State Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D- Middleton) was ordered on Monday by a Grant County Circuit Court Judge to provide the court with unredacted emails requested by a conservative think tank. 

In 2011, the MacIver Institute requested via Wisconsin’s Open Records Law all emails sent to Sen. Erpenbach that opposed Governor Walker’s collective bargaining reforms, better known as Act 10.

Sen. Erpenbach did eventually comply with the MacIver Institute request, but redacted the names and email addresses on the documents.

The MacIver Institute, represented by Rick Esenberg of the Wisconsin Institute of Law and Liberty (WILL), sued Sen. Erpenbach in order to get the uncensored documents.

And while Grant County Circuit Court Judge Robert VanDeHey did not yet order Sen. Erpenbach to release the emails to MacIver, Judge DanDeHey did order that the documents be turned over to the court for review.

But Sen. Erpenbach argued that the court was barred by the separation of powers to review the unredacted documents  and that he is protecting the senders from “possible harassment.”

What’s really going on here?

Sen. Erpenbach is telling the court and the citizens of Wisconsin that he gets to interpret the Open Records Law and the he gets to choose what information is public and what information can be redacted. More importantly,Sen Erpenbach may be protecting public employees who used taxpayer funded computers and email for political purposes, a possible violation of state ethics laws.

Stay tuned.

UPDATE:

The JS reports: 

Madison – State taxpayers have spent nearly $60,000 on legal costs to defend a state senator against a lawsuit claiming he violated the state open records law....

So far, the Senate has paid the firm $57,272 for work performed through October. Additionally, the Senate paid University of Wisconsin-Madison political scientist John Coleman $2,194 for research he performed for the case.

Taxpayers will have to pay more...