UPDATE: Vukmir releases records related to ALEC work

UPDATED Friday, April 4, 2014 --- 11:32 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Republican state Sen. Leah Vukmir has released documents related to her work with the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council.

Vukmir released the records as part of a settlement of an open records lawsuit filed by the liberal Center for Media and Democracy.

The group's attorney, Brendan Fischer, told the Wisconsin State Journal in a Friday story (http://tiny.cc/oppsdx ) that the documents provide the first evidence that an effort by ALEC to rebrand itself as being legislator-driven is "just a sham."

The records show Vukmir sponsored a model bill under the direction of a lobbying group, after voting on a policy allowing only lawmakers, and not lobbyists, to introduce model bills.

ALEC spokesman Bill Meierling says the documents are the culmination of a "yearlong witch hunt based on unfounded accusations."

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Friday, March 28, 2014 --- 12:42 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A legislator has agreed to turn over additional records from an American Legislative Exchange Conference she attended to settle a lawsuit.

The Center for Media and Democracy has asked Sen. Leah Vukmir, a Wauwatosa Republican, to turn over records from an ALEC conference she attended last spring. Vukmir handed over nine pages. CMD sued her in June, alleging she has more documents and demanding she turn them over.

The state Justice Department defended Vukmir. The agency countered that nobody can sue a sitting lawmaker while the Legislature is in session, creating a dust-up with open government advocates.

Vukmir announced Friday the center has agreed to drop the lawsuit and she agreed to turn over all the records the center wants, saying upon further review she has discovered some exist.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Wednesday, October 2, 2013 --- 3:27 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- An investigative group has asked a judge to reject a Republican state senator's arguments that's she's immune from a lawsuit demanding records from her office.

The Center for Media and Democracy has filed a lawsuit demanding Leah Vukmir turn over records from an American Legislative Exchange Council conference. The state Justice Department has countered the Wisconsin Constitution provides lawmakers immunity from civil lawsuits during the legislative session.

CMD filed a brief with Dane County Circuit Judge Ellen Berz on Monday arguing again that under DOJ's interpretation no one could sue a sitting lawmaker since the Legislature is in session year round. Recent legislative sessions have run continuously, with one session beginning the same day the last session ends.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Wednesday, September 18, 2013 --- 9:51 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A Republican state senator says she has complied with an open records request from an investigative group suing her for more documents.

Leah Vukmir released a brief statement Wednesday saying she has given the Center for Media and Democracy the records it requested and she believes in transparent government.

CMD has been pressing Vukmir for records from an American Legislative Exchange Council conference this spring. CMD attorneys say Vukmir has turned over nine pages but believe she has more.

The center filed a lawsuit in June demanding she release them. The state Justice Department has countered the Wisconsin Constitution protects lawmakers from civil suits during the legislative session.

CMD attorney Brendan Fischer maintains DOJ is interpreting the constitution too broadly and the center still believes Vukmir has more documents.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Tuesday, September 17, 2013 --- 11:06 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen says legislators aren't above the open records law but the Wisconsin Constitution clearly allows them to invoke immunity in lawsuits seeking documents.

Van Hollen, a Republican, released a statement Tuesday defending himself after his state Justice Department filed a motion arguing Sen. Leah Vukmir is immune from a Center for Media and Democracy lawsuit seeking records from an American Legislative Exchange Council conference. Van Hollen's stance stunned open records advocates.

Van Hollen says legislators must respond to public record requests as soon as possible. If a requestor chooses to sue to compel disclosure, lawmakers can invoke their constitutional protection from civil process — which is just what Vukmir did. He says he has no choice but to uphold the Constitution.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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UPDATED Friday, September 13, 2013 --- 9:35 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A Republican state senator is arguing that she can't be sued while the Legislature is in session in order to avoid turning over public records.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Friday that state Sen. Leah Vukmir is using that argument to avoid an open records lawsuit filed by the liberal Center for Media and Democracy.

The center sued Vukmir in June contended that she had violated the open records law by not turning over records related to her involvement with the American Legislative Exchange Council.

On Wednesday, the attorney general's office filed a motion on behalf of Vukmir arguing she is immune from the lawsuit.

Brendan Fischer, the attorney for the center suing Vukmir, says her position has the potential to undermine the open records law.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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Posted Thursday, September 12, 2013 --- 9:30 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A process server says a legislative aide pushed him down when he tried to serve a Republican state senator with a lawsuit.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports the Center for Media and Democracy filed a lawsuit against Sen. Leah Vukmir in June seeking American Legislative Exchange Council records.

According to court documents, Bruce Lowery tried to serve Vukmir on Sept. 3 in her Capitol office. Lowery said Vukmir aide Jason Rostan chased him, pushed him down and called him vulgar names.

Lowery's wife tried to serve Rostan the next day. Rostan held his hands behind his back and refused to accept the papers. She finally touched them to his hands and left them on a desk.

Rostan told the State Journal he followed Lowery but Lowery tripped.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press


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