Van Hollen: Legislator complied with records law

Attorney General's stance stuns open records advocates

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said 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 said 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 said he has no choice but to uphold the Constitution.