IABJ President Ty Rushing was blocked from a rally in Harlan, along with Kyle Kaminski, despite having press badges indicating they were part of the media. The group issued a statement saying they were “incensed” by the treatment.
“Despite completing the credential process with the DeSantis campaign for this event, Mr. Rushing was stonewalled from the facility by law enforcement without a proper explanation for why he could not enter the building,” the IABJ asserted.
The exclusion strikes the group as a violation of the First Amendment and the principles of freedom of the press and speech itself.
“Voters in Iowa and across the country deserve to hear what potential leaders have to say about us before we cast our votes,” the organization continued. “It is our duty as reporters to be the eyes and ears in spaces where those views are discussed. The First Amendment exists to give Americans the freedom to hear the unfiltered truth, and Mr. Rushing’s treatment in Harlan is the opposite of freedom and liberty.”
Rushing had covered a number of DeSantis events in person, and written about a few, including the Governor’s first stump speech in the state, the “slavery scandal” and his position on a six-week abortion ban.
He told Florida Politics he had “absolutely no explanation” why he was blocked from Harlan Friday, despite being from a “left-leaning outlet.” He has covered DeSantis since the incident, including the weekend’s events at the Iowa State Fair.
“Mr. Rushing’s treatment struck a nerve with journalists because we know freedom is fragile. We all suffer when public figures are not held accountable for their words and actions, especially when public law enforcement is seemingly used for private intimidation. We stand behind Mr. Rushing and all journalists who will never back down in the pursuit of truth and transparency,” the IABJ added, using phrasing that seems deliberate in light of the PAC’s name.
The super PAC claims Rushing and Kaminski didn’t register as media.
“These individuals registered as attendees and not press and did not identify themselves as such. Press are encouraged and welcome to attend all open press Never Back Down events but must follow appropriate protocols to ensure equal access to all reporters and safety for the principals,” the PAC said Friday afternoon.
Rushing was wearing a press badge at the time, seemingly invalidating the claim.