The City of Escondido, California, had to pay $20,000 to settle a First Amendment claim.
The Center for Social Advocacy (CSA) used to have a contract with the city worth about $26,000 a year to provide fair housing services to Escondido. The organization published an opinion piece in its newsletter criticizing the city, so the city cancelled the contract.
The op-ed piece, written by Bill Flores, the then director of administration for El Grupo, a consortium of Latino rights groups, begins: “The City of Escondido has earned the dubious reputation of being one of the most bigoted and racist cities in the United States.” (source)
David Blair-Loy, legal director of the ACLU’s San Diego chapter, reported that city officials admitted that the cancellation was due to the editorial, not dissatisfaction with services the CSA provided. (source)
The ACLU took up the case, and the city settled before suit was filed.
“The government can’t punish contractors because it doesn’t like what they say,” said Blair-Loy. “The city had no complaints about CSA’s services. It just didn’t like seeing a critical opinion piece in the agency’s newsletter.” (source)