Governor LePage Facebook page unblocks users who posted criticisms

    In this May 5, 2018, file photo Gov. Paul LePage speaks at the Republican Convention in Augusta, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

    AUGUSTA (WGME) - Administrators of Governor LePage's Facebook page must unblock users who were blocked from the page after posting criticisms of the governor, according to a recent court settlement.

    The case goes back more than a year.

    In August 2017, the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine sued LePage after Karin Leuthy and Kelli Whitlock Burton were blocked from accessing or posting on the page, "Paul LePage, Maine's Governor."

    "While we would have loved to have had our day in court, we are satisfied with this outcome. We believe it will not only discourage other elected officials from attempting to silence their critics, but also support future cases brought against other elected officials in Maine and beyond," Leuthy and Whitlock Burton said in a statement.

    The Governor's Office has said it has nothing to do with the Facebook account, which has a verified blue check mark, and is used by Governor LePage for Facebook live videos.

    "The Governor has always pointed out that this page was not an official government page, and that he had nothing to do with its operation, and that remains true today. The Governor is glad the ACLU is going to dismiss its case and that there will be no further expenses incurred in defending this lawsuit," Press Secretary Julie Rabinowitz said in an email to CBS 13.

    The settlement is signed by LePage political adviser Brent Littlefield "on behalf of the Administrators of the Paul LePage, Maine's Governor Facebook page."

    Littlefield wouldn't say if he runs the page or who does.

    If you believe you were wrongly blocked from the page, contact by Dec. 13 with a request to have your status reinstated.

    The administrators of this page acknowledge that through labels and other actions taken by Facebook on its own initiative, some users of the page may have been confused about its status and may have believed this page was run by staff in State Government. The page was created in 2009 to support Governor LePage’s first election and has been used ever since as a home for the Governor’s political campaign efforts and for those who support the Governor’s policies. The page has been labeled as a page to support Governor LePage since its creation, according to a statement posted on the Facebook page.

    The ACLU says the case is an important step forward.

    "We hope it sends a signal to all elected officials in Maine that they should respect free speech rights on the internet, " said ACLU attorney Emma Bond.

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