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Lawsuit settled over lawmakers personal e-mails used in state redistricting


MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Five Republican state legislators have settled a lawsuit which accused them of breaking the Open Records Law.

Representatives Pat Strachota of West Bend, Dan Knodl of Germantown, Tyler August of Lake Geneva, Tom Larson of Colfax, and Jeremy Thiesfeldt of Fond du Lac agreed to hand over e-mails from their personal accounts which had to do with state business.

Taxpayers will give $2,520 in legal fees to the two groups which filed the lawsuit – the Center for Media-and-Democracy and the national Common Cause organization.

The groups wanted to find out the lawmakers’ dealings with the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative group which works with businesses to draft model legislation for statehouses to consider.

The Open Records Law requires government records to be public – including communications to-and-from politicians which involve state business.

The lawsuit quoted an e-mail from Thiesfeldt asking the Exchange Council not to send communications to his tax-funded e-mail address – but rather, to his personal account.

Brennan Fischer of the Media-and-Democracy center said the groups were happy to get the records – but it was unfortunate that it took lawsuit to get it done.