Portsmouth councilman hit with fine for Facebook post

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – A Portsmouth city councilman announced that he was slapped with a hefty fine for breaking a new city rule.

Councilman Bill Moody said he was fined $1,500 for violating a city amendment that prohibits city officials from publicly speaking about information that pertains to closed city meetings.

“You’re not gonna muzzle me, I was elected by the people and I will keep the people informed,” Moody said during Tuesday’s council meeting.

Moody waved a wad of cash before the public – first to state that he will pay the fine. He shook a wad of cash a second time, stating that he’s prepared to pay for future violations.

“Transparency in Portsmouth’s government is worth fighting for,” he said, calling the fine an attack on transparency.

Several people applauded. Some even stood and cheered.

Moody told 10 On Your Side that the violation relates to a Facebook status he posted. The post reportedly mentioned that officials were going to discuss the city’s Confederate monument.

“Freedom of speech does apply to elected officials as well,” he said.

Council members did not immediately comment, but Portsmouth Vice Mayor Elizabeth Psimas later stated to the public that the super majority voted – 5 out of 7 – to fine Councilman Moody. She voted against the fine.

Moody has the option to appeal to council. He said he won’t appeal to his peers, but he has reached out to the ACLU and is consulting with a lawyer.

Portsmouth Mayor Kenneth Wright had no comment and ignored 10 On Your Side’s questions as he left the council meeting. Councilman Danny Meeks had no comment.

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