Monday, February 13, 2012

By refusing to release documents, state GOP continues to keep us in the dark

Republicans refuse to adhere to court order, keep 84 redistricting documents hidden from the public

The Journal Sentinel reported on Monday that Republican lawmakers are attempting to keep hidden 84 documents relating to the redistricting bill that passed earlier this year, despite a court ruling ordering them to release those documents.

Citing attorney-client privilege, Republicans are attempting to keep this information out of the public's eyes -- this, following revelation last week of another document that essentially told lawmakers dealing with the redistricting bill that what they heard their leaders say in public wasn't necessarily what the bill would eventually entail.

The attorney-client privilege is indeed an important one to keep private. No one is disputing that fact. But a judge has already ruled that the documents' importance to the public supersede that privilege, and that the Republicans (and their lawyers) must make them public immediately.

The Republicans have every right to dispute that ruling -- that is the way our courts work in a democracy, after all. Yet there's something telling in the fact that they refuse to go along with the order.

What is it exactly that they're trying to hide? What could be in those documents that isn't already public knowledge, that's potentially worse than the document that was released last week? These are the questions that have no answers, at least until the documents are put out into the light.

And those are the questions that are destructive to the democratic process itself. We already know that Republicans were hiding things before, telling the public one thing while legislating in an entirely different direction.

Keeping their constituents in the dark about what was really going on is bad enough. Refusing to release documents that a court has already ordered should be revealed indicates not only that the Republicans choose to behave in a discrete manner, but that they also don't care what you think once that fact has already been exposed.

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