Boots & Sabers

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2311, 11 Nov 19

Evers Violates Open Record Law and Won’t Release Emails

GREAT story by Fox 6

The FOX6 Investigators regularly conduct open records spot checks on public employees’ emails. A recent spot check on two weeks of state lawmakers’ emails uncovered the practice of using personal email addresses to communicate about sensitive government information.

In September, the FOX6 Investigators requested just over four weeks of emails to and from Governor Tony Evers and his chief of staff, Maggie Gau. Assistant legal counsel Erin Deeley denied the request. FOX6 narrowed the request to emails from one week; Deeley sent another denial letter.

Finally, the FOX6 Investigators asked for just Governor Evers’ emails from just one day.




2311, 11 November 2019


  1. Kevin Scheunemann

    Typical liberal.

    Maybe his nickname should be Hugo.

  2. Merlin

    Maybe Evers and Gau don’t use government servers and there are no emails subject to the records request. It’s not exactly a novel idea.

  3. Le Roi du Nord

    I can recall two instances where I had to compile an extensive open records request, one during the Thompson years, and the other in the early months of walkers reign.  Requests had to specify a range of time, AND a specific subject, case number, title, or name.  You couldn’t just ask for all records in a month or every email between A and B.  Maybe the law/policy has changed since then, but I am surprised someone can ask for such broad and non-specific records.

  4. jjf

    To be faaaairrr…  it’s not a violation until a DA, AG or court says so.  Until then, let’s call it “alleged.”

    And yes, many varieties of politician and public official will do this.

    Aren’t we glad there’s an active press and groups like WisFOIC who challenge these withholdings and redactions?

  5. Kevin Scheunemann

    You liberal apologists for violating the law….awful. Just awful.

  6. Le Roi du Nord


    Before you go calling others law breakers perhaps you could cite the specific law being violated(including the correct and appropriate sub-sections), and an analysis of how you would proceed with charging and prosecution.  Facts would be a bonus.

  7. Mar

    I realize Le Roi, you are uneducated and lazy, so as a public service to help you out: In general, “any requester has a right to inspect any record.” (Wis. Stat. 19.35(1)(a)). However, people who are incarcerated and people who have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution are restricted in their rights of access to public documents. A statement of purpose is not required and the statute for how records can be used states, “A requester shall comply with any regulations or restrictions upon … use of information which are specifically prescribed by law.” The Wisconsin Open Records Law does not specify a time requirement for responses to records requests.’
    I hope that helps you Uneducated Lazy Le Roi.

  8. dad29

    Yes.  You’ll notice—if you’re paying attention, LEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERoy!!!–that Channel 6 runs the same request past every single Leggie, and they comply without argument.

    So the law is different for Tokin’Tony.

  9. Kevin Scheunemann

    Nord never cares about facts. Only his liberal feelings.

    He is put out that liberals get criticized for wrongdoing…classic snowflake.

  10. jjf

    Dad29, that’s the law and the process.  Records custodians can attempt to make stupid refusals and try to complain about the lack of specificity or make unreasonable redactions.  And then the records requester has to challenge them.

    Dems do it, Republicans do it, non-partisan bureaucrats do it.  Without advocates holding their feet to the fire, they don’t learn and change their ways.

    And yes, if you want to be concerned about government openness, you’re going to need to be even-handed about this, and heavens to Betsy, you might even find yourself enjoying working side-by-side with people who might otherwise be your political opponents.

    And given the usual mote-and-beam problem here on B&S, may I remind you that the legislature has largely exempted itself from the open records law, if not large chunks of open meetings law, too.

    And Kevin, can you hear my eyes rolling from here?  Me, an apologist for violations of the open records law?

  11. jjf

    Mar, that’s a good start at the basics, but it doesn’t really answer the question here.

    There’s the statutes and then there’s court precedent and then there’s the opinions and recommendations of the AG’s office.

    So if you were trying to determine whether Ever’s office was within the law, the statutes might not be much help.  The statutes say they can make excuses like this.

    If you want to challenge what they’re doing, you have three paths to remedy.  You can ask a DA to examine it, or you can ask the AG’s office to examine it, or you can take it to court and let a judge examine it.  It’s not a “violation” until one of them confirms that it is, right?

    So for example to answer “how long,” the DA, AG or court will follow the statutes and then court precedent and AG opinion and recommendation, which soon leads to the magical phrase “as soon as practicable and without delay.”

    DOJ policy says that means ten working days ,unless you can come up with a justification for a longer delay.

  12. Mike

    Open records violations occur because of refusal to follow the law. If they are ruled a violation by a judge that just affirms the violation, it does not create it. The lawlessness occurs with the refusal, not a judges mandamus order.

    The interesting thing about open records refusals and delays is that the original story being worked is dragged out over the length of the delay. When the requested information is provided  the story fades to old news pretty quick.

  13. jjf

    Mar, refusing a request because it isn’t specific enough is not a violation in itself, right?  So when does it become a violation?

  14. Mar

    jjf, you are very broad. Of course its not technically a violation until there is a court ruling. Just like there is no violation of law until all appeals are exhausted. For instance, No if you are appealing a conviction and you die, you are declared innocent.
    Using common sense obviously doesn’t appeal to you.
    But, please state, jjf, that President Trump is completely innocent of all accusations against him. It’s the same concept.

  15. Le Roi du Nord


    As you are aware there are regulars on this site that are prone to unfounded allegations, hyperbole, alternative facts.  Twice in recent days you have interceded in an opportunity for those folks to prove their claims, and provide a teachable moment for the rest of the readers. While calling me uneducated and lazy (neither of which is even remotely true) you have allowed those making those rash and unfounded claims to get off without proving anything.  It was nice of you to point out the relevant statute for open records , but that just enabled said claimant avoid any and all opportunities to do his own research.

    Having said that, perhaps you should do some research on this, “Just like there is no violation of law until all appeals are exhausted”, or this, ” For instance, No if you are appealing a conviction and you die, you are declared innocent”.

    This could be a teachable moment for all of us….

  16. Mar

    Sure, Le Roi, the case of Keith Hernandez, formerly of the the New England Patriots and now playing for Satan. He was convicted of murder, appealed, became a husband in jail and then was found not guilty of murder because he offed himself while the appeal was ongoing. His guilty verdicts were vacated and he is considered innocent.

  17. Le Roi du Nord

    educated mar:

    Do you mean Aaron Hernandez?  Keith was a baseball player.

    “Days after being acquitted of the double homicide, Hernandez was found dead in his cell. His death was ruled a suicide. His conviction for Lloyd’s murder was initially vacated under the doctrine of abatement ab initio because Hernandez died during its appeal, but was reinstated in 2019 following an appeal from prosecutors and the Lloyd family. After his death, he was diagnosed with severe chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which may have affected his actions and been a contributing factor in some of his criminal behavior”.

    I rest my case.

  18. Le Roi du Nord

    Citation:  Boston Globe

  19. Mar

    Well, I was not aware of the conviction being reinstated.
    I will give it to you LrRoi, you actually investigated something.
    High five.

  20. Le Roi du Nord

    Look before you leap. A good rule to live by.

  21. jjf

    Most open records and open meetings controversies don’t result in a fine against a particular actor.  Most are resolved by other means.  There’s not a lot of teeth in these laws, and even what’s there is rarely used.  So why swing for “violation” at this early stage of the game?  I don’t see anyone defending Evers’ office.  It’ll come around.

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