If you've ever emailed your lawmaker, then you are now open to political harassment and blacklisting.
The message is clear: Shut up!
Wisconsinites just lost the power of representation in one fell swoop, when the conservative fringe group MacIver Institute forced State Sen. Jon Erpenbach to reveal the email addresses of everyone concerned about the passage of Act 10. You can also thank our conservative activist judges.
The conservative Waukesha Second Circuit Court handed down their first warning shot to all voters; we’ll know what you’re thinking, and we’ll know who are.
Judge Brown: “This result is a notice to legislators and citizens, whoever they are and whatever their opinions, that communications to legislators are subject to the open records law, without redaction.”
State Sen. Jon Erpenbach
Yes, Judge Brown gave us “notice” when it came to contacting our elected representatives via email.
“We conclude the redacted information is not ‘purely personal.”
Your email address isn't personal? Of course former Republican lawmakers make for great wise and wonderful judges too. Take Mark Gundrum’s remarkable "can't prove a negative" logic:
Appellate Court Judge Mark Gundrum, a former Republican lawmaker, wrote that Erpenbach couldn't prove those emailing his office could expect threats for their advocacy or that they had any expectation of privacy when emailing the senator. "In this day and age, it would be unreasonable for a person sending an email to a lawmaker in an attempt to influence public policy to believe that the email and all the information therein might not be seen by persons other than just the lawmaker," Gundrum wrote.
Really, ask any voter, I'll bet you get a different answer. Erpenback offered this:
Erpenbach believes the ruling creates “big problems” because it prevents lawmakers from shielding the identities of people who bring highly personal and possibly embarrassing problems to the attention of their elected representatives. “I think people don’t realize how far-reaching this is,” Erpenbach said … he fears people corresponding with his office could be subject to “McCarthy-like” harassment if their identities were released. He pointed to the negative publicity faced by some people who signed recall petitions against Walker.
“The Senate rules clearly say I can protect the privacy of the citizens of this state that contact my office … I can protect the rights of citizens over special interest groups. If we do not preserve the voice of individual people then we give all of the power in this state to those that can buy the best lobbyist. The issue becomes, is it possible to do a cost benefit analysis on the Constitutional rights of the citizens of this state?”
And while dark money pours into our pubic elections, these conservative activist judgers have the balls to say:
“Public awareness of ‘who’ is attempting to influence public policy is essential for effective oversight of our government,” the judges found.
The public is on notice:
“This result is a notice to legislators and citizens, whoever they are and whatever their opinions, that communications to legislators are subject to the open records law, without redaction.”