On Friday, Grant County Circuit Court Judge Robert P. VanDeHey upheld a decision by State Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) to redact the names on thousands of emails from public employees requested in a two year old open records request from the MacIver Institute. MacIver was trying to determine just how many public employees used government computers and public time to lobby Sen. Erpenbach to vote against the collective bargaining reforms better known as Act 10.
Using public resources for political uses or lobbying is a crime.
But Judge VanDeHey sided with Erpenbach, saying, "while this court may not have arrived at the same conclusion as did Senator Erpenbach, it is required by case law to accord deference to his judgment."
"In the future, public employees would be well-advised to contact their political leaders using their personal computers and while not at work," said VanDeHey.
In February, Brett Healy of the MacIver Institute said, "The public has a right to know if public servants were using taxpayer resources and on taxpayer time to contact politicians about Act 10. Taxpayers deserve a transparent government and that is what MacIver hopes this case will accomplish."
“When employees, often in violation of specific workplace policies, use public computers to communicate with public officials on matters of public policy, the public is entitled to know – without regard to whether a politician or court believes that the conduct is “important enough” to be subject to disclosure.”
The bottom-line is, Judge VanDeHey is assisting in a cover-up by Sen. Erpenbach. The judge acknowledges that public employees are not allowed to use public resources and time to contact lawmakers about issues and legislation. But according to Judge VanDeHey, Erpenbach is allowed to decide what is and isn't public information on public documents.