Nexstar’s WITI in Milwaukee is suing the Wisconsin Governor for withholding copies of his emails.
The lawsuit prompted Governor Tony Evers to partially just minutes after the papers were filed in court.
The lawsuit was the result of WITI repeatedly filing requests dating back to September for a month’s worth of emails, a week’s worth of emails and finally a day’s worth of emails to and from Evers and his chief of staff, Maggie Gau.
What the governor’s office quickly coughed up was a single day’s worth of emails from June 14 only from Evers
What is the station looking for?
It’s the group’s second suit since it was founded earlier this fall by Tom Kamenick, a former attorney at the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty.
Kamenick said while some records were eventually released, the group is continuing the suit to ask the court to order Evers to release both a week’s worth and four week’s worth of his correspondence.
“Oversight of the Governor’s actions is of paramount importance to the people of the State of Wisconsin and the Governor should be expected to handle voluminous record requests,” the suit argues.
It seems that back in 2015 Republicans who controlled the Legislature and Gov. Scott Walker (Evers predecessor) attempted to remove key portions of the public records law, keeping many more records — including emails — from public view.
Evers, a Democrat, is using that ill-conceived law to keep his emails under wraps.
His office has argued various media requests (including WITI’s) are too broad and “lack a subject matter,” and that the state’s open records law doesn’t compel emailed communications to be released unless asks include a specific topic — an interpretation open government groups dispute.
Before the suit’s filing on Tuesday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in a report earlier this month announced Evers’ staff had released correspondences to the publication after it had asked for a single day’s worth of Evers’ emails.
The report notes Evers’ legal counsel said that they were being released because the office was making an exception.
Not because of any affinity for honest transparency.