The CapTimes | Open government has to matter more than politics

The CapTimes in Madison writes an editorial, declaring that policymakers must do a better job at keeping government open and transparent.

The cause of transparency in government — which is sustained by open records and open meetings laws — must always be above politics.

If this vital struggle on behalf of democratic governance gets mired in ideological posturing or partisan gamesmanship, the politicians who are always looking for a way to cloak their dealings with a shroud of secrecy will always exploit the divisions.

This truth should be self-evident. But recent developments — for the good and some not so good — suggest to us that it bears repeating. 

The good development is that the right-wing Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty won a victory for open records last week.

The not-so-good development is that WILL and the legislator involved ended up on a sour note that had more to do with politics than open government.

In 2017, WILL made a records request to the office of state Rep. Jonathan Brostoff, D-Milwaukee. The group asked for electronic copies of emails relating to a debate about occupational licensing reform. Brostoff’s office consulted with Assembly Chief Clerk Patrick Fuller and, on advice from Fuller, the legislator said that printed copies of the emails were provided to WILL plus a bill for more than $3,200.

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