Abele has willfully and actively avoided meeting his duties for so long that the Milwaukee County Board had to pass a special resolution calling on him to finally do his job.
Even then, Abele still stonewalled, saying he wouldn't do it without a court order. Then he topped it off by saying that even with a court order, he would rather have Scott Walker go through the emails and documents to decide which ones should be released (emphasis mine):
Abele suggests that if the judge decides to release records sought by the newspaper, Nettesheim should screen them to exclude ones that aren't otherwise public.On Wednesday, the Honorable Neal Nettesheim, the judge who oversaw the Walkergate investigation, gave the order for the Walkergate files to be returned to the county. But even then, Abele openly stated that he would violate open records laws by being selective on what he would release:
Or Nettesheim could turn them over to Walker "so that he could review them and provide to County Executive Abele the public records that he should have provided...when he left office," Abele's brief says.
It wasn't immediately clear how long it would take for any records to become public. An Abele spokesman, Brendan Conway, said the county "will release any records we have and that can be legally released" after redacting private information.It is not Abele's place to decide what or what cannot be released. These are public records and his job is to fulfill any open records request or to explain why he cannot.
The documents, numbering in the tens of thousands or more by one estimate, include some emails exchanged using a secret router set up in the county executive's office when Walker was county executive.
Abele's resistance to do his job only adds to the speculation that not only does he know what's in those emails and documents, but that he is trying to protect someone.
I'm not the only one raising these concerns either. Milwaukee County Supervisor John Weishan, who was one of the original whistleblowers on Walker's illegal politicking, issues a press release on Friday, raising the same questions:
Milwaukee County Supervisor John Weishan, Jr., today demanded that County Executive Chris Abele release thousands of records seized by investigators during a John Doe probe into the potentially illegal actions of staff in Gov. Scott Walker's administration as County Executive.Another concern that needs to be watched out for is that even if Abele does finally agree to do his job and release the records unedited, what is he going to try to charge for them?
A reserve judge recently ordered that John Doe prosecutors turn over the records to Milwaukee County.
Weishan said news reports indicated that Abele would release the records once they had been redacted.
"Why is Abele trying to cover up possible criminal activities of the Walker administration as County Executive?" Weishan said. "The public requires full disclosure, not redacted history. Abele should release the records without redactions. Abele has no authority to redact these records. Abele has proven to be less than honest with the public and cannot be trusted. A self-described friend of Scott Walker should not be in charge of releasing the documents."
Weishan said that Abele should make the records public immediately after receiving them. He added that staff time required to redact the records would not be a wise use of tax dollars.
"I recognize that these records make up thousands of pages, the public has a right to know what was going on under the Walker administration that triggered the John Doe," Weishan said. "Milwaukee County has only limited resources to sift through thousands of emails. The most cost-effective method is to release the documents unedited.
"What is Abele trying to hide? Abele should not help Scott Walker cover up for his misdeeds in office. He should release all the records unedited and un-redacted."
Just like Walker, Abele's good friend and mentor, Abele has a history of trying to charge astronomical rates for records that he doesn't want released.
I have a feeling that even though Judge Nettesheim has ordered the records to be released, this matter will end up being in court again to get Abele to do his job and to stop running interference for his good friend and mentor, Walker.
As Weishan asked, what is Abele trying to hide? And who is he trying to protect?
Call Abele at 414-278-4211 or email him at CountyExec@milwaukeecountywi.gov and tell him to stop protecting Walker and to do his job.