April 10, 2014

"State legislators cannot withhold the names and email addresses of constituents who contact them..."

"... the Wisconsin Court of Appeals decided Wednesday."
Currently, some public officials, including [Gov. Scott] Walker, leave names on correspondence requested under the open-records law while others have blacked them out. Dreps said the ruling creates a “bright-line rule” for all officials to follow.

Brett Healy, president of the MacIver Institute, called the ruling “a win for transparency in government and the taxpayers of Wisconsin.”...

“I think people don’t realize how far-reaching this is,” [Sen. Jon] Erpenbach said...


“[T]he redacted information is not ‘purely personal,’ and the public interest in keeping the identifying information secret does not outweigh the public interest in disclosure,” according to the decision.... “Public awareness of ‘who’ is attempting to influence public policy is essential for effective oversight of our government”....

Erpenbach said he fears people corresponding with his office could be subject to “McCarthy-like” harassment if their identities were released. He pointed to the negative publicity faced by some people who signed recall petitions against Walker.
And look what happened to Brendan Eich.

30 comments:

alan markus said...

This what I said in the cafe psot last night:

26,000 emails - I betcha somewhere in there lurks at least one email sent by a public paid employe on the clock on a goverment owned computer.

But, maybe no secret routers.


This is what Garage Mahal said

I betcha there were emails sent, too. You stupid, stupid simpleton. Hint: oh, forget it.

Yeah Garage, please do forget it and spare us your inane comments.

I'm just hoping for one or two to from Milwaukee County to see if what type of prosecution ensues.

S. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
madAsHell said...

When you shine a light into a room, the cockroaches always find a new place to hide.

Mark said...

So if you write your elected representative, there is no possibility of privacy or anonymity?

Eich is only the beginning. This just opened a can of quantum worms.

I hope no one wrote their representatives about gay marriage or any other hot button issues whose popularity is disappearing ...

Richard Dolan said...

Since the ruling was based on a state statute, the Wisconsin legislature can change it if it has the dire consequences feared by Erpenbach. But partisan advantage, one way or the other, is not the same thing as 'dire consequences.'

RecChief said...

MR. MArkus,
ask garage what he thinks of Chisholm, Landgraf, Robles, Schmitz, Nickel, and Peterson as defendants.

Illuninati said...

Releasing people's names and e-mail addresses could be a beautiful thing for people who make a living sending spam or by phishing the gullible.

Birkel said...

So this article can be summarized with...
"Gosh, I hope the other side doesn't start using the tactics we've used to such great effect!"

Good to know.

Saul Alinsky works for both sides, eh?

alan markus said...

I betcha there were emails sent, too. You stupid, stupid simpleton. Hint: oh, forget it.

So, Garage Mahal, your position is that if tax paid employees on tax paid time use tax paid facilities and tax paid equipment for political communications that is fine?

Glad we got that cleared up. Though you might want to go back to some previous posts and delete some comments that may indicate otherwise, before someone here goes back and finds something, lest you look like some big fat-ass non-educated (as per Drago) troll wannabe.

n.n said...

Democracy, without insurance (e.g. leverage), is dead. Is a monarchy or de facto dictatorship better? Perhaps Marx was right. Why maintain a pretense.

David said...

This is a statutory construction case, right?

The remedy is simple. Pass a statute that requires the sender's consent before their name is released. But then you have to consider what exceptions there might be to that general rule. Criminality? Allegation of criminality? Persons who are donors? Registered lobbyists? Etc? Etc? Etc?

Then there is the question of whether the rule applies to the executive branch as well as the legislature. If there is a concept of execrative privilege in Wisconsin (I don't know), there would be the interesting situation that communications between government employees could be protected, while the public is not. Is that a good result?

This conundrum is caused by two things. The ability to search and find electronic communications, and the tendency to smear (often very unfairly) persons who take unpopular political positions.

Right now the guys at Powerline are questioning whether the Washington Post published an (apparently dishonestly inaccurate) article about the Koch brothers in coordination with certain Democratic politicians. Neither the Post nor the politicians will comment on the questions raised. It also is now alleged that Representative Cummings coordinated with the IRS to target an organization which he found uncongenial.

Are these allegations true? Who knows. But elected government officials and the editors of a very prominent newspaper presumably can not be compelled to reveal their communications without being a party to a lawsuit. If so, why should Joe Public have any lesser protection?

It's a complicated issue. I tend to see all the downsides of this decision and the climate and policies that led to it. Anybody see upsides to this?

Brennan said...

Guess we're going back to phone calls and walk ins if you want any privacy when communicating with your elected representative. Convenience of email is too easy to save for retention and FOIA requests. Phone calls and video recordings are expensive.

Curious George said...

Don't be surprised if you see a car with Wisconsin plates, a red fist bumper sticker, and a back seat full of paper filled file boxes in the Clock Tower Inn parking lot.

C R Krieger said...

OK, at some level this makes sense, but at another not.  Should spinster Aunt Sally not be allowed to send a letter to her State Rep in peace?

I realize that forming up teams to comb through all the EMails and all the letters and all the phone calls, from all the places in Wisconsin (or the World) will help reduce unemployment, but it seems a pretty intrusive way of doing it.  If NSA was doing this wouldn't we look askance?

Regards  —  Cliff

CVHJ said...

From what you quoted this sounds specifically like a policy decision rather than a law decision. (I recognize some decisions blur the difference.) Is not that a legislative prerogative rather than judicial?

garage mahal said...

This what I said in the cafe psot last night:

And you'll be screaming liberal tyranny in the next thread for the same exact thing. Because you're an unprincipled hack.

Marshal said...

I think people don’t realize how far-reaching this is,” [Sen. Jon] Erpenbach said...

people corresponding with his office could be subject to “McCarthy-like” harassment


These two statements don't follow. It's far more likely the McCarthy-like harassment is exactly what people expect and support.

Archie said...

I better not see any of my employees sniveling to some politician. I'll fire their ass.

RecChief said...

"McCarty-like..."

At least McCarthy had the decency (yes I went there) to go after people under the bright lights. John Doe investigations stay in the shadows. There is your scandal.

paminwi said...

Can not stand Jon Erpenbach. When he ran away to Illinois my husband and I stopped into his office and introduced ourselves to his chief of staff. We explained that we were there to ask the Senator to come back to Wisconsin and do his job. We said we thought it was irresponsible for him to leave the state. We were told to our face that the Senator "doesn't care about people like you" and "could we leave the office so he could get back to work".

Now, that redistributing has happened we have moved on to another partisan hack - Fred Risser.

Lucky us!

alan markus said...

@ Garage Mahal:

And you'll be screaming liberal tyranny in the next thread for the same exact thing. Because you're an unprincipled hack.

That makes absolutely no sense - that's the problem when you try to compose your own comments instead of pasting in whatever you find on your left-friendly sites. Careful what you post, lest you look like some big fat-ass non-educated (as per Drago) troll wannabe.

On topic, wonder if there will be any interesting & "colorful" emails from Graeme Zielinski - thinking of that "who you associate with" dynamic.

TCR James said...

Well, that should square away the problems with those pesky whistleblowers reporting governing misconduct to their elected representatives...

garage mahal said...

That makes absolutely no sense

To a brain-dead Walker Drone like you not a lot does make sense. Now run along over to MediaTrackers or MacIver to get your next set of talking points.

alan markus said...

If the McIver Institute has any class, they will be careful about putting out everyone's emails for public view and not do a 26,000 email dump on the Internet.

Just the ones that are politically relevant. Or evidence of criminal behavior.

carrie said...

As I understand it, Erpenbach's staff did a poor job of redacating the email addresses and ".gov" could be seen on some of the redacted email addresses, so . . .

alan markus said...

@ Garage Mahal:

To a brain-dead Walker Drone like you not a lot does make sense. Now run along over to MediaTrackers or MacIver to get your next set of talking points.

So says the person who can not write a coherent comment.

I think we are witness to what happens when a liberal head explodes.

Or when a certain someone's favorite special sock got ruined in the laundry by his mother.

Curious George said...

Where was all this bed wetting when Walker released his emails...WITH NAMES?

Not a fucking peep of privacy concern.

garage mahal said...

Where was all this bed wetting when Walker released his emails...WITH NAMES?

One was a criminal investigation, this is not?

You seriously cannot be this stupid. Wait, I take that back.

RecChief said...

Let me see if I can summarize Garage's argument:

1. It's not ok to campaign while on the government payroll, at least not while you are on the clock, using your .gov email.

2. It's ok to blast out someone's private information during an investigation. That hasn't established who the wrongdoers are, as was explained by the judge in the civil rights case against Chisholm et. al. as John Doe Investigations are fishing expeditions without the benefit of oversight from a jury like a Grand Jury. Chisholm et al were looking for evidence to charge someone with a crime, not the other way around.

3. Privacy must now be held inviolate because.....

The only answer I can come up with based on Garage's comments is that it might show that a member of the Wisconsin Democrat Party has been engaging in the very behavior he accuses someone else of. meh, even as a partisan hack, he isn't very good.

Curious George said...

"garage mahal said...
Where was all this bed wetting when Walker released his emails...WITH NAMES?

One was a criminal investigation, this is not?

You seriously cannot be this stupid. Wait, I take that back."

Uh, Walker was never under investigation, and in any event the investigation was closed for months and months Corky.