Today, Killmer, Lane & Newman, LLP filed a lawsuit against the City of Thornton and Jan Kulmann, Mayor Pro Tem and City Councilmember of Thornton, for violating the First Amendment rights of Cliff Willmeng and Eddie Asher. Mr. Willmeng is a well-known activist against oil and gas expansion in Colorado. He is currently campaigning for the position of Boulder County Commissioner. One of the main platforms of his campaign is protecting the people, and environment, of Boulder County from oil and gas drilling. Mr. Asher is a reservist who is actively opposed to the expansion of fracking in Colorado. He believes strongly in exercising the freedoms he defends on a daily basis as a member of the Marine Corps.
Mr. Willmeng and Mr. Asher both posted comments disagreeing with a Facebook post by Mayor Pro Tem Kulmann that outlined her support of Colorado Proposition 112, the Safer Setbacks Initiative. In response, Mayor Pro Tem Kulmann deleted Mr. Willmeng’s and Mr. Asher’s comments and banned them from commenting on her official Facebook page. Mayor Pro Tem Kulmann has been systematically deleting comments on her Facebook page that support Proposition 112, so that the public will have the impression that the community is against the Safer Setbacks Initiative. Mayor Pro Tem Kulmann is a salaried employee of Noble Energy who has used her public office to oppose regulation of the oil and gas industry in Colorado. Mayor Pro Tem Kulmann has a direct economic stake in Proposition 112 failing. Her use of Facebook to silence proponents of the Safer Setbacks Initiative is disturbing, yet unsurprising.
“It is clear that the First Amendment prohibits government officials from silencing critics because of their views. Jan Kulmann’s censorship of dissenting views and cultivation of a false impression that Proposition 112 is universally opposed is a familiar propaganda playbook employed by authoritarian leaders across the globe.” said Andy McNulty.
We are asking that the federal court enjoin Mayor Pro Tem Kulmann from blocking Mr. Willmeng and Mr. Asher, and bar her from deleting their comments.