Scott Walker has made a career of sneaking around, whether it’s denying he was involved in a secret email system used feet from his office to fundraise for himself or when he dropped that Act 10 bomb on Wisconsin workers. Yes, he’s tried to sneak around to literally take the words “the truth” out of the University of Wisconsin’s cherished “Wisconsin Idea”.
Another example of trying to sneak through a devious plot has erupted into yet another scandal. The Wisconsin rubber-stamping Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee tried to make Open Records laws gutted within the budget. It is a direct attack on government transparency and the deliberative process of legislation.
Here are some of the features of what Walker and the Republicans were up to.
- Barred from public disclosure communications and records made by lawmakers and given them authority to keep staff communications private.
- Blocked access to files kept by the nonpartisan lawyers who write legislation; now those files are made public once a bill is introduced.
- Kept private “deliberative materials,” defined as “communications and other materials, including opinions, analyses, briefings, background information, recommendations, suggestions, drafts, correspondence about drafts, and notes, created or prepared in the process of reaching a decision concerning a policy or course of action or in the process of drafting a document or formulating an official communication.
Walker has been caught red-handed, no matter how he tries to slip and slide out of it. Walker filed papers to run for President hours after the legislation was done during the Fourth of July holiday in the dark of night. The timing is just too obvious.
Without public hearings or meaningful debate, the 12 GOP legislators moved at the very last minute of the committee’s budget deliberations to insert a radical rewrite of standards governing public access to information about how legislation is developed and how elected officials carry out their duties.
What these legislators proposed was a scheme to end transparency in Wisconsin, with a sweeping proposal to shut down the few avenues by which citizens and journalists can monitor the most significant actions of Gov. Scott Walker’s administration, Walker-controlled state agencies and the Legislature.
The Joint Finance Committee co-chairs, state Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills and state Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette (who denies the Koch Brothers are involved in anything related to politics) were either too stupid to understand basic legislation and not know what they were doing or were clearly getting marching orders from the Walker camp to squash the ability of Wisconsin citizens to review open records of communications by lawmakers and their lobbyists. It should would be very convenient for Walker to have all of his legislation supplied by the Koch Brothers-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) hidden from view as he tried to sneak through their agenda.
|Republicans Who Thought They Could Sneak Through The Anti-Open Records Law|
Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel was shocked by their actions when he stated: “Transparency is the cornerstone of democracy, and the provisions in the budget bill limiting access to public records move Wisconsin in the wrong direction.”
The Walker administration artfully denied that they had anything to do with the legislation snuck into Motion #999, which is notorious for being full of hidden pork legislation written by lobbyists and placed within large legislation documents.
They have a problem. A big problem.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, on Tuesday said he was at the table, along with Assembly leadership and staff for Gov. Scott Walker, for the drafting of a set of provisions passed by Republicans on the Legislature’s budget committee that would gut Wisconsin’s open records laws.
Walker is hoping the national media don’t think this and other scandals are a big deal when he announces his run for President. He assumes that they will not think the issue of denying Wisconsin citizens government transparency in legislation snuck into a budget in the middle of the night is a big deal.
It turns out that the Walker administration admitted they were involved:
Gov. Scott Walker’s office was involved in drafting dramatic changes to the state’s open records law that would have made it harder for the public to monitor how its government works, a spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday.
Spokeswoman Laurel Patrick’s statement came after numerous inquiries from the State Journal in recent days and after Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said Tuesday that Walker’s office collaborated with Assembly and Senate leaders to draft the changes.
Minutes after Patrick’s statement, the Senate voted 32-0 to remove the open records changes from the 2015-17 budget.
Then Walker gets on Recall List Blacklister Charlie Sykes’ radio show and denies he was involved:
Gov. Scott Walker pointed the finger at Republican lawmakers Friday on a widely criticized proposal to curtail Wisconsin’s open records laws, calling it “a huge mistake” that didn’t originate in his office.
“I think it was a mistake to even think about it in the budget, even though it didn’t come from us,” Walker told radio host Charlie Sykes on Friday morning.
Walker’s office earlier this week acknowledged it helped draft the changes, which were stripped from the budget after a fierce outcry from conservatives and liberals alike as well as a broad array of lawmakers, open government advocates and media organizations.
It looks like someone is lying. Again.
No other state has ever done this. None. Except Walker and his Republicans… it is inexcusable what they tried to do and what they are now trying to cover up. The people of Wisconsin and perhaps the rest of the country can now see that Walker is not for open government and he has a lot to hide.