Kirby Delauter needs to be taught a lesson.
I will try to teach him one right here.
Delauter serves on the Frederick County, Md. County Council. He’s an elected public official, whose statements made in a public forum become grist for the media at any time. He makes statements on the record, for the record. They become part of the public domain.
And yet …
This individual is threatening to sue the Frederick News-Post if it uses his name in any fashion “without permission.”
Without permission? That means, if I’ve read the news story correctly about this tidbit, that the News-Post must get his permission to quote him by name even if he says something in the course of performing his duties as an elected public official. You know, such as saying something during a public meeting.
According to a News-Post account: “In a Facebook status posted Saturday, Delauter said he was upset with reporter Bethany Rodgers for ‘an unauthorized use of my name and my reference in her article’ published Jan. 3 about his and Councilman Billy Shreve’s concerns over County Council parking spaces.”
Therefore, the councilor says, he’s going to sue if a reporter uses his name without his authorization.
Um, Kirby, that’s how it works.
I’m pretty sure no one in Frederick County elected this guy King of the World, or Commissar of Information, or Guru of Gab.
He’s elected to represent his constituents. The News-Post’s role is to report on what he says in public. The newspaper doesn’t need his permission to use his name.
I don’t know Maryland open meetings law, but it probably looks something similar to what Texas has on its books, or what other states allow to be kept from public scrutiny. The issues usually involving pending litigation, real estate transactions or personnel discussions. That’s it. The rest of it is fair game.
Here’s a bit of advice to the young man: Ask your county’s legal counsel if you have any standing to sue anyone who uses your name without “authorization.” My hunch is that your counsel will laugh in your face.
The paper’s managing editor, Terry Headlee, said it best: “Kirby Delauter can certainly decline to comment on any story. But to threaten to sue a reporter for publishing his name is so ridiculously stupid that I’m speechless. It’s just a pointless, misguided attempt to intimidate and bully the press and shows an astonishing lack of understanding of the role of a public servant.”