How Far Does Walker Open Records Slowdown Go?
One Wisconsin Now Requests for Information From Walker's State and County Offices Were Stalled for Months
MADISON, Wis. — A report that Gov. Walker’s gubernatorial campaign manager directed his Milwaukee County staff to “drag out” fulfilling requests under the state open records law for information related to a tragic incident involving the death of a young boy outside a county owned facility may not be an isolated incident, according to One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. Numerous open record requests made by One Wisconsin Now experienced the same fate, with delays of up to six months and the charging exorbitant fees for simple information.
“It is clear that top aides, and perhaps even Governor Walker himself, put political considerations before serving the public, adopting a calculated strategy to delay or prevent the release of information they felt could be politically damaging,” said Ross.
According to Ross, One Wisconsin Now’s experience with Walker’s Administration in his time as Milwaukee County Executive and now as Governor includes:
- Waiting nearly four months and being charged over $3,000 for copies of Walker’s schedule as County Executive;
- Never receiving records for a request filed in May 2010 related to legal bills incurred on connection with problems under Walker’s administration at the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex;
- Waiting nearly six months for records of Walker’s use of state planes as Governor; and
- Waiting over three months for records regarding private lawyers hired by Governor Walker’s administration using public tax dollars.
E-mail excerpts released by the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office in connection with the sentencing of Walker’s Milwaukee County Deputy Chief of Staff on a felony misconduct in office charge showed a small cadre of senior campaign and county aides, including Walker himself, regularly conferred. In these conversations, Walker’s campaign manager complained about a member of the taxpayer funded county staff lacking concern for political appearances in doing his job and advocated for the elimination of any county records related to mismanagement of the county mental health complex that could damage Walker.
Ross concluded, “From Milwaukee County to Madison Governor Walker and his top aides put winning elections before everything else, right down to following open government laws. With Gov. Walker, concern for the future is what’s best for his political career and openness in government is about his big donors’ checkbooks.”