A candidate for Boulder city council sent a cease and desist letter to a group of community members and threatened to take legal action against them, arguing that there had been a coordinated campaign against his candidacy.
Steve Rosenblum, who is running for one of the five vacant board seats, sent the letter to Boulder Progressives and about 10 individual community members, including Liz Marasco, Claudia Hanson Thiem, Lauren Groth and SarahDawn Haynes, who are all involved in the campaigns of other candidates or local community groups. The camera does not name those who have not officially spoken as no official legal action has been taken yet.
Among other things, the lawsuit threatened in the letter alleges that some members of the community worked to prevent Rosenblum from receiving campaign support. He also alleges that websites and social media accounts were created bearing Rosenblum’s image without his permission.
In the letter, Rosenblum and his attorney, former Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett, demand that all sites and accounts be removed and those who received the letter apologize and retract via Garnett by 5 p.m. Thursday. . Otherwise, a formal complaint will be filed with the district court.
“This hijacking and downright malicious untruths is, frankly, a new kind of political discourse in Boulder that I’ve never seen before,” Garnett said in an interview. “I think Steve’s decision was the right thing to do to protect himself.”
Rosenblum said, “We hope not to sue. We hope to lower the temperature and resume discussion of the issues. “
Most of Rosenblum’s complaints relate to Safer Boulder Leaks, an anonymous blog whose camera has not been able to independently verify, which shares screenshots from a private Slack channel hosted by Safer Boulder, an ” grassroots community organization, “according to the complaint. Rosenblum provided a copy of the cease and desist letter and the draft complaint to the camera.
In the screenshots, many of which are included in the complaint, members of the Safer Boulder Slack channel make derogatory comments about homeless people, some of whom recommend violence against them.
At one point, the Safer Leaks blog shared Reddit posts attributed to Rosenblum which were later determined to be from another user, the complaint says. The blog eventually released an update, retracting that original claim and noting that it couldn’t prove a connection between Rosenblum and the Reddit account.
In the complaint, Rosenblum also specifically referred to a blog post posted by Boulder Progressives. The post opposes Rosenblum’s candidacy and shares some of the statements allegedly made by various members of the Slack channel, including one specifically shared by Rosenblum.
While only one of the Slack posts is linked to Rosenblum’s name, he maintains that the post shared by the Progressives attributes it all to him.
“These are things that represent Safer Boulder and Steve represents Safer Boulder,” Rosenblum said, explaining his understanding of the verbiage of the post.
He didn’t deny being involved with Safer Boulder, nor did he say the Slack conversations were fabricated. However, Rosenblum said he was not a channel moderator and many conversations were shared out of context.
“First of all, I am not one of the founders of Safer Boulder. I joined it a year or two after its creation, ”he said. “It was never my responsibility to moderate (the Slack conversation), even though I tried.
“(The Boulder Progressives) took other people’s comments, some of which were obnoxious, and tried to attribute them to me,” Rosenblum said.
The Camera contacted everyone who received the cease and desist letter. Many wanted to speak to a lawyer before commenting publicly, but almost all said they were surprised when the letter arrived home on Friday.
“I don’t understand why I’m named in this (threatened) lawsuit,” Claudia Hanson Thiem said in a statement, noting that she is on leave from Boulder Progressives. “… the only complaint against me as an individual is that I retweeted (with a heart-eye emoji) a third-party appreciation on the Boulder Progressives election chart and 2021 candidate endorsements.”
Hanson Thiem, who wrote guest opinions for the camera, is also named in the draft complaint for his role on the board of directors of Boulder Progressives, which published the disputed blog post. She is on leave with the political group while managing the campaign of city council candidate Nicole Speer and is among those who received the cease and desist letter.
Likewise, Lauren Groth, another member of Speer’s campaign committee, was included for reposting the Boulder Progressives blog post on Twitter. She stuck to that decision.
“Candidate Steven Rosenblum is threatening to sue me for saying that ‘transphobia, racism and violent rhetoric have no place in city council,'” Groth said in a statement. “These are words that I stand by.”
Civil conspiracy and libel are the two allegations Rosenblum and Garnett have threatened to make against all of those named if a public apology is not released.
“I knew politics was a dirty business,” Rosenblum said. “I didn’t expect it to be this dirty, especially in a place like Boulder.”
However, SarahDawn Haynes, one of those who sent a cease and desist letter, questioned whether a civil conspiracy or defamation complaint would consider First Amendment protection. The complaint claims that Haynes shared a post on Twitter about Rosenblum and used that information to block a possible endorsement from the Sierra Club Indian Peaks group, where Haynes is a member of the executive committee.
“It sounds like a blatant attack on the integrity of the people on the housing justice and racial justice side,” said Haynes.
Liz Marasco echoed those thoughts. She was included for sharing the Boulder Progressives blog post on Twitter.
“I think the purpose of this was intimidation and censorship,” she said. “It makes me really sad because it’s my community. I care enough to get into it almost daily. “
“I know Boulder doesn’t feel welcoming to a lot of people, and that means a lot to me,” added Marasco. “I want my community to be safe and diverse and that starts with changing our culture of silencing those who stand up for justice.”
Since Marasco is the campaign manager for city council candidate Dan Williams, Williams issued a statement, calling the threat of complaint an attempt to “suppress a vigorous conversation about (Rosenblum’s) past conduct.”
“If you are running for office, you must own your previous statements and actions,” Williams said in the statement. “Steve’s decision to use an expensive lawyer to threaten my campaign volunteers and try to end the debate is reprehensible.”