Thursday, March 18, 2010

Walker Only Turns Light On For Friends

On Thursday Scott Walker's campaign put out a press release touting his alleged views on open government. It was an interestingly awkward release, especially since only a week earlier a reporter was questioning his handling of an open records request. I know about this because the specific open records request was one that I filed back in June. A funny thing happened on the day that the reporter called. Finally, after a 9 month odyssey and hundreds of dollars, Walker's people finally mailed the remaining records.

The original price tag that the Walker administration put on open government was over $1,100. All because I wanted to examine his emails, calendar, expense and other records...all public records and all things that should be accessible to the public. I have learned that, depending on who you are, the Walker administration is perfectly willing to make access to public records cost/time prohibitive.

It appears that the Walker administration only values "sunshine" if you are a political ally. In late 2007, Citizens for Responsible Government asked Walker's Administrative Services division to provide a large amount of accounts payable records. In less than one month CRG was charged ZERO dollars for a disk containing information for 188,000 transactions. Last year, in a separate request from the one cited above, I submitted a comparable request within the very same division. I was charged $200 and it took over three times as long as it took to cater to Walker's friends.

Last year even an anonymous request was given preferential treatment from the Walker administration. Some shill for Walker's endless campaign for higher office sent a request directly to his official email. In it they asked for a copy of an email that was sent to Walker's office by our friend Capper. They also asked for any letters of response from the Walker administration. That request was not even signed by an actual person, only by "ScottforGov.com". That request was processed and the documentation sent via email in less than two hours. Not to mention that the Walker administration chose to waive all fees for the extra special service. What makes this even worse is that Walker's cult at "ScottforGov.com" got the response to Capper even before the Walker administration bothered to get it to Capper himself.

I am certainly not the only open records requestor to have problems with Walker's open records obstruction. They have a long history of trying to keep the "wrong people" from public records. Back in 2004 the David Riemer campaign submitted an open records request to the Walker administration. They were trying to learn if Walker had kept one of his original promises: having "at will" employees sign pension benefit waivers. When the Walker administration received this request and realized that they had failed to keep that promise, they ran around trying to get as many waiver signatures as possible. When they finally did send records, it was only a listing rather than copies of the actual waivers (which would have shown the dates of the last minute signatures). Riemer later filed an open records complaint with the Wisconsin Department of Justice who had some of the following choice words for the Walker administration's open records games:

"In sum, this episode evinces a case of how government officials ought not to do business...Nobody honored to serve in public office ought to manipulate public records in this fashion -- that is the opinion of this office."

Although Walker's policy positions change with the wind, it seems that his approach to open records has not changed at all.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting paper trail. Scott Walker, the county executive's office and the Walker campaign know the people behind Scottforgov.com. Obviously, there is a good question as to why they've been granted preferential treatment by not having to pay any money for open records requests. I've heard that one of the members of Scottforgov.com may be a lawyer at ATC. I believe that Scottforgov.com is engaged in some illegal campaign activity and it will be interesting to see what comes out in the coming weeks and months.

Anonymous said...

Interesting theory from the previous anonymous - also incorrect. I'm a poster on Scottforgov.com, and I can assure you the Walker people (unless they have done some extensive digging) don't know who I am. I haven't spoken to anyone in the County Exec's office or campaign in 2 years, to Scott for at least 3. Of course, I don't know everyone who is involved in County government or the campaign, so I could be wrong. ( I know I haven't spoken to Scott)
I also believe I know the lawyer at ATC that you are speaking of, and I can assure you that he/she is NOT a member of scottforgov.com

arod said...

Well, that's typically what happens when you make such a broad-blanket request on a county official. It takes real people to waste their time on your futile requests in an effort to find any dirt on a gubernatorial candidate.

A word of advice, if you think there might be dirt on Walker in a specific area, then make an open records request in that specific area. For example, Belling made an open records request on Evers' email exchanges and wouldn't you know it, he found that Evers was breaking the law.

You see, when you take a shotgun approach because you don't know what the hell you're looking for, it takes valuable time and resources to do your homework for you.

Cory Liebmann said...

maybe i shouldn't have modeled it after the crg and rpw orr's that i have seen.