Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) aides may have had a bigger role in a failed attempt to gut the state’s government transparency laws than his office previously admitted, The Wisconsin State Journal reported on Thursday.
Emails surfaced by the Journal suggested the governor’s office was behind provisions of the proposal that would have shielded “deliberative process” documents from open records requests. Walker is currently facing lawsuits from various publications and transparency organizations over his refusal to turn over documents related to the so-called “deliberative process,” such as emails and drafting materials concerning how legislation evolves.
Critics from across the political spectrum slammed Wisconsin lawmakers’ attempt to overhaul open records laws in a provision tucked in a larger budget package approved by a legislative committee on the eve of the Fourth of July weekend. State Republicans, led by Walker, quickly dropped the measure. However, for days his office was mum on the governor’s role in the proposed changes, until finally admitting that Walker’s staff “provided input” on the language, which was filed by state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R).
When asked for comment by the Wisconsin State Journal on the most recently surfaced emails, the governor’s spokeswoman pointed back to the office’s previous statement, which also said that the “intent with these changes was to encourage a deliberative process with state agencies in developing policy and legislation.”
State Republicans have signaled that they may try to push the changes again, but as standalone legislation rather than as a provision to the budget package.