Mimi German, a Portland activist and vocal critic of Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, has seized upon the opportunity presented by screenshots of Eudaly's personal Facebook posts to file a federal lawsuit.
In the complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon, German claims the commissioner and the City of Portland violated her First and 14th Amendment rights. Those would include the rights to free speech, personal security and petitioning the government for redress of grievances.
German, who often testifies in front of the council, alleges the commissioner started a thread on her personal Facebook page about German's public testimony and friends piled on, calling her a "witch," "psychopath," "unhinged" and seeking out and mocking her personal poetry. German claims this constitutes unlawful retaliation by a government official.
German obtained the screenshots through a third party, but sought to have records released pertaining to her and her testimony through the city's public records process. The city denied the request, stating that the records were not public. An appeal to the Multnomah County District Attorney revealed that Eudaly had made the decision not to release the records herself.
"Ms. German and Commissioner Eudaly have no personal relationship and did not know each other prior to the Commissioner taking office," argues the lawsuit in part. "Therefore, it's obvious that all statements Commissioner Eudaly has made about Ms. German are related to her public testimony and political activism, and therefore official records that pertain to the city business. Ms. German believes that the Commissioner knows this and is wrongfully and illegally refusing to produce public documents because they will embarrass her, and will serve as evidence of her other illegal and potentially tortious actions."
Eudaly's Chief of Staff Marshall Runkel declined comment for this story. A text message sent to Eudaly was not immediately returned.
Eudaly has previously told the Tribune that she feels constituents have plenty of opportunity to speak to her.
"As for my personal page, it is not a public forum and I reserve the right to block anyone I want. I have a high threshold for conflict and I love a good debate, but I don't have time for people deliberately spreading misinformation, misrepresenting conversations with myself or my staff, using insulting or derogatory language, exhibiting abusive behavior, etc.," Eudaly wrote in an email Dec. 4. "All constituents have an equal opportunity to contact my office via phone, email, or post, give testimony at Council, or comment on my City page."
German is asking the court for a to-be-determined amount of money for damages, the release of records deemed public, and to compel the commissioner to attend city council meetings.
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