentinel has a dog in this hunt.

Ok, Mr Wilkenson, I did the research. In reading both decisions, it appears that the Trenga decision only differs from the Cacheris decision because the law covering the status of Facebook as a public forum is not settled. The Cacheris decision, issued just three days earlier, seems to settle that very question. So why do you prefer a later decision that was most likely unaware of the previous one, that settles the issue in question?

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