Democrats say they were blocked from Otter’s Twitter account

Idaho Democratic Rep. Holli Woodings of Boise and former Democratic House candidate Sharon Fisher of Kuna say they discovered over the weekend that Republican Gov. Butch Otter’s official Twitter account blocked them from access.

Woodings said Monday that she was again able to access Otter’s account, but Fisher said late Monday that she remained barred by Otter’s account, @ButchOtter, where Otter has posted about 750 tweets.

Both provided screen shots (below) showing they had been blocked, but Otter spokesman Jon Hanian said Otter had nothing to do with any access problems.

“I can tell you no one from our office has ever blocked anyone interested in following the Governor,” Hanian said Monday.

Added Hanian: “If someone is having a problem accessing they can contact Zach Forster in our office who can step them through how to access and follow. It is pretty straightforward and simple. He can be reached at 334-2100.”

Hanian’s suggestion that tweeters with problems speak with Forster brought a rebuke from Fisher, who has a degree in computer science, has written books about the Internet and works as a social media content strategist.

“I don’t know if they did it on purpose or not,” Fisher said late Monday. “If they say they didn’t, OK. It’s certainly possible that it’s some sort of Twitter glitch. But don’t tell me that I’m an idiot.”

Fisher received 32 percent of the vote last year in a race for an open House seat in District 22 against freshman GOP Rep. Jason Monks. She has tweeted more than 33,000 times from her account @slfisher.

Woodings, who has tweeted over 9,000 times from @holliwoodings, used softer language.

Woodings said she was blocked on Sunday but was able to access the account Monday. “It’s possible that I’ve been blocked for some time and perhaps the Governor’s office didn’t even know about it. This screen shot was taken Sunday, August 18, 2013. Today I was not blocked and was able to follow the Governor’s account from the same device on which I had previously had the blocked result.”

Woodings tweeted a request for help and late Monday said, “I did have a message from the Governor’s office today and will return the call tomorrow, so at the very least they followed up with me.”

The Sunday screenshot from Woodings:


And Fisher’s screenshot from about 11 p.m. Monday:


Democratic activist Emily Walton alerted the Statesman to the Twitter-spat in an email Sunday. In March, Walton urged teacher-in-space Barbara Morgan to run for Superintendent of Public Instruction, a job in which Morgan has shown no public interest.

Walton also leads the Idaho Civic Engagement Project but said her opinion about how Otter runs his Twitter account is her own.

“I get a lot of my news and information on Twitter and I think it’s also a great way to engage in civil (or uncivil) dialogue,” said Walton, who has about 2,300 tweets @Walton_Emily. “If Idaho taxpayers are paying the Governor’s staff to run a Twitter account we should all get access to it unless we break a rule — like being threatening, or crude.”

UPDATE: 9 a.m.

After I posted this early this morning, Hanian emphasized the absence of any effort to block any user and said an information technology specialist is investigating the allegations.

Said Hanian:

“We have  not blocked anyone from accessing the Governor’s Twitter account. We also have not requested that anyone be blocked.

“I have an IT specialist looking into these allegations. If and when I find out more information I am happy to share it with you. By the way, the Governor’s Chief of Staff, David Hensley did call Rep. Woodings yesterday to let her know that our office did not block her or anyone else from gaining access to the Governor’s twitter account.

“In the meantime, if anyone has a problem accessing the Governor’s Twitter page, they can contact our office and we have offered to help them gain access.”





Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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