Among the big news stories of the day yesterday (sorry, Badgers), you may have missed this nugget: UW-Madison Professor William Cronon, who penned an op-ed for the New York Times last week that walked through the history of Wisconsin's public employee unions and the GOP's critical role in expanding their rights, is getting FOIA-bullied:
About a week before that [op-ed], [Cronon] wrote a blog post--the first in a new blog called Scholar as Citizen--examining just who's behind this big anti-union push. He focused on a group called ALEC (The American Legislative Exchange Council).Cronon, who says he's never been a member of a political party and often takes the conservative side in debates with his friends and colleagues, knows exactly what's the dilly, yo:
Now, so far, nothing particularly controversial about any of this. But then it took a dark turn. Or perhaps better to say, then the story got into gear with everything else we've seen out of the Walker administration over the last three months.
Less than two days after Cronon published the blog post, the Wisconsin Republican Party filed a state open records request to gain access to Cronon's personal emails to get a look at what communications or discussions or sources or anything else went into writing it.
The narrative they would like to spin about me seems pretty clear from the search terms they’ve included in their open records request. For instance, they name eleven politicians in that request. [. . .] It’s these eight names, in combination with a search for emails containing the words “Republican” and “recall,” that [WISGOP thug Stephan] Thompson is hoping he can use to prove that Bill Cronon has been engaging in illegal use of state emails to lobby for recall elections designed to defeat Republicans who voted for the Governor’s Budget Repair Bill.This is a threat against Cronon's job--as any such political activism on his part via his state-provided UW email account would be a potential violation of the law and could easily lead to Cronin's termination.
Cronon also sees a likely attempt to paint him as "a wild-eyed union ideologue completely out of touch with the true interests of the citizens and taxpayers of Wisconsin," all for a couple of fact-laden pieces of writing that call into question GOP motives and remind the GOP of how deeply it, rather than Cronon, has abandoned Wisconsin and our traditions.
Cronon, for his part, is not taking this lying down, as he clearly prefers not to be a tool for the WISGOP or facilitate their attempt to bully an enemy into silence or out of a job.
The rest of us, however, need also to be on our toes about this sort of thing. Wisconsin's Republicans are clearly not afraid of trying everything in their power to shut down their critics--whether it's literally shutting the doors of the state capital or cyber-bullying anyone who speaks out against them. All the more reason to oppose the radical GOP agenda .