Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has taken the unprecedented step of asserting that a state legislator cannot be held accountable for refusing to disclose public records in response to a lawful open records request by the Center for Media and Democracy.
Van Hollen's department asserted in court filings that Wisconsin Senator -- and American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) national treasurer -- Leah Vukmir cannot be served with a court order demanding that she comply with her legal responsibilities under the open records law while the state legislature is in session.
Since Wisconsin's biennial session ends -- and a new one begins -- on the very same day, the Attorney General's position would preclude holding legislators accountable under the law on a wide range of civil issues indefinitely.
Wisconsin media has recognized the danger of this position and has strongly defended the state's open records law and its long history of open, accountable governance.
Wisconsin State Journal, Process server says senator's aide chased and pushed him down, September 12, 2013.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sen. Leah Vukmir tries to sidestep open records suit, September 12, 2013.
Minneapolis Star Tribune, Lawsuit server says Wis. leg aide pushed him, September 12, 2013.
Wisconsin Public Radio, State DOJ: Senator Vukmir Immune From Civil Lawsuits, September 13, 2013.
Twin Cities, Wisconsin: State senator tries to block open records lawsuit, September 13, 2013.
The Cap Times, Leah Vukmir invokes defense that would gut open records law for Wisconsin lawmakers, September 13, 2013.
Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, Statement on claims of legislative immunity to state Open Records Law, September 13, 2013.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Democratic state senator says Van Hollen did reversal on open records, September 14, 2013.
Wisconsin State Journal, Open government advocates fume as GOP senator claims immunity from records law, September 14, 2013.
The Cap Times EDITORIAL, J.B. Van Hollen attacks public's right to know, September 15, 2013.
LaCrosse Tribune EDITORIAL, Openness applies to lawmakers, too, September 15, 2013.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel EDITORIAL, Legislators are not above state's open records law, September 16, 2013.
Chippewa Herald EDITORIAL, Openness applies to lawmakers, too, September 16, 2013.
Beloit Daily News EDITORIAL, Disregard for right to know, September 16, 2013.
Wisconsin Public Radio, State Capitol Report, September 16, 2013.
Wisconsin Public Radio News, Attorney General Defends Counsel He Gave Senator On Open Records Lawsuit, September 17, 2013.
The Progressive, ALEC's National Treasurer Resorted to Thuggery, September 17, 2013.
Cap Times EDITORIAL, Don't take ax to public's right to know, September 18, 2013.
The Nation, Blocking the Public's Right to Know About ALEC, September 18, 2013.
Milton Courier EDITORIAL, A radical idea? Lawmakers must follow the law, September 18, 2013.
Janesville Gazette, Vukmir, Van Hollen seek to subvert open government in Wisconsin, September 18, 2013.
Appleton Post-Crescent EDITORIAL: Senator threatens state's open government, September 18, 2013.
Isthmus, J.B. Van Hollen comes under fire for controversial open records defense, September 18, 2013.
Green Bay Press Gazette EDITORIAL, Elected officials should err on side of transparency, September 19, 2013.
Wisconsin State Journal EDITORIAL, Keep sun shining on lawmakers, September 19, 2013.
Badger Herald, EDITORIAL In outburst of partisan politics, Van Hollen attacks government transparency, September 19, 2013.
Star Telegram, State lawmaker must release documents, October 1, 2013.
HNG News, EDITORIAL Your Right to Know: Vukmir wrong on records law, October 1, 2013.
La Cross Tribune, Group urges judge to reject records argument, October 2, 2013.
Beloit Daily News, EDITORIAL Your Right to Know: Vukmir wrong on records law , October 5, 2013.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel EDITORIAL, Vukmir wrong on open records law, October 6, 2013.
Wisconsin Gazette, Former Trek executive Mary Burke brings strong business record to Democratic gubernatorial race, October 7, 2013.