Wisconsin Gov. Warren Spahn AKA Tony Evers, if you’re hiding nothing in your “alias” emails, prove it.
Release the emails.
All 17,000 records, according to your own estimate.
Because right now you’re refusing to, and the rest is just white noise.
If Assembly Speaker Robin Vos was using a secret “unofficial public” (oxymoron there) email account in Babe Ruth’s name, the media would go wild. If U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) was secretly communicating as Robin Yount, the media would jump off a cliff.
In case you missed it, we broke the news, through an open records request after a tip from a former state worker, that Wisconsin’s governor was using an alias email to community with state workers via taxpayer-funded email in the name of Warren Spahn, a deceased baseball legend. Evers later confirmed that was accurate, but he won’t release any of the records.
The media did go wild about former Republican Scott Walker’s emails and router years ago (for months and months) but are now trying to bail Evers out by saying, but “Walker did it too” (their new favorite refrain.) It’s hysterical the media are now propping Walker up as a paragon of open government virtue when they trolled him endlessly over it! He used a fake account, so move on, we only care about open government until we don’t. In fairness, some of the media accounts are fairer than others. But the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s story really took the cake.
There was even a criminal investigation into Walker’s county emails! But now Walker’s email habits are a “bipartisan practice,” according to Tyler Katzenberger, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s “misinformation reporter,” so that makes it okay for Evers to have an “alias email account” in a real person’s name.
The media even tried to soften the blow by dubbing Evers’ alter ego account as an “alternate” email.
They did the same thing with the parole issue. Oh well, some liberal Wisconsin news outlets argued, so what if Evers’ appointee released some of the most brutal killers in state history without victims’ families being told, because Walker’s appointee released some killers too! (No mention of the fact that Walker’s appointee released less serious offenders and at a slower rate.) By the way, Walker is no longer governor. He inverted his first and middle name in his “alias” account; also not a great practice. But he didn’t take the name of a baseball god.
Maybe it’s just bad to release brutal killers no matter who is doing it. Maybe it’s not a great idea to co-opt the name of a dead baseball player or other persona to do public business. No matter who is doing it.
The media’s tone is completely different when it comes to Evers, at least some of them. Everyone can see it. The spin is different. That’s especially true of the liberal Milwaukee and Madison newspapers. They seem to focus their reportorial weight on bailing Evers out and making excuses for him. It’s all in the frame at the top. So predictable!
AG Brad Schimel advised against this alias email practice years back. Evers did it anyway. Democratic AG Josh Kaul won’t comment. Does he have an alias account? For the love of God, please don’t let it be Mickey Mantle.
Here’s the bottom line. You either stand for open records laws and open government or you don’t. We are consistent. One of these authors was publicly critical of Walker for his circumvention of open records laws at the time. We liked a lot he did, but not that. Open government is a critical safeguard of our freedoms.
A big problem with this alias email practice is that the public and media wouldn’t know the email account exists to request anything from it. And our tax dollars are paying for it, and it’s OUR government.
Evers claims they turned over all pertinent emails over the years to open records requesters.
We hope that’s true. We sincerely do. But there is zero chance the media would just take a Republican politician’s word for it.
The media should check his rhetoric. That’s what journalists do. We have filed new open records requests to do so. So has the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty. Maybe the media have. Maybe they will surprise us. Some probably will.
- The fact is, that out of approximately 17,000 records, Evers has released only a handful, and they came from DOA, not the governor’s office.
- The fact is he told Fox 6 in 2020 that he barely sent emails – yet they now say there are about 17,000 to/from the account, possibly including attachments.
- The fact is that no one knows when he stopped using it (but multiple of our readers wrote it last night with no bounce back, as did WRN’s Jim Piwowarczyk and WISN 1130’s Dan O’Donnell.)
- The fact is the governor’s office and DOA took two months to respond and then did so the day before Thanksgiving.
- The fact is their reasons for Evers using it have shifted slightly (from efficiency to security).
- The fact is they told us they couldn’t release the email name and then confirmed it was Evers’ when questioned by the AP.
- The fact is they told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel it’s been inactive for years; then why did DOA tell us on Nov. 22, 2023, that the secret email address had to be redacted so Evers could communicate and do his job efficiently? Make that one make sense.
- The fact is DOA arbitrarily changed the time frame of our open records request.
- The fact is that the DOA redacted the secret email name and claimed the public has no right to know it.
That all raises concern, but this is the crux of the matter:
Where the rubber meets the road is whether Evers has been complying with open records laws and whether he complied with the judicial order in the 2020 case in which a judge ordered him to turn over all of his emails to Fox 6 for a certain time frame. Fox 6 won’t say. We asked.
If he has nothing to hide, we are calling on Evers to:
- Release all of the Warren Spahn emails online or at least to the media.
- Release all open records requests received for his emails or communications on topics discussed in the emails.
- Release his open records responses to those requests.
Let the public compare them.
And bring back Walker’s public records tracking website that you scrapped, Gov. Evers/Spahn.
If there is nothing to hide, why not?
Check the rhetoric. We will. Will they?
Release the emails.