Politico by Marc Caputo
May 18, 2018
MIAMI — Philip Levine blocked a Twitter critic back when he was mayor of Miami Beach and got sued. Now it’s starting to haunt the Democrat’s bid for governor of Florida and threatens to paint him as a thin-skinned bully.
First, Twitter accused the city of threatening its officials as part of a legal strategy to keep Levine from being deposed during his campaign for governor. Then, Levine’s top adviser had to take the stand on his behalf this month and admit the former mayor blocked Twitter comments he didn’t like, setting the stage for a potentially precedent-setting case concerning social media and government censorship.
In the coming weeks, the likely Democratic front-runner faces the prospect of a deposition in the case, which also raises broader questions about his temperament and his mayoral legacy.
“He’s totally unfit for office. Here he is wasting tax money to hide his mistakes rather than fix problems,” said Grant Stern, a Democratic activist, blogger and host of the “Only in Miami” show on WZAB-AM. “Levine uses the Donald Trump method: lie, lie, lie, lie, lie, lie and then attack everybody who calls you out and try to muddy the waters.”
Levine’s political adviser, Christian Ulvert, said in a written statement that Stern was no longer blocked and that the former mayor’s Twitter and Facebook pages weren’t public records — a position many First Amendment lawyers dispute.
“Mr. Stern has mistaken the City’s social media accounts with those of Philip Levine’s personal, individually managed accounts and has incorrectly filed a public records requests,” Ulvert said, adding the mayor’s temporary blocking policy was due to “today’s continuous push of false, foul or derogatory information through social media.”