Frederick County Councilman Kirby Delauter backed off on Wednesday after his threat to sue a newspaper for using his name in a story only highlighted him in the most unflattering of ways, Talking Points Memo reported.
“Of course, as I am an elected official, the Frederick News-Post has the right to use my name in any article related to the running of the county — that comes with the job,” the Maryland Republican said in a statement released by county officials. “So yes, my statement to the Frederick News-Post regarding the use of my name was wrong and inappropriate. I’m not afraid to admit when I’m wrong.”
On Saturday, Delauter threatened the newspaper and reporter Bethany Rodgers online with a lawsuit for mentioning him in an article concerning a dispute between council members. Delauter said that Rodgers was never to use his name or reference him “in an unauthorized form.”
“Use my name again unauthorized and you’ll be paying for an Attorney,” Delauter wrote. “Your rights stop where mine start.”
Instead of stifling coverage, though, Delauter’s remarks only pushed him into the spotlight. His campaign Facebook page was derailed by hecklers, while local and national news outlets picked up on the story and criticized him.
“Uh, Council Member: In our country, newspapers are actually allowed to write about elected officials (and others) without their permission,” UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh wrote in the Washington Post. “It’s an avantgarde experiment, to be sure, but we’ve had some success with it.”
The News-Post‘s editorial board also skewered Delauter in a column titled, “Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter, Kirby Delauter”:
Instead of taking his job seriously like the voters demanded and the rest of the council seem to grasp, he’s grabbing at distractionary shoot-the-messenger tactics that make a lot of noise but, to quote Shakespeare, a man who knew drama when he saw it, noise that “signifies nothing.” Frederick County has big issues to tackle in 2015 and we have yet to hear Kirby Delauter sound out one single, sensible idea. He used the word “govern” in his slogan. Maybe he should apply that to his temper first.
On Wednesday, Delauter chalked up his threat against Rodgers to a moment of anger.
“The First Amendment is alive and well in Frederick County,” he stated. “As a public figure working to maintain and improve the county, it can be very frustrating to feel misrepresented or misinterpreted by a local media outlet.”
A report on Delauter’s brush with the spotlight, as aired on WJLA-TV on Tuesday, can be seen below.
The full statement from county officials, as posted by TPM, can be read here.