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Monday, May 20, 2013

Wisconsin Is Entitled To Know Who Paid Gov. Walker's Legal Defense Fund

Once the story broke on May 2nd that Gov. Scott Walker was not going to release the names of those who paid for his legal defense fund regarding the criminal investigation of his county office before he was elected governor, not one Wisconsin newspaper since issued an editorial demanding Walker release the information. At least to the extent that I could find no editorial combing through the April/May archives of the Wheeler Report.

But woe onto the law enforcement agency that dares institute a new policy of hiding information that previously was available to the public. Such was the case regarding a recent Janesville Gazette editorial titled, "Edgerton Police Wrong To Keep Residents In The Dark." The Gazette ripped the EPD for instituting a new policy of releasing little to no details - other than the last name - of anyone in a official police report.

Look, the Gazette's criticism is all well and good here, but where were they on Walker's refusal to release the names of those paying for his legal fees?

When I compare the apples to the oranges, I could care less about knowing the names and details of the average schlub getting a speeding ticket or fine for jaywalking, but as a voter I expect full transparency regarding any public official receiving huge cash gifts from donors. Folks, we're not talking about a governor getting a couple of Packer game tickets here for free...


Where is the Fourth Estate? No need to answer that one.

Granted, Walker's legal defense fund is not subject to open records law and the state's GAB said the governor is not required to name them, but Wisconsin Law states it is a matter of declared policy...

Wisconsin Laws 19.31 - Declaration of policy

19.31 Declaration of policy. In recognition of the fact that a representative government is dependent upon an informed electorate, it is declared to be the public policy of this state that all persons are entitled to the greatest possible information regarding the affairs of government and the official acts of those officers and employees who represent them. Further, providing persons with such information is declared to be an essential function of a representative government and an integral part of the routine duties of officers and employees whose responsibility it is to provide such information.

This has nothing to do with digging into the governor's emails or looking to blacklist somebody to make a nasty political statement. It has everything to do with the public's right to know that taxpayer revenue or government power is not abused or used to payback any favors. It's fundamental clean and transparent government and according to state policy, we're entitled to know.

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