wisconsin capitol
Press Release
October 27, 2011

One Wisconsin Now Prevails in Open Records Lawsuit Against Alberta Darling

Taxpayers Forced to Pay for Settlement After Darling Refused to Release Records

MADISON, Wis. — One Wisconsin Now has settled a lawsuit filed in August in Dane County Circuit Court against state Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) over her office’s refusal to release correspondence sought under the state’s open records law detailing her office’s communications with private school advocates.

The settlement requires payment of One Wisconsin Now’s legal fees, which will unfortunately be borne by taxpayers due to Darling’s disregard for the open records law. One Wisconsin Now was represented in the case by Christa Westerberg of McGillvray Westerberg & Bender LLC. The Attorney General’s office represented Darling in the suit.

“Sen. Darling refused to comply with the state’s open records law and now taxpayers have to foot the bill for her arrogance,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “Sen. Darling was either trying to hide something or too busy campaigning to follow the law and we believe she should personally pay the legal bill and not the taxpayers.”

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.

After hearing nothing from Darling’s office, One Wisconsin Now sent a subsequent follow-up request July 13, 2011, which was 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.

After the filing of the lawsuit, Darling’s office released the records that showing email communication from a lobbyist from the school privatization industry organization, the American Federation for Children.

During the state senate recall elections this summer, American Federation for Children spent over $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.

“Let this be a lesson: when One Wisconsin Now files an open records request, we mean business,” said Ross. “Lawmakers like Alberta Darling do not get to pick and choose which laws they get to follow.”

In January One Wisconsin Now prevailed in an open records action against Republican Juneau County District Attorney Scott Southworth. Southworth agreed to pay One Wisconsin Now $8,950 in legal fees, expenses and statutory damages after it was revealed he failed to fully-respond to an open records request related to communications about the state’s “Healthy Youth Act” and his correspondence with numerous extremist right wing organizations and leaders. Taxpayers were also forced to foot the bill for Southworth’s actions.

A copy of the stipulation is available at: http://www.onewisconsinnow.org/images/20111028102830.pdf

# # #

One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.

why courts matter usa map
Press Release

Judicial Advocates Raise Red Flags on Eve of U.S. Senate Hearing

State and national advocates raised red flags about both the views of Michael Brennan and the process by which he was nominated for a lifetime appointment.
One Wisconsin Logo
One Wisconsin Now
white silhouette of scales of justice overlaying supreme court bench
Press Release

Nomination of Michael Brennan Scheduled for Hearing Before Senate Committee

The wrong nominee, selected in the wrong way, being given a hearing in the wrong way. That’s how One Wisconsin Institute summed it up.
One Wisconsin Logo
One Wisconsin Institute
scot ross on joy reid 2018-01-21
In the News

Wisconsin polls: Democrat wins special election

A Wisconsin special election saw a Democrat win a district that had been Republican for almost 20 years. Joy Reid and her panel discuss.
dear democratic party abortion graphic
Press Release

Standing Up for Comprehensive Reproductive Health Care for Women

One Wisconsin Now has joined with fellow Progress Now affiliates in calling on the DNC to continue to stand strong on protection of abortion rights.
One Wisconsin Logo
One Wisconsin Now
michael screnock and scott walker smiling together
Press Release

Team Screnock = Team Walker

Michael Screnock worked to defend Gov. Scott Walker’s agenda in court, now Team Walker campaigns for Screnock’s Supreme Court race.
One Wisconsin Logo
One Wisconsin Now
wisconsin state capitol building at night
Press Release

Scott Walker to Call Special Session on Attacks on Poor, People of Color

Wisconsin Republicans led by Gov. Scott Walker announced a special session of the legislature devoted to renewed attacks on families struggling to get by.
One Wisconsin Logo
One Wisconsin Now
UNSPUN Screenshot
In the News

UNSPUN: Democratic Win in State Senate Special Election

Analysts discuss the Democratic win in a state Senate special election and fundraising numbers for Wisconsin gubernatorial candidates.
american flag
In the News

Wisconsin progressives need to build a bigger boat

The divisive, distracted, disappointing quarter century of Scott Walker as a Wisconsin elected official could mean progressives will need a bigger boat in 2018.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel