First, State Senator Jon Erpenbach tried to clarify the secrecy arrangement between Michael Best & Friedrich and the Senate Republicans. Then Michael Best & Friedrich passed the buck. Now Senator Erpenbach is not willing to take “don’t bother us” for an answer:
Eric M. McLeod
Michael Best & Friedrich LLP
One South Pinckney St
Madison, WI 53703
Dear Mr. McLeod,
I am in receipt of your letter of February 13. I am disappointed to learn that, rather than respond promptly to my request for the entire file on redistricting; you have referred my request to Senator Fitzgerald.
Upon what legal authority do you rely for the proposition that you need not respond to requests for information and work product from other State Senators? If that’s part of the retainer agreement your firm has with the Wisconsin State Senate, then I’d like to see that retainer agreement, as well.
I understand that in certain instances a legislative body may seek legal advice and counsel through its majority political leadership. But each State Senator possesses equivalent authority under Wisconsin law to represent his or her constituents and conduct the state’s business. In other words, Senator Fitzgerald is first among equals by virtue of his membership in the majority party. That is all.
In this particular situation, as stated in your letter dated February 13, you freely admit that “our client is the Wisconsin State Senate.” The qualifying phrase you added (“acting by its Majority Leader, Scott L. Fitzgerald”) is not relevant to my request for the redistricting file. Senator Fitzgerald is the Majority Leader, but he is not the leader of the Senate Democrats, who happen to be 16 members of the 33-member body you represent.
You and your firm represent the entire Wisconsin State Senate, of which I am an equal member. We (the entire Wisconsin State Senate) are being sued. Your firm is seeking to suppress, I believe the number to be 84, email correspondences between the majority party and your firm. In that motion, you are claiming attorney client privilege. Really? I’m a client and have yet to see one single thing from you or your firm, let alone any of the documents you are seeking to suppress.
As a client I want to know why you are claiming attorney-client privilege when 16 of your clients have no idea what’s in those emails.
I believe you are obligated to answer these and any other questions I might ask you as your client. Therefore, I am writing for the last time to request that you immediately provide me with the entire redistricting file, including all files, memos, talking points and any and all communications regarding your work on redistricting as an attorney retained by the Wisconsin State Senate to represent, by definition, ALL members of the Wisconsin State Senate.
27th Senate District