Update, sort of: We’re having fun with a Lassa supporter on Facebook who says, yes, I should have been blocked for disagreeing with her. Check it here.
In the aftermath of last week’s Senate debate on Right to Work, Sen. Julie Lassa and her office have demonstrated a patent and dangerous disregard for ideological opposition. Indeed, in an office whose leader is largely bipartisan on many issues important to Wisconsin, Lassa’s media relations staffer, Mark Knickelbine, shares far-left politics on social media and demonstrates gross distaste for my insistence on an honest answer to a simple question: Why did Senator Lassa block me on Twitter? (If you’re new to this, I never called names, made jabs, or caused trouble; I posed a fair argument to something the Senator said on the floor of the Senate; check the link for details).
Knickelbine says he’s off the hook to answer my question because it’s the Senator’s personal account, not an official one, and that I should call her at home for an answer.
When asked what would constitute an official social media account, Knickelbine explained the account either had to be an official Facebook page or a site on the state’s servers. In his estimation, Twitter is excluded from being an official campaign resource, even when it very explicitly includes the Senator’s name and title.
When I pressed for an answer, Knickelbine reinforced that by contacting the office I was wasting his and the office’s time and that asking such questions is a misuse of the state’s resources. But that’s absurd, especially in light of the revelation that Lassa is solely responsible for her account. It would be expected that some beret-wearing intern would scoff and block someone who poses a counterargument. Instead, we find that Senator Lassa herself wanted to shut out someone who argues with her.
Of perhaps paramount concern is the question of whether Knickelbine has used state time, money and resources to disparage Governor Walker. Was he using a state-purchased computer, state-purchased Internet, or a state-purchased smartphone to make these posts to Facebook, each of which was posted during the week between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm?
The biggest problem is that they think I’m rabble-rousing for the sake of it. No, I’m rabble-rousing because an elected representative spent state time on the floor of the Senate talking about hearing everyone’s viewpoint, then shut out someone’s viewpoint. Republican staffers have lost their jobs over less.
Our complete, though brief, email exchange below:
From: Nik Nelson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: call follow-up
Date: February 26, 2015 at 5:17:39 PM CST
To: “Knickelbine, Mark” <Mark.Knickelbine@legis.wisconsin.gov>
What would qualify her twitter account to be part of her official social media?
In the account description for @juliemlassa, it is explained, “State Senator Julie Lassa represents the 24th Senate District in Wisconsin. An independent voice for change, Lassa always puts the people of her district first.”
The only other twitter account is specific to her failed Congressional run and has not been updated since 2010.
In the account she currently maintains, she identifies herself as the State Senator from the 24th Senate District. And she also makes no efforts to make her comments on that account separate from her official capacity as a Senator. Your claim is ridiculous on its face and just because some staffer in your office isn’t responsible for that account’s content, doesn’t mean you aren’t on the hook to answer my question.
Furthermore, since no one in your office handles the account, I assume the Senator does personally — calling into question her judgment with regard to constituent interaction. What is the Senator’s litmus for test for blocking someone? Is it based solely on his or her political affiliation?
Secondly, per her account description, am I not “put first” because I’m not a member of her district? Thank you for your time.
On Feb 26, 2015, at 4:57 PM, Knickelbine, Mark <Mark.Knickelbine@legis.wisconsin.gov> wrote:
As I shared with you earlier, Senator Lassa’s Twitter account is her own personal account, and is not part of her official social media. I did pass along your message to the Senator.
Media Relations Specialist
Office of State Senator Julie Lassa 24th Senate District
P.O. Box 7882
Madison, WI 53707-7882
From: Nik Nelson [mailto:email@example.com] Sent: Thursday, February 26, 2015 4:48 PM
To: Knickelbine, Mark
Subject: call follow-up
Following up to my call earlier today.
Curious to know why Sen. Lassa blocked me on Twitter. My handle is @_niknelson. Thanks,