The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), a Madison-based research and reporting group, is currently in settlement negotiations with the state attorney general's office over an open records case.
The left-leaning CMD sued Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa) for refusing to turn over documents under Wisconsin's open records law. The documents involve the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group that works with corporations and conservatives to write model legislation. The state attorney general's office is representing Vukmir and has argued lawmakers are immune from lawsuit during the two-year legislative session. Lisa Graves, the executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy, disagrees.
“We think it is quite extraordinary, as many in the open records community and press have pointed out, for the attorney general and Senator Vukmir to try and invoke such a privilege against the longstanding application of Wisconsin's open records to sitting lawmakers,” says Graves.
The two sides are currently in settlement negotiations. Meanwhile, the Guardian newspapers released ALEC documents indicating Vukmir and others were asked “to put the interests of the organization first.”
ALEC spokesman Bill Meierling says that was a draft document and it was never signed.
“There was a discussion that was proposed,” says Meierling. “It was brought by ALEC staff to the board. The board saw it and said, ‘No thank you.’”
Among other laws, ALEC promoted “stand your ground” legislation. Internal documents released by the Guardian indicate ALEC lost prominent corporate sponsors after the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida.