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Gun Lobbyist Complains of Power Tripping in Colorado

DENVER (CN) - After sending political mail in Colorado, a lobbyist endured an obscenity-laced tirade from a congresswoman and frivolous ethics charges, he claims in Federal Court.

Joseph Neville, a lobbyist with Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, sued the Colorado General Assembly in U.S. District Court in Denver, over his run-in with Rep. Cheri Gerou, a Republican from Evergreen.

"In early 2013 Representative Gerou learned that Rocky Mountain Gun Owners had contacted her constituents regarding certain gun control measures pending before the Colorado General Assembly," the lawsuit says.

The news "upset" Gerou, who then directed one of her aides "tell Neville to stop scaring her constituents and to 'fuck off,'" according to the complaint.

Gerou, a relative moderate who previously supported a civil union bill, was reportedly peeved that Neville had told her constituents that she planned to support controversial gun-control measures.

When the pair met face to face in the lobby of the Colorado House of Representatives, the dispute turned ugly, Neville says.

"Representative Gerou approached Neville in the lobby," the complaint says. "Before Neville said or did anything, Representative Gerou began slapping her finger into the center of Neville's chest and said, 'First off, you can go fuck yourself! You and Dudley can fuck off. RMGO is just a bunch of filthy liars. You have no clue what the fuck you're talking about!'

"Neville then stated, 'Representative Gerou, you're not really helping yourself. In fact, you probably just earned another round of mail.'

"Representative Gerou then signaled the Sergeant-at-Arms John Judson and asked him to remove Neville from the capital (sic) building."

After having Neville kicked out, Rep. Gerou then filed an ethics complaint against him, claiming that Neville "threatened political retribution against [her] during a conversation in the lobby of the House Chambers concerning an upcoming vote in the House," the complaint states.

Neville notes that Colorado General Assembly Joint Rule 36(b)(1) prohibits lobbyists from attempting to influence legislators "by means of deceit or by threat of violence or economic or political reprisal."

A congressional executive committee allegedly declined to pass judgment on Gerou's complaint, but Neville said he remains outraged by the flagrant abuse of his free-speech rights.

"In this case Neville was not only speaking out; he was engaged in core political speech," the complaint states. "He informed Representative Gerou that he intended to send mail to her constituents concerning her. In response Representative Gerou physically assaulted him and had him forcibly ejected from the state capitol. She then filed an ethics complaint against him.

"Instead of ending Representative Gerou's wildly unconstitutional escapade by dismissing her complaint as frivolous, the Executive Committee of the Colorado General Assembly doubled down on her unconstitutional conduct.

"Neville was engaged in constitutionally protected activity; defendant's actions caused Neville to suffer an injury that would chill a person of ordinary firmness from continuing to engage in that activity; and defendant's adverse action was substantially motivated as a response to Neville's exercise of his constitutionally protected rights."

The lobbyist now faces "a reasonable fear" that the assembly will interfere with his work, according to the complaint.

Neville says the phrase "political reprisal" in Rule 36(b)(1) is unconstitutionally vague, and the whole rule is substantially overbroad.

He wants Rule 36(b)(1) declared unconstitutional and enjoined. The lobbyist is represented by Barry Arrington in Centennial.

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