Your Right to Know: Vukmir wrong on records law

From Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council: State Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa, is making a novel legal argument to dodge a public records request. It’s one that, carried to its logical extreme, could neuter Wisconsin’s Public Records Law.

Vukmir is claiming legislative immunity from a June lawsuit filed by the liberal Center for Media and Democracy, which has alleged that she failed to turn over records related to the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC, a lightning rod for liberals, works with conservative state legislators around the country to write model legislation.

In a motion filed by state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen’s office, Vukmir claims she can’t be sued while the Legislature is in session. If her argument prevails, lawmakers could no longer be compelled to comply with public records requests.

Here’s why: Legislators recently have defined their “sessions” as beginning on the day they are sworn in and lasting until the next time they are sworn in. That would make Vukmir immune from lawsuit for the entire time she remains in office, which could be for many years.

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Your Right to Know is a monthly column distributed by the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council (, a non-profit group dedicated to open government.

Visit Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council for more. In addition, please also see CMD pushes back against attorney general’s attack on open records in ALEC lawsuit and Wisconsin AG says he must defend legislators immunity open records lawsuit for more background.

The Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council is a member of NFOIC. –eds