Evers Relents and Releases Public Record

Why are Evers’ instincts always so wrong?

Gov. Tony Evers on Monday released a handwritten note given to him by former Gov. Scott Walker just before he left office in January, after initially refusing an Associated Press open records request for the document.

Evers released it hours after the AP published a story about his denial and asked that he reconsider. Evers rejected the initial open records request, saying that the letter was “purely personal” and therefore not subject to the open records law.

“However, we appreciate the public’s interest in knowing about correspondence between governors, regardless of the nature of the messages,” the governor’s spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff said in a follow-up message that included the letter.

In the brief two-paragraph note, Walker, a Republican, congratulates Evers, a Democrat, on his victory.

“It is my sincere hope that you will do well, as well as the state, during your time as governor,” Walker wrote. “As you know, this is a wonderful state and I am positive that will continue in the future.”

He goes on to say, “My best advice is personal. Remember to stay connected to your friends who were your friends long before elections. They will keep your life grounded and positive. Good luck and God be with you!”

What would have been wrong with releasing this note? What possible government interest is served by keeping it private? Or did Evers just not want people to see that Walker isn’t the evil caricature the liberals make him out to be? Bill Lueders (no conservative, he) has it right:

Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council president Bill Lueders, who initially said Evers should be ashamed for not making the letter public, praised his reversal.

“It’s good that Tony Evers and his staff have recognized that the law is supposed to be interpreted in a way that provides maximum transparency,” Lueders said. “I am hopeful that he will keep it up.”