UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News) If a Wisconsin senator wins a lawsuit against her, it's possible that legislators may no longer have to provide public records from their offices. Senate Republican Leah Vukmir of Wauwatosa is trying to claim legislative immunity in a suit filed by the liberal Center for Media-and-Democracy. The group went to court to obtain records about her involvement with the American Legislative Exchange Council. The conservative group writes model legislation for states to consider. This week, the state Justice Department filed a response claiming that Vukmir is exempt from being sued for violating the Open Records Law during the entire time she's in office. That would go against previous cases in which lawmakers from both parties faced their open records suits -- either by turning over documents in question, or fighting the cases individually in court.
Plaintiffs' attorney Brendan Fischer says the state's response is quote, "pretty shocking." He says it's part of a legislator's duty to provide public records -- and to not do so undermines the public's trust in government. Vukmir is not commenting.
Steve Means of the Justice Department says the Constitution is clear on legislative immunity, saying lawmakers are not subject to civil process actions during a legislative session. Vukmir claims those sessions run the entire time of lawmaker's tenure.