CMD Files Open Records Suit Against ALEC Treasurer
ALEC Asserting Immunity From State Freedom of Information Laws
The Center for Media and Democracy has filed suit against Wisconsin State Senator Leah Vukmir, a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the treasurer of ALEC's national board, over her failure to disclose ALEC-related materials under Wisconsin's public records law -- possibly because ALEC told her to keep the documents secret.
CMD has discovered that ALEC has started stamping its materials with a disclaimer asserting "[b]ecause this is an internal ALEC document, ALEC believes it is not subject to disclosure under any state Freedom of Information or Public Records Act." There is no provision in Wisconsin law allowing private organizations to declare themselves immune from the state's sunshine-in-government statutes.
Sen. Vukmir, a member of the ALEC national Board of Directors, the ALEC State Chair for Wisconsin and the ALEC "legislator of the year" for 2009, had previously released ALEC-related documents through public records requests, but her responses have recently dried-up. In response to a request from CMD, Sen. Vukmir claimed that she had no meeting agendas, model bills, or other documents relating to ALEC's most recent meeting, held in Oklahoma City May 2-3, which she attended. Legislators attend ALEC meetings in their official capacity, and have a duty under Wisconsin's public records law to disclose all records relating to official business.
Read more about the lawsuit here.