MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Five Republican state legislators were sued Monday, after they refused to say whether they checked their personal e-mail accounts for records requested by two groups.
Common Cause and the Center for Media and Democracy filed their lawsuit in Dane County.
They said the lawmakers violated the state Open Records Law, by refusing to turn over e-mails in their personal accounts about the American Legislative Exchange Council. It’s a conservative group that works with businesses to draft model bills that can be introduced in state legislatures around the country.
The Council has been criticized for supporting photo ID mandates for voting, and the so-called “stand your ground” gun rights laws.
The lawsuit included a copy of an e-mail sent to the state account of Assembly Republican Jeremy Thiesfeldt of Fond du Lac. It instructed the Exchange Council to stop sending e-mails to Thiesfeldt’s state account, and send it to his personal account instead.
But the plaintiffs say the Open Records Law does not allow officials to hide public records in their personal e-mail accounts. Thiesfeldt is one of the defendants in the suit, along with Assembly Republicans Dan Knodl of Germantown, Pat Strachota of West Bend, Tyler August of Lake Geneva, and Tom Larson of Colfax.
Strachota calls the lawsuit a “political witch hunt.” She denied ever introducing bills drafted by the Exchange Council.