As I noted below, Wisconsin University professor William Cronon is alleging that the Wisconsin GOP has demanded access, under the state’s open records law, to his private emails from his state university account, in retaliation for his harsh criticism of Scott Walker and the party.
Now the Wisconsin GOP has responded by doubling down on its request — and remarkably, the party is refusing to explain why it wants his private correspondence. From Wisconsin GOP executive director Mark Jefferson:
“Like anyone else who makes an open records request in Wisconsin, the Republican Party of Wisconsin does not have to give a reason for doing so.
“I have never seen such a concerted effort to intimidate someone from lawfully seeking information about their government.
“Further, it is chilling to see that so many members of the media would take up the cause of a professor who seeks to quash a lawful open records request. Taxpayers have a right to accountable government and a right to know if public officials are conducting themselves in an ethical manner. The Left is far more aggressive in this state than the Right in its use of open records requests, yet these rights do extend beyond the liberal left and members of the media.
“Finally, I find it appalling that Professor Cronin seems to have plenty of time to round up reporters from around the nation to push the Republican Party of Wisconsin into explaining its motives behind a lawful open records request, but has apparently not found time to provide any of the requested information.
“We look forward to the University’s prompt response to our request and hope those who seek to intimidate us from making such requests will reconsider their actions.”
That is quite remarkable. Wisconsin Republicans are not only unabashedly doubling down on the request, but they’re also accusing Cronon of intimidation, because he is objecting to their demand for access to his private emails. Also note that the party offers no explanation for why they think there are any questions over whether Cronon behaved in an “ethical manner.” That alone should raise suspicions that the Wisconsin GOP’s use of the open records law — one that’s ironically meant to foster good and clean government — is really about retaliation against Cronon for his criticism of elected officials.
It’s worth noting that at a time when the national media had largely moved on from this story, this will only renew media scrutiny on Wisconsin Republicans and could add more energy to the drive to recall them.