A.G. Van Hollen quote on video: “Who wouldn’t want their citizens to know what they’re doing for them if they’re doing the right thing?”

Awkward.

The attorney general of our state has just been called out by PR Watch for helping a good Tea Party friend avoid complying with Wisconsin’s open records law (Senator Leah Vukmir is even more importantly the treasurer of the national board for ALEC).

But last year Van Hollen said “who wouldn’t want their citizens to know what they’re doing for them if they’re doing the right thing?”.
And it’s on video.
And he was at the time of that statement speaking to a May 2012 gathering at a Freedom of Information Summit, hosted by the National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC) and the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council.


Video is from Arthur Kohl-Riggs of SSWIDTMS

I was actually present during this little speech (not as a result of anybody’s invitation) and I remember that WFIC President Bill Lueders gave A.G. Van Hollen effusive praise for supporting limitations on the charges public officials can impose on those who request records – limiting charges to the “actual, necessary and direct cost” as spelled out in the decision in the court case Journal-Sentinel vs. City of Milwaukee.

Today, September 13th the WFIC expresses no praise for our A.G. It is “shocked and saddened” that Van Hollen is choosing to help Senator Leah Vukmir claim immunity from Wisconsin’s Open Records Law.

Allow me to add another emotion: disgust.

What we’re seeing is our Attorney General failing miserably at a test of public service. Does he serve us? Or does he serve power brokers? He serves the latter – and specifically – he serves the leaders of ALEC.

Footnote:

Back in 2010 Van Hollen won an openness advocacy recognition award from the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council.
From WFIC’s web site, dated 2010:
Political Openness Advocate of the Year (the “Popee”): J.B. Van Hollen. Wisconsin’s Attorney General has continued to host tutorials throughout the state on Wisconsin’s openness laws and he and others in his office have written strong letters on the obligations of public officials under these laws, including calls for openness in e-mail meetings and social media. The office has also vigorously defended Wisconsin’s online state court records system against increasing attack.

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One thought on “A.G. Van Hollen quote on video: “Who wouldn’t want their citizens to know what they’re doing for them if they’re doing the right thing?”

  1. At 3:56 in the video Van Hollen claims that the Legislature exempted themselves from Open Meetings Laws, or otherwise crafted it in such a way as to have no consequences to themselves.

    But that’s not true: the Supreme Court in the case in question, Ozanne v Fitzgerald ( http://www.wicourts.gov/sc/opinion/DisplayDocument.pdf?content=pdf&seqNo=66078 , ¶8 on page 6) decided that not only did the Open Meetings Laws not have any consequences for the legislature, but that _no violation of any law whatsoever_, however constructed, could allow a court to enjoin an Act from taking effect.

    Van Hollen was the one arguing this case, it’s not possible for him to claim ignorance, he’s simply bullshitting about the authors of Wisconsin’s Open Meetings Laws to make it sound like the GOP weren’t violating them in passing Act 10. They certainly did, it’s just that there were no legal consequences for doing so.

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