State Board Prohibits Its Employees From Doing Work Related To Climate Change

Commissioners Assert Climate Change Has No Connection With Board's Purpose

New America Foundation (CC-BY-NC-SA)

The state Board of Commissioners of Public Lands has approved a resolution to ban staff members from doing any work related to climate change while on state time.

The two Republican members of the board, Attorney General Brad Schimel and state Treasurer Matt Adamcyzk, outvoted Democratic Secretary of State Doug LaFollette in making the decision.

Adamcyzk proposed the ban after learning the board’s executive secretary, Tia Nelson — daughter of former Wisconsin Gov. Gaylord Nelson — served on former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle’s global warming task force in 2007 and 2008. He claims that Nelson did task force work on board time.

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Adamcyzk also told The Capital Times in Madison that Nelson has included information about climate change in reports to the board.

Progressive groups are now coming to Nelson’s defense.

“The Board of Commissioners of Public Lands is involved in land transactions involving property that could very well be affected by climate change. And you’d hope that in the course of their duties, a state employee would be able to use whatever language is appropriate to help them carry out those duties,” said Mike Browne of the group One Wisconsin Now.

Browne has called on Schimel to walk back what he says amounts to a “gag order” on Nelson.

But in a written statement, Schimel said he would have voted the same as to any political activity. Schimel said that however anyone may feel about climate change issues, they have no connection to the work of the state lands board.

One Wisconsin Now, in response, said it’s astounding that the attorney general would allege that a discussion of climate change by a state employee is political activity.