Empower Wisconsin | Nov. 18, 2019
MADISON — It wasn’t a good week for the First Amendment in Wisconsin.
It was a great week for government tools. So good, we’ve got a Tool of the Week tie.
The Lafayette County Land Conservation Committee proposed a resolution that threatened to prosecute journalists that didn’t report verbatim a county press release on water quality test results.
Lafayette County’s Pravda provision and another that would have disciplined elected official for talking publicly about the results were scrapped after much public criticism.
County Board Chairman Jack Sauer reportedly threatened to toss out of the meeting public members critical of the proposal.
Freedom of the press took another beating in the governor’s office. Milwaukee-based Fox6 News reported that Gov. Tony Evers’ legal council refused to turn over even one day of emails in an open records request. Maybe more disturbing was the revelation that the governor defines it an “extraordinary” day if he sends out one email.
Evers told the Fox6 reporter that he agreed the public has a right to see his emails, but he didn’t mean it. His attorney continued to deny the request. The governor’s spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff told the reporter the line of questioning was in “poor form,” and that there were no plans to grant the request for Evers’ emails.
That’s a tool-worthy statement on it’s own. Seeking information the public has a right to know is in “poor form.” Where does Baldauff get off?
She’s gotten off Scott-free from a mainstream media that hasn’t seemed overly interested in calling out the Evers administration for myriad open government violations.
When government officials attempt to close the doors of open government, they are richly deserving of scorn.
Lafayette County officials and the governor’s comms team are equally deserving of a dubious award: Empower Wisconsin’s Tool of the Week.