Court Orders Review of Erpenbach Emails

Published on: February 4, 2013

[vc_row fullwidth=”false” attached=”false” padding=”0″ visibility=”” animation=””][vc_column border_color=”” visibility=”” width=”1/1″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]Nearly two years ago, the John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy sent an open records request to State Senator Jon Erpenbach requesting all emails he had received relating to Act 10’s changes to collective bargaining.  The senator provided the requested emails, but not before redacting all of the senders’ contact information, including the names and email addresses of public employees.  WILL filed suit on behalf of the MacIver Institute to obtain the identities of those government workers who had communicated with another government worker with government email accounts regarding government business.

Today, Grant County Circuit Court Judge Robert P. VanDeHey ordered Senator Erpenbach to turn over unredacted copies of those emails to the court so that the judge can review them and determine whether they should be released.  That is an important first step toward MacIver obtaining unredacted copies of those emails, as the judge soundly rejected two of the senator’s arguments.  He rejected the senator’s argument that the email addresses were not “records,” and also rejected the senator’s argument that his status as a senator essentially made him immune to the open records law where “constituent communications” (as he called them) were concerned.  All that remains is the senator’s argument that the supposed public interest in protecting the identities of these government workers who use government resources for political purposes outweighs the public interest in disclosure – an argument that will be resolved by the judge’s review of the emails.

“The public has a right to know if public servants were using taxpayer resources and on taxpayer time to contact politicians about Act 10,” said Brett Healy, President of the MacIver Institute.  “Taxpayers deserve a transparent government and that is what MacIver hopes this case will accomplish.”

Rick Esenberg, President and General Counsel of WILL, said, “We are heartened that the Circuit Court affirmed the status of these e-mails as ‘records’ under the Open Records Law and made clear that the law applies to legislators like Senator Erpenbach.”

A copy of the court’s order can be read here.[/vc_column_text][mk_fancy_title tag_name=”h2″ style=”false” color=”#153955″ size=”26″ font_weight=”normal” font_style=”normal” txt_transform=”none” letter_spacing=”1″ margin_top=”0″ margin_bottom=”18″ font_family=”none” font_type=”” align=”left” animation=”” el_class=””]Case Documents[/mk_fancy_title][prettyfilelist type=”pdf” tags=”maclver-v-erpenbach” tag=”streetcar-challenge”][/vc_column][/vc_row]