Peoria Mayor Sued Over Response to Twitter Account

The lawsuit alleges Peoria's mayor and police chief violated free speech rights

Thursday, Jun 12, 2014  |  Updated 12:39 PM CDT
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Peoria Mayor Sued Over Response to Twitter Account

peoriagov.org

Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against Peoria's mayor and police chief alleging they violated free speech rights with a raid on the home of a man who created a parody Twitter account in the mayor's name.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Peoria, seeks monetary damages on behalf of 29-year-old Jonathan Daniel.

Daniel set up the account in March. It included Mayor Jim Ardis' photo, and in crude language, the tweets talked about sex and drugs.

As part of the investigation, police officers raided a home and seized computers and phones.

Three people at the home were brought to a police station to be interviewed, as were two other people who were met by police at their workplaces.

Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard said at the time the officers were investigating it as a possible case of impersonating a public official, an offense punishable with a fine of up to $2,500 and up to a year in jail.

Daniel was arrested April 15, but prosecutors declined to charge him.

In April, Ardis said he felt he was "a victim of sexual doggerel and filth" and defended his actions.

The lawsuit called the account a "satiric form of expression protected by the First Amendment" and said no one could have reasonably thought the tweets actually came from the mayor.

The mayor's office didn't immediately comment.

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