HARRISBURG, Pa. — An attorney for the two men who threatened to sue Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman claimed "a big victory for the First Amendment" after Fetterman unblocked his clients on his personal Twitter page, but said they are still considering their options concerning a possible defamation lawsuit.
In a letter sent to FOX43, attorney Marc Scaringi said his clients Jason Lindemuth of Harrisburg and Sean Guay of Hummelstown are “very pleased that they are victorious in their challenge to the Lt. Governor. Mr. Lindemuth and Mr. Guay are true champions of the first amendment.”
The pair had sent a letter to Fetterman threatening legal action if he did not unblock them by Friday and apologize.
Fetterman argued the men had demeaned his wife on Twitter, and that one of them posted an inappropriate link.
The comments followed a post on Fetterman’s personal account of his wife Giselle, who is a native of Brazil, in traditional Carnaval costume.
But the men argued Fetterman’s personal Twitter page is a de facto government page, and blocking them was against their First Amendment right to free speech.
Scaringi said he also took issue with the suggestion that the men ‘shamed’ anyone.
On Thursday, FOX43 broke the story that the Lieutenant Governor decided to unblock the men, but that he refused to apologize.
Fetterman released a statement to FOX43 that read: “you and your clients appear willing to squander taxpayer resources in this frivolous endeavor. In this, and in every instance, my first instinct is to avoid this waste whenever possible. Your clients unblocked status will be revisited if they again target my family with unwelcome postings on my personal Twitter account. I am neither offering nor requesting an apology and consider this matter closed."
But Scaringi said it was Fetterman, and not his clients, who risked using taxpayer resources to solve the issue.
The situation, he said, could have been easily avoided if Fetterman had simply unblocked the men.
In his statement, Fetterman said “your clients’ unblocked status will be revisited if they again target my family with unwelcome postings on my personal Twitter account.”
In turn, Scaringi wrote, “The Lt. Governor’s un-sued status will be revisited again if he blocks my clients from his de facto government Twitter account.”
His clients, Scaringi said, do not consider the matter closed.
"The Lt. Governor made statements to the media that have harmed my clients’ reputations," he said.
“Neither Mr. Lindemuth nor Mr. Guay attacked the Lt. Governor’s spouse, his children or spread hateful speech or rhetoric,” said Scaringi.
Fetterman accused Guay of posting an inappropriate link that he termed "islamaphobic" and "dog-whistling."
Scaringi disputed that characterization.
"The Lt. Governor should know that Mr. Guay is not racist or islamaphobic," he said. "He does not fear or hate Muslims; he married one. Mr. Guay’s wife, Yesmin Farzana, immigrated to the U.S. from Bangladesh, a Muslim majority country. Mr. Guay is proud of his wife’s culture and heritage. Perhaps the Lt. Governor would like to meet her someday.”
As for a potential defamation lawsuit, Scaringi said, “perhaps such a lawsuit could be avoided if the Lt. Governor reached out to his two constituents, tried to get to know them and to understand what they think are important issues for the Lt. Governor to spend his time addressing."