Boulder Progressives speak out against threatened SLAPP suit intended to chill free speech

The mission of Boulder Progressives is to advocate for policies that protect human rights, and advance social and environmental justice in Boulder. To that end, we believe that people should know who they’re voting for in local elections, because those leaders shape policy that impacts us all.

But a candidate threatening to sue would-be constituents, with the goal of shutting down public scrutiny, is not a great precedent to start, even if you are relatively new to Boulder and believe it may help boost your name recognition.

Steven Rosenblum, candidate for city council, has recently levied the threat of a lawsuit against us and other community members for sharing information about his past statements, and statements by persons with whom he affiliates. SLAPP stands for Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, which is what we believe this complaint would be characterized as, should it actually be filed. SLAPP suits are so damaging because they can effectively chill public speech and debate by targeting people who speak out on issues in the public interest. In this case, it’s from a wealthy real estate investor against a bunch of volunteers and campaign workers, most of whom have strong track records within the Boulder community for advancing housing equity and environmental justice.

Coming from someone who said he wanted to “turn down the temperature”, we view this public showing of power and wealth as divisive political theatre. And we saw the playbook for such a move with President Trump—another litigious, thin-skinned candidate known for attacking political opponents who dared to challenge him.

Threats like this don’t just impact us—they impact everyone who engages in public speech, and they weaken the health of our democracy. Public vetting of candidates seeking leadership roles is a critical and a valid part of our electoral process. We strongly reject the attack on our First Amendment rights.