Governor, GOP leaders at odds over recording a COVID-19 meeting

Republican lawmakers are fuming after they learned a member of Governor Tony Evers staff recorded a meeting about the ongoing health crisis without their knowledge calling it “Nixonesque” and “shameful.”

The meeting on May 14th was arranged to talk about the next steps after the Supreme Court struckdown Wisconsin’s 'Safer at Home' order leaving local governments scrambling trying to issue their own restrictions. 

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald were on the call with Governor Evers who said he was not aware it was being recorded. When asked why he wasn’t aware his staff made a recording, Evers said he was in another room.  

“How did I not know? Because I didn’t know,” said Evers. 

The move is not illegal under state law which allows individuals to record conversations as long as one person is aware it’s happening yet Republican leaders called the move a breach of trust and unethical.

“This decision by Governor Evers and his staff is unprecedented and clearly outside the norm,” Vos said in a statement. He adds the governor “dragged partisan politics to a new low in Wisconsin and damaged his reputation and the state's, as well.”

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald compared Evers to Richard Nixon.

“In 26 years in the Legislature, this is one of the most brazen examples of unethical, unprofessional conduct I have ever seen. The governor has gone so far off the deep end, he’s making secret Nixonesque recordings from the East Wing of the Capitol,” Sen. Fitzgerald wrote in a statement.

Governor Evers spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff said in a statement the reason for the recording was “intended for internal use only to inform detailed note taking and planning next steps. It goes on to say it “was not intended for release to the media or anyone else, however, we were obligated to comply with the open records law to release these records once they were requested.”

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