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  • Wisconsin University Stonewalls Open Records Request

    5/3/2013 3:37:38 PM Posted by Adam Tragone

    by Ethan Hollenberger

     WisconsinWhitewaterIn January, Young America's Foundation exposed an entirely liberal lecture series at the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater. The school spent over $52,000 of taxpayer money on a line-up of left leaning speakers

    The lecture series lineup for next year is nearly set. Based on previous years, contracts should be extended to all invited speakers. To see if the University had heeded public disappointment, an open records request was filed on April 17. The request asked for any record that listed the speaker candidates and for "any contracts either signed or pending".

    Sara Kuhl, the University spokesperson, responded quickly: "I have contacted Dr. [Susan] Johnson and no decisions have been made yet on next year's list of speakers. - Sara"

    After being asked again for records, the spokesman lamented in an email, "Because the speakers have not been selected the list is a working draft and is not for release. We'll be happy to share the list with you when it has been finalized."

    In passing, Kuhl declared the contracts "drafts." Kuhl is attempting to stonewall the request by citing an exemption in Wisconsin law.

    In an email on May 2, Kuhl was notified she was unlawfully ignoring the request. Under Wisconsin open records law, Kuhl has the burden of proof when determining if a record is a "draft" under the exception.

    A letter from the University of Wisconsin System's attorney Jennifer Lattis on May 3, declares again the contracts to be a "draft." Lattis further notes, "Even if a non-finalized contract was not a draft under the statutory exception, we would not release such records under the balancing test of Wis. Stat. § 19.35(1)(a). The public interest in protecting the ability of the University to negotiate speaker contracts confidentially in order to obtain the best program and price for the University outweighs the public interest in release of such information prematurely."

    Lattis contends it is not in the best public interest for taxpayers to know before a contract is signed how much money the University is going to spend. These are the same taxpayers who found out the University System had a hidden $650 million surplus

    Interestingly, both Sara Kuhl and Attorney Jennifer Lattis appear to have signed the recall petition against conservative Governor Scott Walker.

    It remains to be seen why the University won't release the speaker candidates for the taxpayer funded lecture series.

    Ethan Hollenberger, age 22, is a conservative activist from Wisconsin. While in college, he was a founding member of the campus' Young American's for Freedom chapter.  He can be contacted at Follow him on Twitter: @EHollenberger.
    • Readers' Comments

    • Ethan, as a businessman with a 30-year experience, I know how much successful negotiations depend on the confidentiality of particulars, until an agreement has been reached. So, if you wish to hear David Duke you must attend your local kkk chapter's meetings, when he is scheduled. And you should attend Bob Jones University, if you wish to hear white supremacist speakers exclusively. Best Regards, Velska
      Posted by Velska on 05/06/2013
    • Hey, Velska, As a political observer with over 31 years of experience, I know how lefty agitators attempt to justify your own ends - deride the anti-lefty commentator, make implicit assumptions about lefty privilage and your 'right' to spend public money without public influence or even disclosure, take the discussion ad hominem in the attempt to dicredit the non-lefty... It's all very predictable - and pretty pathetic that you can't manage a rational argument, so you knee-jerk (and I do mean "jerk") into the reliable lefty personal attack. How very, very telling of your perspective regarding real freedom of speach, civil discourse, and competition of ideas. Your advice to those who would prefer to hear more than your preferred opinion is ti attend a KKK meeting? Seriously? That's your idea of what, exactly - wit? Or is it just a self aggrandizing ego trip, thinking you're being clever? And out there for the whole world to see, realize what a jerk you are, and quietly loathe. Classic.
      Posted by Eric on 05/09/2013
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