Longtime Eunice City Council member sues city

Politics - Government

EUNICE, N.M. (KRQE) – A longtime councilman in southeastern New Mexico is suing the city he serves, claiming they’re violating his freedom of speech. Terry Bettis has been a city councilor in Eunice for 16 years. Last year, Bettis needed back surgery, and missed 13 of 22 council meetings; he took to Facebook to give his opinion.

The lawsuit, filed in Federal Court on September 10, states the mayor and other councilors thought those posts were inappropriate, so they passed an ordinance making it illegal to criticize anyone who worked for the city or elected to office.

When Bettis posted another comment critical of the city government, the mayor and council publicly admonished him for breaking the city ordinance.

Bettis and his lawyers claim that the ordinance and actions taken by the city of Eunice and the councilors were unconstitutional and violated his freedom of speech. It also states the ordinance was directly targeted at Bettis. KRQE News 13 did reach out to the City of Eunice and their lawyers for comment but have did not hear back.

The lawsuit wants a federal judge to strike down the ordinance and award money to Bettis for pain and suffering.

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