You remember Amy Loudenbeck, right?
She was one of twelve monkeys who tried to pull a fast one on Wisconsin citizens under the noise of July Fourth celebrations last year when they passed a measure during committee that would have gutted the state's revered open records law.
Basically, Loudenbeck signed her name to a measure that would have legally placed a government gag order on documents and anyone participating in the state's legislative process. Much of the new language was designed to protect legislator's communications with their political donors and special interest groups during what they re-spun as the "deliberative process."
However, the new secrecy statutes would have also applied to municipal, county, school meetings and local records. Imagine that! In essence, it would have given legislators and government officials absolute authority to withhold from public view anything they wanted.
Since then, most of the politicians involved in this deviously wild power stroke have verbally backed away from the changes, including the mastermind, Gov. Scott Walker.
Except for Amy Loudenbeck. She never backed down from the proposal - she doubled down on it.
When given more than a week to reconsider her vote, the unashamed Loudenbeck reaffirmed her position on the wrong-headed proposal to editorial boards and to this day remains committed to resurrecting this assault on democracy.
BDN Editorial Excerpt:
I ASKED AMY if her constituents in the home district lobbied her to close off records. Was she barraged with phone calls, e-mails, letters? She was not.
I asked her if she reached out to stakeholders she represented in her district. Did she call anyone at the Beloit Daily News to get their thoughts? No. Janesville Gazette? No. Delavan Enterprise? No. Lake Geneva Regional News? No. Beloit City Manager Lori Luther? No. Beloit School Superintendent Tom Johnson? No. The Rock or Walworth county board chairs? No. Anybody? Apparently not.
So, the surprise rewriting of the state’s government transparency law came just from the closed caucuses of the Republican majority? She referred to support from the leadership.
I asked her, again, to specifically identify who was behind the measure. She did not.
LET’S MAKE NOTE of the fact that Rep. Loudenbeck was all alone on this issue among regional legislators representing our area.
Well, she's not all alone.
Not yet anyways.
Believe it or not, the Janesville Gazette and Beloit Daily News, despite all of their hysterical bluster about defending the state's open record laws, have endorsed Loudenbeck for re-election. They stand with her. Honest.
That, depite last year when the Gazette editorialized a fear that they suspect certain legislators still express desires to reintroduce those restrictions to the records law.
The Gazette repeated: "The media cannot rest. Nor will they."
Yeah rrrrright. So much that they endorse the legislators when it's time to take a stance against them. It's resting time, folks!
If both newspapers were true at the time to their own urgency and principles, they would have been better off leaving the 31th District vacant for two years than suggest Loudenbeck serve. That's where they should be.
Because if she wins re-election next Tuesday, and she likely will, her constituents and the local newspapers will stand with her in sending a clear message to Madison. They will be saying it's time to retire the state's open record laws and give absolute power to the state's government officials. There is no way around it.
Heck, it won't just be a message. Sending the unapologetic Loudenbeck back to Madison will be a mandate.
The state's open records laws are hanging in the balance on Tuesday.
RNR - Local Rep. Loudenbeck Listed Among Those Smashing Wisconsin's Open Records Laws
BDN - Citizens loud on records: Loudenbeck’s office flooded by complaints