TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - Shortly after News 18 reported the announcement of State Representative Sally Siegrist's opponent Wednesday, a tweet was sent from Siegrist's @Siegrist4INRep account.
It shares WLFI's story and reads, "Involved in the community? Really? Were you born here, raised here? Did you go to Lafayette Jefferson High School, particpate in Tippecanoe County 4-H, on mental @ health task force? Puleez. Contributed to county government? the very first nite you are slated, go negative. Tippe way?"
Several people sent us a screenshot of this tweet complaining about it and the fact she has set her account to private.
As a reporter, News 18's Kayla Sullivan has been following Siegrist's campaign Twitter since Siegrist was elected in 2016. However, now Sullivan has learned Siegrist has blocked her from the account and set it to private. That means people have to request Siegrist before viewing her tweets. However, when you are blocked, you can no longer request to follow someone.
Just like email, Facebook, and other forms of social media, reporters use public officials' Twitter feeds as a form of access.
It's not a personal problem for Sullivan that Siegrist has blocked her from her Twitter account, but it is a loss of transparency to a public official.
When asked whether Siegrist sent the tweet, why her account is private and why she blocked Sullivan, Siegrist said no further comment.
But she did say, "The focus for my campaign will be my record of service to my district, my plans for future service and I find it exciting that there are two candidates so eager to serve. Happy to discuss my record at any point."
Government officials blocking reporters on social media is nothing new.
However, a Federal Judge recently sided with reporters who were blocked on Twitter by President Donald Trump. Saying it violates the First Amendment.
Whether that ruling would hold up in Indiana is unknown. Public Access Counselor Luke Britt is looking into it. We have requested an advisory opinion. He said he should be able to get that out in a few weeks.
According to Siegrist, she does have three Twitter accounts.
The one she blocked Sullivan on, @Siegrist4INRep and another one, @SNRep which is not private and has one tweet and 13 followers.
We were unable to confirm her third Twitter account.
Calls to the Republican House Campaign Committee were not returned Friday.
We'll continue to follow this public access story as we get more information.
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