MADISON, Wis. — One Wisconsin Now filed a lawsuit today against Sen. Alberta Darling for refusing to release public records related to communications she and her office may have had with various pro-school privatization organizations and individuals in the weeks preceding her efforts to increase the funding for private schools and expand their scope. One Wisconsin Now filed its lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court.
“Wisconsin deserves to know what Sen. Alberta Darling is hiding about her deals with the private school industry,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now. “She has repeatedly ignored a reasonable open records request and we have been forced to file this lawsuit because Sen. Alberta Darling thinks the laws of Wisconsin do not apply to her.”
One Wisconsin Now filed its open records request June 8, 2011, requesting letters, emails, correspondence and appointment calendars related to on-going and expanded school privatization efforts in Wisconsin. One Wisconsin Now requested specific correspondence from a number of individuals and organizations, most notably former Republican Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen and his organization, the American Federation for Children.
To date, American Federation for Children has spent $500,000 in television ads, including ones to support Darling in her recall election. In addition to the $800 million in cuts to public education, Darling, as the chair of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee, approved $35 million in new private school funding and helped expand the program.
After hearing nothing from Darling’s office, One Wisconsin Now sent a subsequent follow-up request July 13, 2011, which to date has also been ignored in violation of the Open Records Law and Wis. Stat. 19.35(4)(a) by failing to, “as soon as practicable and without delay” either fulfill the request or provide reason why it is being denied. The Wisconsin Department of Justice and the Office of the Attorney General have pointedly advised a response within 10 business days.
One Wisconsin Now made a similar request to four additional legislators, who all met the request in a timely fashion, as prescribed by law.
“If Sen. Alberta Darling has nothing to hide, why is she hiding?” asked Ross. “Sen. Alberta Darling now is putting taxpayers on the hook for blatantly violating the state open records law.”
A copy of One Wisconsin Now’s complaint, filed Tuesday in Dane County Circuit Court, is available at http://onewi.org/1P8J8ln.
A copy of the summons is available at http://onewi.org/1TQuyhP.