Submitted by Brendan Fischer on
On October 1, 2012, the Center for Media and Democracy and Common Cause filed suit against five Wisconsin legislators after they repeatedly failed to comply with their legal obligation to provide public records pertaining to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
Aides to legislators named as Defendants in the lawsuit had these responses when asked directly to confirm -- with a simple yes or no -- that they searched personal email accounts for records responsive to open records requests:
Rep. August's staffer replied, "Our office has no records." When asked again to confirm a search of personal email accounts he repeated, "Our office has no records." When asked a third time, he said, "Please consider this request completed."Complete correspondence can be read here.
Rep Thiesfeldt's staffer evaded the question by conducting a search of a staffer's official email account. When asked again to confirm a search of the legislators' personal emails he stated that Rep. Thiesfeldt "has no records." When asked again to confirm that he searched personal email accounts, he replied, "I have complied with your request." Complete correspondence can be read here.
Rep. Knodl's staffer stated, "The search included all records pertaining to your request," and, when asked again to directly confirm a search of personal email accounts, stated, "The search included all records pertaining to your request." He failed to respond to additional requests for confirmation. Complete correspondence can be read here.
Rep. Larson's staffer stated, "We have thoroughly searched our records and have complied with the open records request." When asked again to directly confirm, yes or no, whether a personal email search was conducted, he again stated, "We have complied with the open records request," and did not reply to further requests for confirmation.Complete correspondence can be read here.
Rep. Strachota's staffer claimed that the office had no ALEC-related correspondence because, "The representative does this on her own personal time." Told that official emails sent on personal email accounts are subject to the Open Records Law, she asserted that, "This office has nothing pertaining to ALEC from the dates in which you have requested," after which point she stopped replying.Complete correspondence can be read here.
Each set of correspondence also included in the exhibits filed with the complaint.