Talking Points Memo: Wis. GOP FOIAs Emails of State University Prof Critical Of Gov. Walker

March 25, 2011- Professor William Cronon, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is now in a serious tangle with none other than the state Republican Party, in yet another battle over Scott Walker's new anti-public employee union law. After Cronon posted a piece on out-of-state think tanks and interest groups that would spur the law, the GOP has responded with an open-records request on Cronon's own state account e-mails.

On March 15, Cronon posted a blog entry entitled, "Who's Really Behind Recent Republican Legislation in Wisconsin and Elsewhere? (Hint: It Didn't Start Here)", seeking to focus attention on out of state conservative groups such as the American Legislative Exchange Council, and the infamous phone call that Walker had a month ago with blogger Ian Murphy, who posed as Republican financier David Koch.

"I don't want this to become an endless professorial lecture on the general outlines of American conservatism today, so let me turn to the question at hand: who's really behind recent Republican legislation in Wisconsin and elsewhere?" Cronon wrote. "I'm professionally interested in this question as a historian, and since I can't bring myself to believe that the Koch brothers single-handedly masterminded all this, I've been trying to discover the deeper networks from which this legislation emerged."

Then on March 17, as Cronon announced in a blog post Thursday, the state Republicans have filed an open-records request — seeking to read his e-mails from his state university account.

The request, which Cronon has posted online, says in part:

Under Wisconsin open records law, we are requesting copies of the following items:

Copies of all emails into and out of Prof. William Cronon's state email account from January 1, 2011 to present which reference any of the following terms: Republican, Scott Walker, recall, collective bargaining, AFSCME, WEAC, rally, union, Alberta Darling, Randy Hopper, Dan Kapanke, Rob Cowles, Scott Fitzgerald, Sheila Harsdorf, Luther Olsen, Glenn Grothman, Mary Lazich, Jeff Fitzgerald, Marty Beil, or Mary Bell.

To be clear, that list is composed of: The state's top Republican leaders, Walker and the Fitzgerald brothers who lead the two houses of the legislature; major unions and union leaders Marty Beil and Mary Bell; and the eight Republican state senators who have been targeted by Democrats for recall campaigns.


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