Elected officials are frequently contacted by constituents who agree or disagree with them on issues. This is totally normal, expected and healthy. Frankly, I wish I was contacted more by constituents, even those who disagree, because at least that would mean that people were paying attention!
Anyway, when a constituent contacts an elected official, it is totally reasonable to expect a response from that official, with the elected in question explaining their position. What should never be expected, of course, is that the elected official releases the private correspondence from a constituent – along with that constituents name and contact information.
Yet, in Minneapolis, that is exactly what happened.
Council member Alondra Cano appeared at a Black Lives Matter rally last week. Stephen Dent, a previous supporter of Councilwoman Cano, wrote to the Councilwoman to complain, saying that she was unfit to serve office because of her attendance at the rally. Cano then tweeted out the letter that Dent wrote, along with his name and contact information. The councilwoman did the same to others – here’s an example:
Dent, understandably, was less than pleased, as are others. For her part, Councilwoman Cano has not responded to inquiries from the media about the issue.
It is important to note that what Councilwoman Cano did is not illegal. State open records laws do not prohibit the releasing of personal information or constituent correspondence. That being said, this is insane. Unquestionably, some of the Emails that the Councilwoman chose to publicize is disgusting and a poor example of how to influence an elected official. That being said, like it or not, people have a right to (within broad limits) say whatever they want to an elected official. It is inappropriate for an elected official to release contact information of people who contact them. This can easily be interpreted as an attempt to intimate and silence constituents who disagree, even if that wasn’t the intent.
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