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N4T Investigators: War of Words Update

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TUCSON (KVOA) - In July, the leader of Tucson Back the Blue Line (TBBL), Timothy Cesolini, applied for a permit to paint a blue line on a city street. 

The city granted it but the same day it took it back

Now, the News 4 Tucson Investigators have new developments in the war of words. 

In July, the mayor called out the permit request in a Twitter post as listed below:

Her post is at the center of a defamation lawsuit that Cesolini and the nonprofit filed against the city and other officials. 

However, court documents show the city said it is not liable for the mayor's post which said, "requests from white supremacists have no place on our city streets."  

It was posted on her Twitter account where she describes herself as the Mayor of Tucson and the statement is on city letterhead. 

 "At that time I was nobody, I'm still nobody. I'm just a person that loves police officers," Cesolini told the News 4 Tucson Investigators.

He and TBBL have maintained that they have no ties to white supremacy.

"She needs to recognize what she did and that's really it. That's all I want. What her saying that did to myself, my family, my business," Cesolini said. "Everybody looks at me in a different way." 

 For months, the city has told the News 4 Tucson Investigators that it can't comment, but in court documents, it admitted that the mayor's social media use is "both personal and political." 

To view the report regarding Romero's response to the complaint, click here.

In court documents, Cesolini claimed that the mayor "explained the rationale behind her decisions" to revoke the permit "on social media" in her Twitter post claiming that he was "an individual with known ties to white supremacist ideology".

To view the full complaint, click here.

In court documents, the city admitted that Mayor "Romero issued public statements and/or comments in opposition to the issuance of the permit." But despite her tweet, it was denied that's why the permit was revoked, as the News 4 Tucson Investigators first reported in August

In court documents, Cesolini claimed that the city "is responsible for the statements, actions, policies, practices, customs, and procedures of" its employees, but the city denies that it "is liable." 

"If she was in the capacity of a person, which she is not, she is in the capacity of the Mayor of Tucson, she wouldn't have done it on her letterhead. This city needs to come together and grow as one and stop the agendas," Cesolini said.

The mayor's response? 

Her spokesperson told the News 4 Tucson Investigators, "the mayor does not comment on ongoing litigation." 

The city wouldn't comment because of the ongoing lawsuit. 

So, we asked for its employee social media policies. 

In return, we got these documents. They explain how the city may use social media but we pointed out that we couldn't find guidelines for employees. 

To view those city documents, click here.

That's when a spokesperson said the city "does not have specific guidelines about an employee's use of his or her own personal social media." 

So, is the city liable for its employees' social media accounts? 

That's likely up to a judge or jury to decide. They could settle out-of-court. 

Otherwise, the case could be ready for trial as early as next year.  

While the city's been denying liability for the mayor's statements, a city attorney has been representing her and your taxpayer money has been paying for it.  

If you have an issue you'd like for N4T Investigators to investigate, email investigators@kvoa.com or call our tip line at 520-955-4444.  

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Alexis Berdine

Alexis Berdine is an Investigative Multi-Media Journalist at KVOA.

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