Wisconsin AG candidate Ryan Owens later pulled out of the race over the issue.
UW-Madison now says the missing podcast that former state Attorney General candidate Ryan Owens recorded with notorious never Trumper Charlie Sykes is “not recoverable.”
“The College of Letters & Science continues to look into the deletion of the fourth podcast (with Sykes) and will take appropriate action in accordance with university policies and procedures governing retention of university records,” university spokesman Greg Bump told Wisconsin Right Now on October 14.
We asked what possible action was on the table, and Bump responded, “While we’re continuing to look into this, the statement is all the information we can share at this point.”
Last month, we broke the news that four 2019 podcasts featuring Owens, a political science professor, were mysteriously deleted from the UW-Madison Tommy Thompson Center’s website and Soundcloud account. Owens was the center’s director before he announced his bid for AG. Center Director Professor Alexander Tahk told Wisconsin Right Now at the time that he located three of the podcasts on an internal shared server but couldn’t find the Charlie Sykes podcast Owens recorded.
Conservative talk radio and other media then picked up the Wisconsin Right Now story on the missing podcasts, and Owens later pulled out of the race over the issue. He blamed “disgusting” politics in a news release at the time and said some people he didn’t name were making “false” claims. He never clarified who he was talking about or which claims were false.
We discovered the podcasts were missing while trying to better understand Owens’ views on the issues after controversy ensued over his COVID-19 comments on Gov. Evers in another podcast.
Wisconsin Right Now filed several open records requests on this matter. Today we received a response from UW-Madison officials who now confirm the Charlie Sykes podcast was deleted and is “not recoverable.” It can be a crime in some circumstances to destroy a public record, although it requires intent to defraud or injure.
Here’s UW-Madison’s full response:
When the university was alerted that four podcasts had been removed from a publicly accessible webpage, three of the episodes were able to be recovered and posted. The university made several attempts to recover the final podcast episode in question, including contacting external platforms where the file had been shared, but the file had been deleted and was not recoverable. University records retention policy does not require records to be posted publicly; however, it does require certain records to be retained by the university for specific time periods according to approved records schedules. The College of Letters & Science continues to look into the deletion of the fourth podcast and will take appropriate action in accordance with university policies and procedures governing retention of university records
We previously wrote about the contents of the other three missing podcasts, which were recovered previously. In one of those deleted podcasts, Owens said a “potential coverup here is ongoing” by President Donald Trump and his administration regarding the Ukraine call that provoked Trump’s impeachment.
Owens was way ahead in fundraising at the time he dropped out. The other Republican candidate in the race to square off against incumbent Josh Kaul is Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney.