MADISON, Wis. — According to the office of Gov. Scott Walker, they have no record of visitors to the taxpayer funded Governor’s mansion. Neither does the Department of Transportation, where the Governor’s security detail is housed, and to date, the Department of Administration which supervises the Capitol Police has not produced the requested records. One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross blasted the Walker administration’s continued stonewalling on a request for the visitors log to the executive mansion from November 5, 2014 through present day. One Wisconsin Now first filed the request with the Governor’s office in April, after contacting the Governor’s mansion staff who indicating the request should be filed with Walker’s gubernatorial office.
“What are Gov. Walker and his administration hiding?” asked Ross. “There is no reason why it should be taking nearly six months, and counting, to fulfill a very simple request for the log of visitors to the Governor’s Mansion where he lives on the dime of state taxpayers.”
Ross noted that media reports on the implosion of Walker’s campaign for the 2016 nomination detail a gathering of associates of Gov. Walker at the mansion, including the head of the right-wing Bradley Foundation and a Walker crony earning nearly $180,000 in taxpayer funded salary as a state employee in a position created by Walker, on the morning prior to the announcement he was ending his campaign. A log of visitors could provide information about additional campaign meetings held by Walker at the mansion during the selected days he was in the state of Wisconsin in the lead up to and during the 71 days he was officially a presidential candidate.
Walker and the state open records law have had a contentious relationship recently and dating back to his time as Milwaukee County Executive. During the closing days of the state budget debate the Walker administration joined Republican leaders in the legislature in a controversial and ultimately unsuccessful effort to gut Wisconsin’s open records law. Walker is also currently being sued for failing to turn over documents as required by the open records law relating to embarrassing budget snafus.
In court filings it was recently revealed that prosecutors considered the Walker administration in Milwaukee County handling of public records potentially violated misconduct laws. Emails from the time, released under a judge’s order, revealed Walker’s then gubernatorial campaign manager exhorting public employees in Milwaukee County to be more political and slow down the fulfillment of requests under the open records law.
Ross concluded, “This isn’t the first but just the latest instance of Gov. Walker violating the spirit and possibly the letter of the law on open records. The people of this state deserve to know who was spending time at the mansion they pay for while Scott Walker was plotting his run for president, and they deserve to know it now.”