MADISON, Wis. — On April 2 One Wisconsin Now filed an open records request with the state Department of Justice related to a despicable campaign television ad from the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce Issues Mobilization Council (WMC-IMC) in the state Supreme Court race. In their desperation to try to win an election the WMC-IMC spent $1 million on an ad in which they disclosed identifying information about child victims of a sex assault and they refused to take it off the air even after the family of the victims publicly pleaded with them to do so. Today, One Wisconsin Now Research Director Joanna Beilman-Dulin blasted DOJ’s response as, “wholly inadequate.”
“It was disappointing that the WMC-IMC ignored the pleas of the families of the victims to take down their ad,” commented Beilman-Dulin. “And it is troubling that it appears the state’s top cop Brad Schimel is choosing to protect WMC-IMC over crime victims by keeping some records secret and going so far as to not even look for records from employees in his department whose job it is to help crime victims.”
On April 2 One Wisconsin Now requested records of communication from DOJ staff containing a handful of keywords related to the ad. After limiting their review to just seven employees and invoking attorney-client privilege and attorney work product exemptions, the DOJ provided a copy of an email exchange and a screen shot of a phone record from Attorney General Brad Schimel’s press secretary.
Beilman-Dulin fired back in a letter today, writing:
What WMC did in disclosing identifying information about child victims of a sex crime was despicable. I would have hoped that the DOJ leadership actions reflected a sincere concern for the parties who were re-victimized by a special interest group’s crass attempt to win an election. But with this wholly inadequate reply to my simple open records request, it appears the leadership of the Department of Justice is more concerned with protecting its own political self interests and those of the state’s big corporate lobby.
One Wisconsin Now has also renewed their original request for a full accounting of responsive DOJ records.