Today, the Dane County Circuit Court ordered the Wisconsin Assembly’s Office of Special Counsel “not to delete or destroy any record” that could be responsive to records requests American Oversight had previously filed. The ruling came one day after American Oversight asked the court to bar OSC from continuing to delete records in its custody, a practice that the office admitted to in a letter it sent American Oversight earlier this month.
Statement from Melanie Sloan, Senior Advisor at American Oversight:
“If this investigation was above board, the Office of Special Counsel would have maintained and released records of its work required by law. Instead, it is fighting tooth and nail to hide its work from the public. This inquiry is nothing more than an attempt to prop up conspiracy theories and undermine free and fair elections.”
In its April 8 letter, the OSC stated that the office “does not retain any unnecessary documents” and instead “evaluates” whether new documents in its custody are “of use to the investigation.” OSC then “routinely deletes” documents it considers “irrelevant or useless.” Under such a policy, OSC could potentially choose to destroy evidence it obtains that contradicts its preferred conclusions.
The OSC also produced 97 pages of additional documents on April 8, which it claimed were “inadvertently” excluded from earlier record productions sent to American Oversight.
On Wednesday, April 20, American Oversight filed two motions asking the court to order OSC to stop deleting records and to consider imposing additional damages or issuing a contempt ruling.
Following Thursday’s order, Dane County Circuit Court Judge Frank Remington set a scheduling conference for Tuesday, April 26.
More information on American Oversight’s investigation is available here.