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Former state lawmaker sues U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert for blocking her on Twitter

Attorney: It's a violation of basic free speech
Posted at 10:52 PM, Jan 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-18 09:40:06-05

DENVER — Colorado's firebrand 3rd District Congresswoman Lauren Boebert has been blocking critics on her personal Twitter account. That move has landed her in hot water.

A constituent, former State Representative Bri Buentello, has filed a lawsuit against Boebert in U.S. District Court, alleging violation of her First Amendment rights.

Buentello, whose term ended last week, told Denver7 she'd heard from constituents that Boebert was blocking them on Twitter, so she sent a tweet to the Congresswoman telling her she can't do that.

"I was so shocked at first I thought they were mistaken," she said. "In freshman orientation, you walk in the door. The first thing they do is show you where the bathrooms are, tell you how to file a bill and say, 'By the way, don't block constituents because that's an infringement on their First Amendment rights.'"

Buentello said she was incensed when she saw Boebert's tweets Jan. 6, the day thousands of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.

"Today is 1776," Boebert tweeted that morning and then, later that day, tweeted "The speaker has been removed from Chambers."

Buentello said those tweets were messages to protesters.

"A sitting congresswoman participating in sedition is not normal," the Pueblo Democrat said.

Buentello tweeted in reply, "#Recall @LaurenBoebert and #SeditionCaucus."

Within 24 hours, the Congresswoman blocked her.

Civil Rights attorney David Lane, of the law firm Kilmer, Lane and Newman LLP, said Boebert is infringing on his clients First Amendment rights.

"She is constantly complaining about the alt-right being censored, and social media censoring people, and here she is," he said. "Any hint of criticism on her Twitter page — she blocks the critic instantly."

Lane filed the lawsuit Sunday morning to send a message.

"It's the hypocrisy of this authoritarian-elected representative who only thinks the Constitution extends to the Second Amendment," he said. "She doesn't even know there is another part of the Constitution beyond the Second Amendment, so our job is to try to teach the authoritarian politician to respect the Constitution."

Lane said it makes no difference that Boebert was blocking critics on her personal, not work, Twitter account.

He said President Donald Trump was sued for the same thing and lost.

"Donald Trump tried to defend by saying, 'That's my personal account,' but the court made short shrift of that argument, saying all he posts are political issues, therefore it's a political forum, and you can't block it."

Lane also said the First Amendment applies to government — not to companies like Facebook or Twitter.

He said companies can censor, but government officials can't.

When asked about the lawsuit, Jeff Small, Boebert's Chief of Staff said, "The office will not be commenting on any pending litigation."

Earlier this month, Boebert told Denver7 she represents 800,000 people in her district, "that will never have an opportunity to stand on the House floor, to voice their concerns. So I am taking on the role of being their megaphone."

Buentello is not happy with the job Boebert has done so far.

"In case nobody's told her yet, she doesn't just work for the far-right Republicans who live in her district. She works for all of us. She works for me, she works for my husband. She works for my Republican best friend. She works for everybody that lives in those 25,000 square miles," she said.