Madison, WI – Today, American Oversight, represented by Democracy Forward and Pines Bach LLP, filed a brief urging the Wisconsin Court of Appeals to uphold circuit court decisions in American Oversight v. Assembly Office of the Special Counsel ordering the Wisconsin Assembly’s Office of Special Counsel (OSC) to produce investigation documents under Wisconsin’s Open Records Law.
The OSC was created by the Wisconsin State Assembly in 2021 to investigate the results of the 2020 presidential election, despite overwhelming evidence that those results were accurate. In response to American Oversight’s valid open records requests for OSC records, the OSC has asserted — and continues to assert on appeal — that it can withhold all its records from the public, even after the records have been released pursuant to court order.
Transparency and public scrutiny are vital to democracy. The rule OSC urges the Court of Appeals to adopt would harm the Wisconsin public’s ability to understand the investigation of this special counsel and future ones, and would hinder the public’s ability to assess the veracity of their conclusions. In the context of fair and free elections, this public interest is particularly paramount.
“The people of Wisconsin deserve transparency and accountability from Speaker Vos,” said Heather Sawyer, Executive Director of American Oversight. “Yet instead of accepting court rulings requiring disclosure of public records, he has chosen to drag out this legal battle and spend even more taxpayer money to dodge accountability for his sham investigation.”
“Government agencies like the Office of Special Counsel are bound by the rule of law,” said Jessica Morton, Senior Counsel at Democracy Forward. “The OSC’s investigation — despite great expense to the taxpayers of Wisconsin — has failed to uncover any credible evidence of irregularities that could have altered the outcome of the election. The OSC now doubles down on that wasteful spending through its appeal. In our filing today, we urge the Court of Appeals to uphold the lower court’s ruling that the OSC must follow Wisconsin’s Open Records Law.”
In a separate but related case, American Oversight, again represented by Democracy Forward and Pines Bach LLP, filed a suit in the Circuit Court of Dane County to stop the OSC’s standard practice of destroying public documents in violation of the state’s public records retention law. The OSC remains subject to a restraining order in that case, preventing it from continuing that practice.