But the ACLU Continues to Investigate Complaints
PHILADELPHIA – At the urging of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, U.S. Representative Ryan Costello of Chester County has agreed to unblock constituents from his official Facebook page, the civil liberties group announced in a statement today.
The ACLU of Pennsylvania sent Costello a letter in March on behalf of nine constituents threatening potential legal action over the congressman’s frequent blocking of his critics on his official Facebook page and viewpoint-based exclusion of constituents from his town hall meetings, which the ACLU explained undermined the constituents’ First Amendment free speech rights. The constituents who were blocked by Costello had expressed their opinions to him on a wide range of issues, including net neutrality, the environment, his support of President Trump, and his unwillingness to condemn racist, alt-right rhetoric.
“Democracy is noisy, and the right to free speech ensures that government officials hear what the people have to say,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “Our system of governance can’t work properly if elected officials cut off their constituents’ access in response to criticism.”
In response to the ACLU’s letter, the congressman’s staff also confirmed that they had blacklisted two of the constituents named in the letter from attending a January 2018 town hall meeting based on statements made by the constituents that the congressman’s staff considered “threats.” In follow-up discussions with Costello’s staff, the ACLU noted that the congressman’s staff had failed to identify any legitimate basis for deeming any of the named constituents security threats and reminded Costello in a subsequent letter that prohibiting their attendance at future events based on their views will lead to a lawsuit.
“Our constitutional rights can only be protected when people are willing to stand up and say, ‘This is not right,’” said Molly Tack-Hooper, staff attorney at the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “We are grateful that our clients were willing to speak out publicly—not only to defend their own rights, but to raise awareness about this problem and preserve everyone’s right to contact their representatives without fear of retaliation.”…
keep reading at ACLU-PA
It’s important to “monitor” our public servants to see how they are doing in serving their constituents and the public interest… and this is true whether or not they are running for reelection.
Monitoring Rep. Ryan Costello, 3/11-18: Costello 18 March 2018
and 3/18-25: Costello 25 March 2018
“Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.” — Thomas Jefferson
By Michael Rellahan, Daily Local News, 3/25/18
WEST CHESTER >> Ending weeks of speculation in local and national political circles, U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello, R-6 of West Goshen, confirmed to the Daily Local News Sunday that he will not be a candidate for another term in Congress.
“It was a combination of factors,” Costello said of his startling decision, citing personal and political considerations that weighed heavily on him, as well as a distaste for the prospects of waging a bitter and costly campaign to hold the office he has occupied since 2015. “It has been a deeply personal decision and evaluation.
“But those who love me agree and those who I love agree with it,” a seemingly resigned and subdued Costello said in a one-on-one interview in West Chester. “I will not be running for re-election.”…
keep reading at Daily Local News
in email from Gov. Wolf, 3/23/18:
As quoted in “PA Gov Blasts ‘Undemocratic’ GOP Impeachment Bid Over Gerrymandering,” TPM, 3/21/18.
Vs. (from “Rep. Costello calls for impeachment of Pa. justices for approving ‘corrupt’ map,” The Mercury, 2/20/18):
“I think that this was a politically corrupt process,” Costello said from his office at the Historic Chester County Courthouse. He called on the state Legislature to begin impeachment proceedings against those on the high court who had voted in favor of the redistricting and redrew the map, “behind closed doors.”
You be the judge which map is “rigged” (the Trumpist term used in another quote from Rep. Costello):
District PA-06 before and after the PA Supreme Court acted:
In the first image, the gerrymandered district 6 (purple), in which Rep. Costello was elected, includes computer-selected patches of 4 counties (Lebanon cCounty is off the map to the left), and Chester County is broken up among 3 districts.
The 2nd image shows the new district, in which Rep. Costello faces not only a R primary opponent but also impressively strong general election opposition from Chrissy Houlahan, now running unopposed in the Dem primary.