U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Colorado council member sends threatening note to local weekly over reporting

Incident Details


Screenshot of an editorial published by the Ouray County Plaindealer on March 20, 2024, with an accompanying photograph of what it described as an “ominous” note sent by a local council member to the Colorado paper.

March 20, 2024

Council member Peggy Lindsey of Ouray County, Colorado, mailed a threatening note to the Ouray County Plaindealer mid-March 2024, several weeks after the paper published a story detailing her texts about a high-profile sexual assault case.

“What comes around goes around, and you haven’t seen yours yet, but it is coming,” Lindsey wrote in the note from a personalized notepad. “May your days be numbered.”

The story, written by Plaindealer co-Publisher Mike Wiggins, reported on city officials’ responses to the sexual assault, which allegedly occurred inside the home of the Ouray County police chief.

The note is the latest in an ongoing saga following the Plaindealer’s coverage of the case. On Jan. 18, 2024, a Colorado resident stole more than 200 copies of the paper after it published its first article on the allegations.

In an account of the most recent incident, the paper wrote that for his Feb. 21 story, Wiggins filed an open records request for communications by officials, including about the police chief before he was placed on paid administrative leave.

The records Wiggins obtained revealed that Lindsey first sent the chief a text message following the allegations, in which she wrote, “And this 2 shall pass. I’ve been in the hot seat many times for many reasons. You will be ok.”

She then texted a friend questioning the chief’s ability to keep his job, writing “I doubt you’ll ever see him in uniform again. … It’s too small of a town to overcome this, I think.”

Wiggins later wrote in a thread on X, formerly Twitter, that Lindsey had reached out to him before the records request was fulfilled, and asked him not to include the conversation with her friend, saying that it was a private conversation.

“The text concerned public business and therefore was a matter of public record,” Wiggins said in a tweet. “The city wouldn’t have provided it to us otherwise. Lindsey was angry and said she would pull her advertising, which she did.”

Plaindealer co-Publisher Erin McIntyre, in her explanation to readers, wrote, “Our job requires us to act independently. That means when someone threatens us to try to affect the outcome of our reporting and prevent a story from being published, we need to move forward and do the job, because the priority is the public’s right to know. No matter how uncomfortable that may be sometimes, especially in a small community, it’s what we’re charged to do.”

McIntyre and Wiggins were not able to comment at the time of publication.

Lindsey declined to answer questions about the note.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].