Samantha Vanterpool, a former assistant attorney general, filed a suit with the U.S. District Court on Friday against Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, claiming that she was wrongfully fired for being suspected of posting comments about Cuccinelli on a Washington Post blog. The lawsuit names Cuccinelli and his former chief deputy Charles E. James, Jr. as defendants.
Vanterpool claimed that she was fired from her position about a month after comments were discovered online which characterized Cuccinelli as an “egomaniac.” The comments, published under the handle “bzbzsammy,” also said that Cuccinelli “is NEVER in the AG’s office and solely uses his position for self promotion.” Vanterpool said that an employee in her office connected the handle to Vanterpool and brought the comments to the Attorney General’s attention, who then fired her on the basis of violation of the office’s standards of conduct policy and a media policy that prohibits office employees from speaking on-record with the press without prior approval.
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In the suit, Vanterpool argues that even if she did post the comment—which she does not acknowledge doing—it would not have been a violation of the office’s media policy, as she was not actually speaking with a reporter. As such, her suit argues, her termination violates First Amendment rights.
In a statement, Cuccinelli spokesman Brian Gottstein maintained that “the attorney general and his former chief deputy are passionate supporters of the First Amendment, and any suggestion by a disgruntled former employee to the contrary is patently absurd.”