July 12, 2015 By Nicole Desautels
At an Independence Day parade last weekend, Governor Scott Walker was asked point blank if he had been involved in the proposal to make changes to the Wisconsin’s open records law — drastic changes that would have led to a “secretive government hidden from public oversight.” Walker, at the time, refused to answer the questions:
Reporter: “The Legislative privilege open records thing, did your office have input in that? Is that something you’re a part of?”
Walker: “Well, as I mentioned yesterday, we’re gonna sit down and talk with the legislative leaders about that. We actually had already planned a meeting, a follow-up meeting the other day in terms of the Arena where we had all four legislative leaders, but I think it’s pretty clear they need to make some changes in that and we’re gonna work with them on Monday.”
Reporter: “Who was behind it? Do you know?”
Walker: “Again, there’s a, as you know, at the end of the legislative process, a lot of things the legislative leadership works on, and uh, for us, uh, as you said, with other things in there, we’ll review it once we see what passes not just the Joint Finance Committee but what gets through the Assembly and the Senate.”
Nowhere in the interview did Walker say he thought the changes to the open records law were “a huge mistake;” nor did he say the changes didn’t come from him, but were brought to him by the legislature.
He may have thought his bizarre non-answers would satisfy everyone and make the story go away, but by the end of the 4th of July weekend, Walker had a huge controversy on his hands
, and on July 8th his office was finally forced to issue a statement. The Wisconsin State Journal reported:
“Gov. Scott Walker’s office was involved in drafting dramatic changes to the state’s open records law that would have made it harder for the public to monitor how its government works, a spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday.
Spokeswoman Laurel Patrick’s statement came after numerous inquiries from the State Journal in recent days and after Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said Tuesday that Walker’s office collaborated with Assembly and Senate leaders to draft the changes.”
However, by Friday morning, nearly a week after first dodging the questions, then being forced to admit his involvement, he went on a rightwing Milwaukee radio show
and called it “a huge mistake”
— a mistake made not by him, but by the legislature:
Walker: “I think the whole thing was a huge mistake… In the end, I think it was a mistake to even think about it in the budget, even though it didn’t come from us.“
Funny how it wasn’t a “huge mistake” on Independence Day, before it was met with a massive backlash from newspaper editorials across the state. But then, the idea didn’t come from Walker anyway, right?