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DOJ gives up on open records lawsuit

Madison (AP) – The state Justice Department has agreed to throw out a lawsuit against a state legislator accused of violating Wisconsin’s open records law.
Former Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager, a Democrat, filed the lawsuit last year against Rep. Jeff Stone, R-Greendale. The lawsuit claimed Stone shared a plan that would have changed the Milwaukee airport’s governance structure with business interests but wouldn’t give it to a county supervisor who opposed the idea.
Online court records show Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Richard Sankovitz ordered the case dismissed Wednesday.
A spokesman for current Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, a Republican, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper the Justice Department decided not to pursue the case after a judge threw out a similar open records case against two other state lawmakers in June.
Lautenschlager had sued Rep. Scott Gunderson, R-Waterford, and Sen. Dave Zien, R-Eau Claire, accusing them of violating the state’s open record law by sharing the draft of a bill legalizing concealed weapons with the National Rifle Association but refusing to turn the draft over to her office.
Dane County Circuit Judge David Flanagan ruled drafts aren’t public records even when shared with lobbyists.
The lawmakers racked up nearly $400,000 in legal bills defending themselves –fees covered by taxpayers.
A message The Associated Press left Thursday for Justice spokesman Kevin St. John seeking more details wasn’t immediately returned.

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