Monday, December 7, 2015

The Politics of Privacy

By Jeff Simpson

Why do our elected politicians have no respect for our right to privacy?

If you remember, in 2011,  every person who signed the Scott Waker recall petition(and only the Scott Walker recall petition, despite there being many others - hmmmm), names and addresses were put online for everyone who supported Scott Walker to see and use for harassment, bullying and hiring processes/
For exercising their Constitutional Rights, as written in the Wisconsin Constitution, their names, addresses and phone numbers were there for the whole State of WI to do with as they may.

In 2012, the far right wing MacIver Instutute sued Senator Erpenbach to get the names of everyone who emailed him about the ACT10 Protests.  Senator Erpenbach turned over all the emails, but blacked out the identifying information of his constituents.

That was not enough for the Mcgyver crew so they sued again and surprisingly won.   Senator Erpenbach was then forced to turnover all names, email addresses etc of people who took five minutes out of their day to let their elected representatives know how they feel about the events of the day.   MacIver needed full contact information to make sure that anyone who advocated positions they disagreed with, would now live in fear for their safety and jobs.

All the while, never caring about the privacy rights of the everyday people in WI.   I am 100% for an open and honest government and completely open records.   However, people contacting their legislators, or being on a legislators mailing list, is not Government.

It is incredibly ironic, that many of the same people who are whining the loudest about money being speech and how asking for donors records was an assault on free speech rights, are the same people requesting these records and making them public.

The hypocrisy does not end there.  The Scott Walker administration keeps finding new ways to avoid Open records request and destroy documents.  Scott Walker will not even allow us to know who visits him at the Governor's mansion, mostly because they are big donors and the moneyed base.   Their privacy must be protected at all costs.

Unfortunately for the citizens of Wisconsin, the politicians trampling on your privacy rights are bi partisan in nature.

The latest attack comes from wolf in sheeps clothing Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele.

Last month, Tia Torhorst — Abele's campaign manager — asked various Milwaukee legislators, including Larson, to turn over the names and email and street addresses for the thousands of recipients of their official newsletters over the past three months.
She didn't consider her request very unusual or difficult to fill. Besides, it didn't take much time for Larson to identify the exact number of records that his staff would have to compile.
That is the problem, this is not an unusual request as politicians on both sides of the aisle have been playing games with our privacy and it is time to tell them to end it!

Edit note:  to answer the question on what I think should be released: If you send a quick email to an elected official or are on a mailing list.  

Joe Smith 
123 Main St 
Cottage Grove, WI  53527  

Now, if you are giving money to an elected official that changes the rules and more information should be given, including employer but we have seen recently that they want you to know more about the people who occasionally contact a legislator than they do people who spend thousands of dollars buying them.  


  1. Which way do you want it? I say they're all public records. Communications with constituents should be open. How else can we see who's lobbying for what?

  2. I answered in the post. Now we get private information on people who send a three line email but we get none of people who give $hundreds of thousands and the politicians go to court to protect their privacy

  3. You can't have it both ways. Obviously, if we are only making a comment, our personal information should not be shared.

  4. You can't have it both ways. Obviously, if we are only making a comment, our personal information should not be shared.

  5. Emails to a campaign are not part of government business and should not be in the public record. However, donor lists are already public information per the GAB reporting requirements. Signing a recall petition is also a matter of public record. Its interesting to note that while I signed the recall the people who created the online inquiry system MISSED me! I really do feel miffed about that.

  6. So which is it Simpson, when Kelly Rindfleich email during work hours you're outraged and want her punished. You want your public employees working when you're paying them. Then in the case of a blogger named capper or 2,100 state employee's it's just taking a little time out of their day. Hippocrate.

    1. Rindfleisch was a public official doing campaign work on on public equipment and on county time. Breaking the law, in other words. The people who's contact information is now being requested have done nothing more than subscribe to their state congressman's newsletter. That's information that Jackie Johnson (who is requesting names from my state senator) has no right to. And what the f**k is a hippocrate? Something to ship wildlife in?

    2. If Rindfleisch had sent an email because she forgot a pressing matter here and there that would be one thing,. That is not what she did, she was hired to fund raise.

      I can kind of give her a pass because no one in the state wanted Beckyforreal to have a position of power but she even abused that by sending thousands of emails and having a secret router.

      EVERYONE spend a few minutes screwing around online from an email to their spouse to checking the sports score or Kim Kardashian....

  7. Is this information being requested of all congress-critters, or just the democrats?

  8. "And what the f**k is a hippocrate? Something to ship wildlife in?"