Thursday, August 20, 2009

No “Vindication” for Kapanke in Court

Last week state Senator Dan Kapanke (R-La Crosse) saw a member of his staff get fined because of his office's questionable mixing of campaign work and state resources. The fine came after a limited review by the Government Accountability Board. Imagine what could have or might still happen if GAB actually takes a more complete look at the Kapanke office shenanigans. Either way, it might have been wise for the senator to withhold his claims of "vindication" until after all of the facts were fully examined.

It seems that as one examines the Kapanke office more, it only opens new areas of concern. One major example of this is Senator Kapanke's apparent obstruction of an open records request filed by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. The DPW filed a lawsuit against the legislator because his office did not properly comply with an open records request. Today that case was heard in a Dane County courtroom and lets just say that Kapanke was not claiming any "vindication" afterwards. In fact I didn't see much in the reporting of today's activities that wasn't embarrassing for Kapanke, his staff and more importantly his constituents.

First, one of his top aides admitted during her testimony that she routinely conducts state business on her private email. This is not cool for a number of reasons, but perhaps more problematic was the fact that she didn't search these emails before denying the DPW open records request. Testimony also showed that some of the information requested was actually destroyed. Although this top Kapanke aide is the records custodian for the office, she stated that she has never had training to serve in that role. After hearing all of the testimony and the arguments, it looks like the judge is now ready to rule against Kapanke over the records dispute. The judge will have to decide the amount that Kapanke must pay for legal fees and whether he will make Kapanke pay any punitive damages for the open records obstruction.

Even Kapanke couldn't claim any level of "vindication" after this day in court.

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