MADISON, Wis. — Public records released to One Wisconsin Now by the state office of Sen. Alberta Darling show emails with a lobbyist from the school privatization industry organization, the American Federation for Children, currently spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on her behalf in the recall election. Darling refused to release the records for nearly two months, relenting after One Wisconsin Now filed a lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court Tuesday.
“Alberta Darling did everything to withhold these records and now we see why,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “Her office was signing onto legislation that was a top priority for American Federation for Children, just prior to the organization spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in a desperate attempt to save her in the recall election.”
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.
In the small period requested by One Wisconsin Now, Darling’s office was getting information, most notably about new legislation related to students with disabilities that has been roundly criticized by Disability Rights of Wisconsin. Darling is a cosponsor of the bill, which would likely be stopped if she and her fellow Republicans lose the Senate majority. The emails from American Federation for Children are available here: http://www.onewisconsinnow.org/blog/AFC%20Darling%20Emails.pdf
American Federation for Children has 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.
“It’s bad enough members of the public have to file lawsuits so that Alberta Darling will follow the law,” said Ross. “It’s pretty clear why she was trying to keep these emails hidden.”
One Wisconsin Now continues to evaluate the records received earlier today.