Thursday, August 04, 2011

Open Record Obstruction: What is Alberta Hiding?

One Wisconsin Now was recently forced to file an open records lawsuit against state Senator Alberta Darling because she was stonewalling them on a request that they made to her office. They requested communications between her office and various elements of the private school industry. Only after they actually filed their lawsuit did Darling finally acknowledge their request and produce the records. In fact she produced the records so quickly that you have to wonder what the real hold up was in the first place.

The records that Darling finally produced gave us a strong idea as to why she was apparently trying to delay the release. The emails that OWN obtained clearly show that she was coordinating with private school industry lobbyists. In fact it appears that Darling was preparing to deliver several items on their legislative agenda.

Specifically Darling was communicating with the lobbyist for the school privatization industry organization, the American Federation for Children. This is the same organization that is currently spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to support Darling in her recall election.

Today the Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) filed a complaint against Darling. One key part of the multifaceted complaint includes even more open record obstruction by Darling. They filed an open records request seeking communications between Alberta Darling and several right wing special interest groups. In fact some of those same groups are currently under investigation by the Milwaukee County DA's office for questionable activities involving the recall elections. Is this why Alberta is obstructing the DPW open records request?

I can can certainly empathize with both OWN and with DPW because Alberta Darling's office has also obstructed an open records request that I filed back in April. At that time I requested emails that she received from local officials regarding the budget repair bill. I further narrowed my request by including a limited time frame.

Darling's office first responded to my request nearly a full month after I first made it. They suggested that I narrow my request even further. Because I wanted to make the process as easy as possible I agreed to the suggested changes within 2 days. That was in mid-May and I didn't receive the requested records or even a status of my request until Tuesday, August 5th (one week before her recall election). As if this obstruction wasn't bad enough, now Darling wants me to pay hundreds of dollars for the honor of obtaining those public records that may be useless at this point.

In my view there is a clear pattern of open record obstruction by Alberta Darling. Three examples including mine have surfaced in only the past few days. I can only wonder how many other cases will surface before next Tuesday? But perhaps the most important question is, what exactly is Alberta Darling trying to hide in the first place?

UPDATE: I literally just asked "how many other cases will surface" and then I noticed this from the Shepherd Express.

No comments: