Wisconsin GOP Blasts "Concerted Effort to Intimidate" Over Request for Professor's E-mails

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 25 2011 12:43 PM

Wisconsin GOP Blasts "Concerted Effort to Intimidate" Over Request for Professor's E-mails

The Wisconsin GOP responds to today's questions about the request for UW Prof. William Cronon's e-mail with a statement from party executive director Mark Jefferson. The statement is in blockquotes; I break it up to annotate.

Like anyone else who makes an open records request in Wisconsin, the Republican Party of Wisconsin does not have to give a reason for doing so.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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Fair enough. I've just asked why Cronon was the subject, and whether there are more requests out there, but they don't have to say.

I have never seen such a concerted effort to intimidate someone from lawfully seeking information about their government.

Further, it is chilling to see that so many members of the media would take up the cause of a professor who seeks to quash a lawful open records request. Taxpayers have a right to accountable government and a right to know if public officials are conducting themselves in an ethical manner.  The Left is far more aggressive in this state than the Right in its use of open records requests, yet these rights do extend beyond the liberal left and members of the media.

I didn't realize I was taking up Cronon's "cause" when I called over. The e-mail interested me because my colleagues at Slate have written about other efforts to obtain the e-mails of academics who cross swords with politicians, i.e. Ken Cuccinelli's quest for the e-mails of climate scientists in Virginia.

Finally, I find it appalling that Professor Cron o n seems to have plenty of time to round up reporters from around the nation to push the Republican Party of Wisconsin into explaining its motives behind a lawful open records request, but has apparently not found time to provide any of the requested information.

Interesting. Cronon did not actually acquire my services in a round-up; there was no use of a Bat-Signal or Bat-Phone. I noticed Josh Marshall's post about it at TalkingPointsMemo , which came after a Journal-Sentinel report on the e-mail request; I've been following Wisconsin news closely since returning from the state this month.

We look forward to the University’s prompt response to our request and hope those who seek to intimidate us from making such requests will reconsider their actions.

I hereby promise not to intimidate the Wisconsin GOP. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to intimidate the clerk at a CVS and see if my coupon for Coke Zero is still valid.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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