Portsmouth city councilman Bill Moody fined for Facebook post: “I will not be muzzled”

Posted at 9:47 PM, Jan 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-13 17:54:30-05

Portsmouth, Va. - Councilman Bill Moody said he was fined $1, 500 at the council's meeting on Tuesday night.

Moody sat down with NewsChannel 3 Wednesday morning and says he was fined for posting on Facebook about a discussion about the city's Confederate monument. The discussion happened during a closed session meeting in December.

"This is a public issue, it's been on TV. That post was in response to questions I’ve been receiving from citizens," Moody said. "At that point I didn't reveal moodypicanything that was top secret. I was asked if this issue is dead and I said, 'apparently not, it looks like it's going to be discussed in the closed meeting'."

Moody told NewsChannel 3 he was appalled when he received the letter advising him of the fine that he says read it was because he was "misbehaving."

"Where is the misbehavior? Me communicating and giving citizens a heads up on what's going to be discussed behind closed doors? I don't call that misbehavior, I call that doing the duty of an elected official, keeping the public informed," Moody said. "I'm appalled. My initial reaction is that it just further indicates to me that this particular majority, this particular city council wants to operate on the sly in a veil of secrecy. They don’t want to keep the public informed."

In September, city council members approved changing city council rules to read, "Any council member or person violating the confidentiality of a closed session or using a recording device during a closed session shall be subject to censure, a fine of not less than $1, 500 and/or reprimand by a majority vote of the City Council." Moody and Vice Mayor Elizabeth Psimas voted against the change.

Moody told NewsChannel 3 he paid the fine in cash but feels like this is a violation of his constitutional rights and wants to look at the legality of the punishment.

A citizen also started a GoFundMe page raising funds in support of Councilman Moody.

NewsChannel 3 has called Mayor Kenny Wright and went by his businesses listed online, but as of right now hasn't received a call back.