Governor Doyle just does not get it. After more than six years, he believes he is entitled to withhold information from the press and public.
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In July, Governor Doyle was roundly criticized for providing deficient travel records, including 145 instances where documentation for state travel expenditures was incomplete or missing altogether.
Now, Governor Doyle is being sued by the Capital Times Newspaper for failing to comply with the state’s open records law. The newspaper believes Doyle and his aides used stall tactics to prevent the newspaper from reporting important facts about the nine candidates Doyle was considering to fill three judicial openings in Dane County.
"The suit, filed in Dane County Circuit Court, specifically names Doyle and his attorney, Chandra Miller Fienen, for their part in withholding letters written for and against nine finalists for three Dane County judicial openings. The request for the information, which also included a request for the questionnaires each finalist completed, was made by Capital Times reporter Mike Miller on June 4. Miller also is named as a plaintiff in the suit.
Although the state does not have a set time frame under which documents must be made public, the law does state information must be made available to the public in a timely manner."
According to a statewide audit in 2008, three of every ten requests filed under the Freedom of Information Act are not properly fulfilled, and two in ten requests were fulfilled only after records custodians required the requesters to identify themselves or explain why they wanted the documents, in violation of state law.
The Governor has paid lip service to the importance of complying with the state’s open records law dating back to his time as Attorney General, but when it comes to his administration, he has consistently failed to fulfill records requests in a complete and timely manner. More disturbing than Governor Doyle’s lack of regard for our open records law is the obvious contempt his office has for the news media:
"This is the kind of unnecessary chest thumping on the news organization's part that will cost the taxpayers’ money as you pose as champions of open records law," Sensenbrenner said.
As Governor, I will enhance the transparency of state government-just as I have done as County Executive. Wisconsin citizens have a right to access public records in a complete and timely manner. Governor Doyle works for us, and that is a privilege.