HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — As first reported by ABC27. Lt. Gov. John Fetterman received a demand letter Friday requesting he apologize and unblock two Twitter users who responded to images of his wife, Pennsylvania Second Lady Gisele Fetterman, wearing a traditional Carnaval outfit.
In a caption with the photo, Fetterman said he is “waiting on confirmation” from a Pennsylvania historian to determine whether or not Mrs. Fetterman is indeed the “1st, Second Lady” to dress in “Carnaval do Brasil” garb.
The tweet and photo received dozens of replies, including from the two men responsible for the demand letter.
Attorney Marc Scaringi is representing Sean Guay, of Hummelstown, and Jason Lindemuth, of Harrisburg, who claim their First Amendment rights were violated by Fetterman blocking them.
The digital debacle started when Lindemuth wrote about the photo: “Exhale folks … confirmation received. Mrs. Fetterman is in fact the first 2nd lady to be a Carnaval Dancer. Thank you to the Fettermans for this effort in Making PA Great”, inserting an eye roll emoji after his message.
In a series of tweets and in a comment to another news outlet about Lindemuth’s comments, the Fettermans alleged his words amounted to body shaming, but Scaringi said that could not be further from the truth.
“If you read [Lindemuth’s] tweets, he’s basically saying, ‘what is the big deal about all of this, aren’t there more important things?” Scaringi said. “I think probably the lieutenant governor is proud of his wife, he’s proud of the Second Lady. [As] a taxpayer-paid public official, why is the lieutenant governor spending his time promoting his wife as a Carnaval dancer? There are more important things that should be commanding the time and attention of the lieutenant governor. That’s the point that my client was making. You can’t reasonably construe or interpret my client’s tweets as to have anything to do with body shaming.”
In one tweet, Guay said: “This image is giving me flashbacks of my Super Bowl halftime outrage.”
The two men say they have a right to engage with Fetterman’s Twitter account, which could be considered a “designated public forum.”
The letter cited two lawsuits where public officials were sued for blocking Twitter users: one where President Donald Trump was sued by a group of people he blocked and lost to (the President has since asked for an en banc review of that decision), and another where Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez apologized and unblocked a man critical of her politics.
Federal courts have established that public officials are not allowed to block Twitter users.
The letter says the lieutenant governor has seven days to issue an apology to both men and another specifically to Lindemuth for accusing him of “sham[ing]” Fetterman’s wife.
The lieutenant governor risks a defamation lawsuit if he does not comply, according to Scaringi.
ABC27 News reached out to Fetterman’s office multiple times asking for a comment or statement on the letter but did not hear back.
The full document sent to the lieutenant governor can be read below: