Jul 5, 2015

Scott Walker Should Explain His Role in Open Records Scandal

Scott Walker refuses to acknowledge role after Walker and Republicans back down on killing Open Records Law

Updated - Scott Walker's office operating as if proposed open records gutting is law (Marley, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel).
Scott Walker should release all papers, memos, emails and other communications and chronicle all of his and his administration's communications with Republican members of the Joint Finance Committee regarding the Republican effort to gut Wisconsin's Open Records law.

Following an unconvincing prepared statement, Scott Walker is offering silence to the Wisconsin people on his and the Republican effort to gut the Open Records law just before the July 4 holiday weekend (Hall, WisconsinWatch).

Walker's and Republican legislators' proposed evisceration of the Open Records law, [through a motion by the Wisconsin legislature's Joint Finance Committee (JFC)], provoked broad and blistering criticism of Walker and the Republican Party, including a front page editorial by Wisconsin's right-leaning and largest daily on July 4th (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel) (Caffeinated Politics).

The right-leaning Wisconsin State Journal writes of this appalling Republican attempt to codify corruption and secrecy: "Any politician who continues to support similar attacks on Wisconsin’s open records law in the future will never receive the endorsement of the State Journal."

Moreover, this newspaper will use every investigative mechanism and journalistic capability possible, including seeking opinions of the court, to shine an even brighter light on legislative action. Our readers should expect no less of a free press."

Walker backed down, declining to shed light on any authorship and raising more questions than he and the Republicans answered, as legislative Republicans and Walker issued a joint statement (Spicuzza, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel).

Wisconsin's Open Records law helps citizens track legislation and special interests, shining a light on campaign donors who push for public law for their own benefit, against public interest.

So who was the culprit? JFC member, State Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-White People). A PRWatch piece certainly has her as a suspect. Scott Walker signed off the secrecy provisions, as noted by State Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton), as did all 12 Republican members of the JFC. (Punzel, Wisconsin State Journal)
Leah Vukmir

The Open Records law has been a thorn in the side of Scott Walker and Republicans who have taken a sledge hammer to openness in government, impartial watchdogs, academic freedom and non-partisan state services.

"Public access to governmental records is a key component of an open government. Most of our contact with government decision-making comes in the form of governmental records. The public has a right and responsibility to monitor these decisions and hold government accountable for their decisions," notes Midwest Environmental Advocates (p.2).

Public access is even more important when legislative Republicans hold no committee hearings and slip in radical changes to state government with no debate or public notice.

Walker said in a statement that the Joint Finance Committee's effort to enshrine secrecy "was never intended to inhibit transparent government in any way."

Scott Walker isn't fooling anyone, but a town hall-style, question-and-answer session (which would be Walker's first in Wisconsin) is surely called for to explain why this proposed destruction of government transparency was even contemplated, when and by whom.

No comments:

Post a Comment