Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers defended using a secret alias email to conduct public business and said he “absolutely” thought it was appropriate to black out the taxpayer-funded address so the public can’t find out what it is, saying that his secret email is “not Tony Evers. It’s whatever.”
The rambling statement was Evers’ first public comments, outside of those made by a spokesperson, on the alias email controversy that has engulfed his administration, with news coverage all over the state and even nationally.
Wisconsin Right Now first broke the story on Sunday that Evers was using the secret taxpayer-funded email account, email@example.com, and that 17,000 records exist. The governor’s office will not release the 17,000 records, saying the request is too broad.
Following an economic roundtable at Milwaukee City Hall today, @GovEvers addressed his use of an alias email address:
“This works. The system works…it is not illegal; people can still access the information they want.” pic.twitter.com/LFSDETKUQ7
— A.J. Bayatpour (@AJBayatpour) November 29, 2023
CBS 58 Milwaukee Journalist AJ Bayatpour obtained and posted the video on X, writing, “Following an economic roundtable at Milwaukee City Hall today, @GovEvers addressed his use of an alias email address.”
“We tell them yes this is not, this is not, it’s not Tony Evers. It’s whatever. Or it’s blacked out. People get this works, the system works,” Evers says in the video. At that point, he slapped down his hand.
“That’s the end of the story. It is not illegal. People can still access the information they want so that’s the bottom line.”
A reporter asked, “Blacking out the address is fine too?”
“Absolutely,” responded Evers.
However, WRN has not obtained the information we want, because we have only received a handful of the 17,000 records, and those came from the Department of Administration. We have filed a series of other open records requests to check Evers’ rhetoric that his office has supplied the records when requested.
Meanwhile, former Attorney General Brad Schimel, who is announcing a bid for the state Supreme Court on Thursday, defended the public’s right to know.
We asked Schimel about the use of the secret alias email by Evers, and he said, “The law provides that work done by public officials should be accessible to the public, and we have no business trying to conceal it through subterfuge. Public officials are absolutely entitled to private communications in our personal lives. When we are doing the work the public trusts (and pays) us to do, though, the public has a right to know about it.”
We are told Schimel did not use a secret alias email as AG.
Former Gov. Tommy Thompson has criticized the practice, saying he does not think it’s right and that he did not do it.
Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told Wisconsin Right Now he doesn’t have a secret alias email.
We have filed open records requests seeking any secret alias emails used by Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz and Attorney General Josh Kaul, who is supposed to be an enforcer of open government and public records in Wisconsin.
Gov. Scott Walker, who was constantly criticized by the media for his handling of open government issues, used an email account with his first and middle names inverted as governor.
Evers’ spokesperson has claimed he needs the secret account for “digital security” even though his “official” email address is not available on his gubernatorial website; the public is directed to a web form if people wish to contact him.
Although the Warren Spahn email did not bounce back for multiple people including WRN on Sunday night, by Monday morning news outlets were reporting that it was bouncing back.
Open government advocates have raised concerns about the practice.
It’s not clear what Evers’ secret alias email address is now.