California lawmaker apologizes for ‘censoring’ critics on Facebook

Original Article Link: California lawmaker apologizes for ‘censoring’ critics on Facebook (

by Jordan Ingram

State Sen. Catherine Blakespear issued a public apology today for previously “blocking and censoring” critics on social media, a concession signaling the end of a 15-month legal dispute between the first-term California lawmaker and several of her constituents.

The apology, posted on Blakespear’s official Facebook page late Tuesday morning, comes just days after The Coast News confirmed a settlement had been reached between Blakespear and four Encinitas residents in a breach of contract and free speech lawsuit filed last September.

The lawsuit accused the state senator of violating a previously signed settlement agreement by issuing a bad-faith apology and paying a $5,000 fee using her campaign funds rather than personal finances.

The original out-of-court settlement arose in May 2022 after more than a dozen residents alleged Blakespear had violated their constitutionally protected free speech rights by preventing them from participating on her then-mayoral Facebook page.

“Members of the public may be aware that a controversy arose in 2022 regarding claims that I blocked and censored certain individuals on my public social media,” Blakespear wrote on Facebook. “A subsequent lawsuit, J. Garvin Walsh et al v. Blakespear, was then filed against me. The parties to that lawsuit have entered into a settlement agreement and resolved that lawsuit. I, Catherine Blakespear, apologize for blocking and censoring certain individuals on my public social media who I blocked and censored.”

The Coast News reached out to Blakespear to confirm whether the public apology was part of the recent deal, but Blakespear was “unable to confirm or deny whether this was part of the settlement agreement.”

“After an 11-hour mediation last Friday, we reached a settlement agreement,” Blakespear told The Coast News in a statement. “The terms are confidential, but I believe both sides are satisfied with the result, or we wouldn’t have settled. The nature of mediation is that neither side gets everything, but both sides find a way toward resolution. I believe that has happened here. I look forward to returning my full attention to the issues the residents of the 38th District elected me to focus on.”

Garvin Walsh, one of four plaintiffs in the lawsuit, told The Coast News he was pleased with the outcome.

“The Plaintiffs are gratified that Ms. Blakespear issued the apology, as she was required to do,” Walsh wrote in a statement. “The whole thing was an unpleasant experience from the very beginning — we’re happy now that it is nearly over and that we have surpassed our original goals. We owe a great deal to our attorney, Carla DiMare, whose experience and tenacity were a big factor in our success.”

According to sources familiar with the matter, negotiations began after the plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal on April 3 in the Fourth District Court of Appeal, a response to Blakespear’s anti-SLAPP victory in May that awarded her more than $120,000 in attorney’s fees.

DiMare, who felt the Superior Court Judge Blaine Bowman’s anti-SLAPP ruling was “wrongly decided” and inconsistent with the facts of the case, issued a statement to The Coast News shortly after Blakespear’s public apology.

“The Plaintiffs are very happy about the settlement, and especially happy that Judge Bowman’s erroneous orders have become irrelevant,” DiMare said.

In May, CalMatters reported that Blakespear had opened a legal defense fund, raising money from interest groups to help with the costly litigation that had dragged on for over a year.

Blakespear’s fund received donations totaling over $100,000, including a $15,000 loan from her campaign, $45,596 in non-monetary contributions (legal services) from the California Democratic Party and donations from longtime supporter and San Diego property giant Gerry Ranglas of R&V Management ($5,000) and Pechanga Band of Indians ($5,500).

David Snyder, attorney and executive director of the First Amendment Coalition, previously told The Coast News that such legal cases involving the social media pages of political figures are becoming increasingly common, describing it as an “evolving field of law.”

In April, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to consider similar cases involving public officials blocking their constituents on social media platforms, including one from Poway Unified School District. The high court will not hear the new issues before the fall.

Image Credit: Canva

Original Article Link: California lawmaker apologizes for ‘censoring’ critics on Facebook (