Exactly one month ago, I wrote about a lawsuit filed against five Republican lawmakers here in Wisconsinby the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) and Common Cause (CC). In their lawsuit, the Center for Media and Democracy and Common Cause alleged the five Republican lawmakers in question failed to provide ALEC-related records sought under Wisconsin’s Open Records Law. At the time, the five Republicans in question – State Representatives Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac), Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva), Dan Knodl (R-Germantown), Tom Larson (R-Colfax), and Pat Strachota (R-West Bend) – denied the existance of any ALEC-related records held on their private email accounts in an attempt to avoid open records laws.

On Tuesday the Center for Media and Democracy and Common Cause announced a settlement to their lawsuit against the five Republican lawmakers, with those lawmakers agreeing to turn over email records relating to ALEC that they held on their private email accounts in an attempt to skirt open records laws.

“As part of the settlement agreement, the five legislators admitted that ALEC-related records were held on their personal email accounts and are covered by the Open Records Law,” said Center for Media and Democracy Staff Counsel Brendan Fischer, who filed the complaint. “They are finally complying with the law and agreeing to release those records to the public.”

The five legislators — Representatives Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac), Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva), Dan Knodl (R-Germantown), Tom Larson (R-Colfax), and Pat Strachota (R-West Bend) — also acknowledged they have a duty as elected officials to fully comply with records requests from the public. They will pay $2,520 in court costs and attorney’s fees involved in bringing the lawsuit.

The settlement of the suit brought against the five Republican lawmakers is certainly a victory for anyone who values open, transparent government, but I hope it’s just the first of many attempts to open our halls of government and shine some much-needed light on what Republican lawmakers have been up to in Madison and why they’ve been trying so hard to hide what they’re up to.

6 Responses to Common Cause, Center for Media and Democracy reach settlement with 5 GOP lawmakers who skirted open records laws

  1. jimspice says:

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it meant the end of their political careers? Hey, we can dream, can’t we?

    • It would be wonderful, but you and I both know they’ll be rewarded for doing what the did, instead of being chastised or voted out of office.

      Whether Democrat or a Republican, liberal or conservative, or something else entirely, we all should want honest and open government.

      • jimspice says:

        I would vote for an honest moderate (R) before I would vote for a dirty (D) regardless of how closely he/she would vote my policy preferences. If I were being perfectly honest though, I’d have to admit I would struggle with the decision if the (R) were a T-partier, and would likely grudgingly pull the lever for the dirty (D). You can be assured that I’d actively work to make sure there was a choice of an honest (D) in the next primary.

  2. tellfred says:

    In my speeches and writings I repeatedly stress openness, transparency, and accountabilty especially from our pols.

    Whether a rank-and-file union member or citizen, we must ALL demand, ALL the time, OTA.

    Thanks for your work.

  3. Dan says:

    My question regarding this subject is: Given that these legislators have demonstrated their willingness to skirt the law with respect to email and open records; why didn’t the settlement/lawsuit ask for ALL communications subject to Open Records Laws residing in their personal email accounts; rather than just the ALEC ones?

    This is probably the reason they agreed to the settlement; end it before someone thinks to ask about the OTHER communications they have had on their personal email that should be disclosed.

  4. Gary Berg-Cross says:

    Free talk Sat, 03-Nov-12 Wheaton Library Maryland (2-4) Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese, co-directors of ItsOurEconomy.us “Shifting Economic and Political Power to the People”

    We live in a time of tremendous wealth disparity. Bill Moyers calls our economy a Plutonomy. Wealth inequality creates an imbalance of political power such that public policy is designed to funnel wealth to a few while the many struggle to afford an education, a home and health care. We will describe strategy and tactics to shift economic power, and thereby political power, to the people. The movement to democratize the economy is happening around the world and is growing in the U.S.
    See http://secularhumanist.blogspot.com/2012/10/discussing-agenda-for-democratized.html for details.

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