Bill Lueders, Managing Editor of The Progressive, filed a records requester with State Representative Scott Krug (R-Nekoosa), asking for electronic copies of particular email files. Krug refused, citing Assembly policy to provide only paper copies. Lueders sued, and the Dane County Circuit Court ruled that Krug had to provide electronic files, and Krug appealed.
WILL filed a similar lawsuit against State Representative Jonathan Brostoff (D-Milwaukee), in early 2018. WILL researcher Collin Roth requested emails (in electronic format) related to occupational licensing reform, and instead Brostoff printed out all the emails and tried to charge us over $3,000. The case settled when Brostoff turned over the emails in electronic format and paid our attorney fees.
As part of a coalition of groups from across the political spectrum, WILL filed an amicus brief in Lueders’ case arguing that the Open Records Law requires custodians to provide electronic copies of electronic files when requested. The ORL expressly applies to electronic records, and printing out an electronic file hides large quantities of metadata contained in the original file. WILL was joined by the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, the John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy, the Badger Institute, and Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin.
The Court of Appeals upheld the lower court, ruling that record custodians must provide electronic records when requested. Representative Krug has until July 5 to decide whether to petition the Wisconsin Supreme Court to hear the case.
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