Talking Points Memo: Wis. GOP: Attacks On Our Open-Records Request Against Professor Are ‘Chilling’

March 25, 2011- The Wisconsin Republican Party is standing by the open-records request it has lodged, seeking the e-mails of University of Wisconsin Professor William Cronon, who has written critical things about Gov. Scott Walker's new law curtailing public employee unions. And furthermore, they say that the real villains here are the people who want to conceal important information about their government from the public.

"Like anyone else who makes an open records request in Wisconsin, the Republican Party of Wisconsin does not have to give a reason for doing so," state GOP executive director Mark Jefferson says in a new statement Greg Sargent reports — with Jefferson then tearing into critics for trying to intimidate the GOP.

"I have never seen such a concerted effort to intimidate someone from lawfully seeking information about their government," Jefferson writes. "Further, it is chilling to see that so many members of the media would take up the cause of a professor who seeks to quash a lawful open records request. Taxpayers have a right to accountable government and a right to know if public officials are conducting themselves in an ethical manner."

Cronon lambasted the records request in a post on his blog Thursday night, saying that it threatened the principle of academic freedom: "It is chilling indeed to think that the Republican Party of my state has asked to have access to the emails of a lone professor in the hope of finding messages they can use to attack and discredit that professor. It makes me wonder if they have given even the slightest thought to what would happen to the reputation of this state and of its universities if they were to succeed in such an effort."


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