A Republican official sued Gov. Tony Evers Tuesday over his failure to release records pertaining to the funding of farmer mental health programs.
Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, filed the lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court, and it is visible on the court records website.
Nygren co-chairs the legislature’s budget committee. Nygren made a request for these records back in August under the public records law, which allows anyone to request information pertaining to government programs and spending. He filed the request for information with both the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, and Evers, according to a statement by Nygren’s office.
DATCP provided its records, but Evers’ attorney denied the request on the basis the request was “overly broad” and “not a reasonably limited request,” according to the Associated Press.
The records were requested to assist the budget committee in its decision on whether to release $100,000 placed in the budget for mental health assistance to farmers. Nygren had requested information related to farmer mental health, mental health vouchers and DATCP’s request for the funds between July 2 and Aug. 2, according to his statement.
In 2015, Nygren and other top Republicans attempted to change the state’s open records law which would have prevented large groups records, made by lawmakers, from being available to the public, such as the ones Nygren has now requested from Evers. These changes would have allowed them to keep staff communications private, and also blocked access to files kept by the nonpartisan lawyers who write legislation.
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Last week, Evers also denied a Fox 6 reporter’s request for the release of his emails, the second instance where Republicans have been frustrated with his transparency. Evers experienced backlash from the incident when some claimed he was not following the records law.
Nygren said in a statement Tuesday that Evers and his staff are “blatantly hiding and denying public access to government documents,” and the public records law exists to grant access to what the government is doing.