Rep. Boebert separates personal, private Twitter accounts in response to federal lawsuit
GLENWOOD SPRINGS — After being sued in federal court for allegedly violating free-speech rights, Rifle business owner and Congressperson Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., argues through her attorney the motion be denied because the allegations ignore the distinction between personal and private Twitter accounts.
Bri Buentello, a former Democratic state representative based in Pueblo, brought legal action in January against Boebert after the Rifle Republican blocked her from accessing her Twitter account.
Buentello told the Post Independent on Tuesday that she originally told Boebert to resign following the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.
“I Tweeted that at 6 p.m. that day,” she said. Boebert was accused by some of potentially endangering other elected officials with her tweets that day. “I was blocked by 5 a.m. the next day.”
Buentello’s attorney, David Lane, argued that Boebert cannot legally bar constituents from access to her Twitter feed since she shares official policy on it.
Buentello said it’s worth noting the law makes no difference between personal and “so-called professional accounts.”
“The bottom line is, when you use that public platform to talk about policy, to talk about public stances and to talk about how you’re representing Congress, the Supreme Court has already ruled that that is in fact fair game,” she said. “It’s no difference from her trying to block my entrance to a public town hall in Pueblo. That to me is the principal in the matter, that’s worth standing up for every single time.”
Buentello also said the suit, which does not in fact seek damages, is simply “out of principle.”
“In my opinion, the First Amendment is always worth standing up for,” she said. “This is just purely to teach Rep. Boebert that the Constitution does not begin and end with the Second Amendment.”
By February, Boebert, in her personal capacity, filed an unopposed motion for an extension of time to respond to the preliminary injunction motion, which was granted by U.S. District Judge Daniel D. Domenico.
The Post Independent reached out to Boebert and her legal counsel for comment, but received no response.
Through her attorney Douglas Letter, Boebert’s injunction response argues the motion should be denied “because it ignores the critical distinction between the Congresswoman’s personal and official Twitter accounts, a mistake fatal to each of Ms. Buentello’s legal arguments.”
“The Motion alleges only that Ms. Boebert blocked Ms. Buentello from accessing her personal Twitter account, @laurenboebert,” court records state. “Ms. Boebert, however, operates that Twitter account in her individual capacity, not as a state actor. For that reason, there is no likelihood that Ms. Buentello can obtain the requested relief from the sovereign for private acts allegedly taken when Ms. Boebert was operating her personal Twitter account.”
Boebert has also sparked national and global controversy with her continued advocacy for the open carrying of firearms at the Capitol.
“It’s astonishing to me how this woman has spent her entire life — up to what, to age 34 or 35? — without ever having to face the consequences of her actions,” Buentello said. “Welcome to elected office and public accountability. This is what it means to serve.”
Buentello also said it’s time to kick “secessionists out of Congress.” She referred to a similar federal court case involving Marjorie Taylor Greene, another controversial U.S. representative for Georgia’s 14th congressional district.
“She went through the exact same thing and settled for $10,000 and had to unblock her constituent,” Buentello said. “I think maybe (Boebert) should talk to her fellow seditionist Marjorie Taylor Greene and maybe hear about her lessons in the First Amendment.”
Asked why she’s not requesting Boebert to defray damages excluding lawyer fees, Buentello said, “My lawyers don’t work for free.”
“Why should I have to pay hundreds, maybe even thousands of dollars, for Rep. Boebert to get a ninth grade civics education?” she said. “It’s embarrassing.”
Buentello also said she refuses to make another Twitter account to follow Bobert. So far, she’s still blocked from accessing Boebert’s Twitter account.
The entire case, she said, is to open up better accessibility to a sitting member of Congress.
“(Boebert) — to the tune of $180,000 — walks through sacred D.C. halls and treats it like its little more than a platform for her to develop a resume with Fox News, and I guess that’s the thing that I find so personally insulting is that office is being denigrated to very little more than a Twitter personality and a talking head on Fox,” Buentello said. “My hope is that she unblocks constituents and she has a new appreciation for the first amendment, and some day she’ll get a sense of what it’s like to serve.”
Despite Boebert’s injunction response, Buentello said she’s still confident in a final ruling.
“I feel our case is air tight,” she said. “Even the most conservative judges tend to rule on keeping a wide girth on the first amendment.”
Post Independent reporter Shannon Marvel contributed to this report.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Independent Summit County medical clinics voice frustrations with Peak Health Alliance’s selected carrier, Bright Health
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct that Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and Bright Health are the only providers in Grand and Lake counties.