Two groups sued five Republican lawmakers Monday alleging they violated the state's open records law by declining to say whether they searched their personal email accounts for contacts with a conservative organization that works with corporations to draft legislation.
The lawsuit was filed in Dane County Circuit Court against Reps. Tyler August of Lake Geneva, Dan Knodl of Germantown, Tom Larson of Colfax, Pat Strachota of West Bend and Jeremy Thiesfeldt of Fond du Lac.
The lawmakers told the groups they searched their official state accounts and turned over any emails they found there, but they would not tell the groups if they searched their personal email accounts.
The suit was brought by Common Cause and the Center for Media and Democracy, two groups that have tried to bring to light the work of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a group that works with corporations and conservatives to write model legislation that can be introduced in state legislatures across the country.
And this is the important part:
A document included in the court case shows Thiesfeldt is involved with ALEC but tries to keep it out of his state email account.Lawmakers have tried to prevent disclosure of many things through the use of personal email accounts like Milwaukee County Scott Walker John Doe investigation alleges occurred in Walkers County Executive Office to prevent the disclosure and archiving of campaign emails, but that's not enough to keep things out of the public eye.
"Please send ALL ALEC material to the Representative's PERSONAL e-mail . . . from now on," says a June email to ALEC sent from Thiesfeldt's state account. "Please do not send his state account (@legis.wi.gov) any more updates. He will keep up through his personal account."
The legislators were contacted by the 2 groups for information on their ALEC ties on September 11 and either gave evasive answers or declined to answer saying that their offices no longer handle anything related to ALEC.
ALEC has been in the news after it was revealed that they were submitting model legislation to it's subsidized legislative membership (corporations must pay a hefty fee to have access to legislators across the country) so that the legislation could be introduced in individual states. It's the reason that so much legislation that followed the Red Tide of 2010 was virtually identical. They had been virtually invisible until 2011 when their activities in promoting legislation that was corporate sponsored came to light.
ALEC has also come under a great deal of heat in the shooting death of unarmed Floridian Trevan Martin that brought attention to the so-called Stand Your Ground Laws passed by so many Republican dominated states which was promoted by ALEC as model legislation.
This is good news, not only that Common Cause and the Center for Media and Democracy are taking action to expose ALEC connected legislators, but that ALEC connections are now seen by legislators as quite toxic.
I asked and received:
Scott Walker is on the prosecution witness list for a second criminal trial of one of his top aides.
Prosecutors may call Gov. Scott Walker as a witness in an embezzlement case involving Timothy D. Russell, a former top aide while Walker was Milwaukee County executive.
It's the second criminal case in which Walker has been listed as a possible witness that grew from a secret John Doe probe that is focused on Walker aides and associates. Prosecutors previously named Walker to a witness list in the Oct. 15 felony misconduct trial of Kelly M. Rindfleisch. She is accused of doing campaign work while at her taxpayer-paid county job in Walker's county executive office.I'm pretty sure they're cooking some meme up about "witch hunts", "librul judges", "political prosecutions" or something else they think their hypnotized and drooling followers will buy hook line and sinker.
Russell worked as Walker's deputy chief of staff and housing director; Rindfleisch succeeded Russell as deputy chief of staff.
Michael Steinle, a lawyer hired by Walker in connection with the John Doe, did not immediately return a call for comment. Walker has said he is not a target of the investigation.
What I really want to know is what the prosecutors think they'll get from Walker as one of their witnesses. Now in 2 trials! Or are they just trying to rattle someones cage to get them to cooperate with them or unnerve them. I'd love to be a fly on the wall in the John Doe offices.
Reindfleischs trial begins October 15, Russells is scheduled to begin December 3.