A Milwaukee TV station has sued Gov. Tony Evers for withholding copies of his emails — records his office eventually released, in part, minutes after the lawsuit was filed earlier this week.
The lawsuit, filed in Dane County Circuit Court on Tuesday, came after Fox 6 repeatedly filed requests dating back to September for a month's worth of emails, a week's worth of emails and finally a day's worth of emails to and from Evers and his chief of staff, Maggie Gau.
The governor's staff later sent Fox 6 a copy of a single day's worth of emails from June 14 only from Evers — records that were released some 10 minutes after the suit was filed Tuesday afternoon.
The Wisconsin Transparency Project filed the lawsuit on behalf of Fox 6. It's the group's second suit since it was founded earlier this fall by Tom Kamenick, a former attorney at the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty.
Kamenick said while some records were eventually released, the group is continuing the suit to ask the court to order Evers to release both a week's worth and four week's worth of his correspondence.
"Oversight of the Governor’s actions is of paramount importance to the people of the State of Wisconsin and the Governor should be expected to handle voluminous record requests," the suit argues.
Evers' office has argued the station's requests are too broad and "lack a subject matter," and that the state's open records law doesn't compel emailed communications to be released unless asks include a specific topic — an interpretation open government groups dispute.
Evers spokeswoman Britt Cudaback in a statement said Evers "is committed to complying with state law and guidance from current and past attorneys general while ensuring transparency and accountability for the people of Wisconsin."
"Hopefully the legislature will demonstrate the same commitment to transparency and accountability by changing the law so they’re no longer permitted to destroy their public records," she said.
Before the suit's filing on Tuesday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in a report earlier this month announced Evers' staff had released correspondences to the publication after it had asked for a single day's worth of Evers' emails. The report notes Evers' legal counsel said that they were being released because the office was making an exception.