Wisconsin secretary of state acknowledges mistakes, settles open records lawsuit

Jul 11, 2024 | In The News

As appeared in the Wisconsin State Journal

Wisconsin Secretary of State Sarah Godlewski is settling a lawsuit over an open records request that sought information about her appointment to the position, court documents show.

Conservative law firm Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty filed the lawsuit in Waukesha County Circuit Court last August on behalf of the conservative Institute for Reforming Government. More than five months earlier, IRG had filed a public records request for any communications regarding Godlewski’s selection as secretary of state after her predecessor, Doug La Follette, resigned just three months after winning his 12th bid for the office.

The settlement acknowledges that Godlewski should have searched for communications about her appointment in any private email accounts used to conduct official business, such as her own email and La Follette’s.

Additionally, the settlement agreement says, while Godlewski’s office had acknowledged IRG’s records request, no one ever told IRG that no records were found because the office didn’t think it was legally bound to send a response if no records were located.