Editorial: The new public square

The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction): Based on what happened recently to Colorado Senate President Leroy Garcia, Sen. Ray Scott of Grand Junction appears to have dodged accountability for blocking constituents from his social media accounts.

As reported in The Colorado Sun, Garcia recently settled a lawsuit for $25,000 after a constituent sued him claiming the plaintiff’s First Amendment rights had been violated. Garcia had blocked the man from his “official” Facebook page for allegedly making critical statements.

A similar situation arose in 2017 involving Scott. The main difference is that three constituents who were blocked from Scott’s Facebook and Twitter accounts lodged an ethics violation complaint against him instead of filing a lawsuit — a choice Martin Wiesiolek has come to regret.

“We shouldn’t have been that nice,” Wiesiolek said Friday.

Wiesiolek said he pushed for an ethics investigation thinking it would resolve the issue more quickly than going through the courts. But a three-member ethics panel said the complaint had no merit — despite a set of circumstances similar to those that led Garcia to ask for the legislature’s Committee on Legal Services to cover the cost of his settlement. That means taxpayer money was used to end Garcia’s legal liability.

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