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Wisconsin Assembly appeals loss in open records case

July 14, 2021 GMT

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Assembly is appealing a ruling that it violated the state open records law by refusing to release documents related to sexual harassment allegations against a former lawmaker.

The Assembly filed its notice of appeal to the June 30 ruling on Tuesday.

Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas ruled in favor of The Associated Press, the Wisconsin State Journal, The Capital Times and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in the case that was filed in March 2020.

The news outlets sued after then-Assembly Chief Clerk Pat Fuller denied their open records requests seeking copies of the complaint against then-state Rep. Staush Gruszynski as well as documents related to the investigation.

Colas ruled that Assembly leaders misapplied a balancing test, erroneously finding that the complainant’s privacy outweighed the public’s interest in the documents.

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Colas ordered Assembly leaders to release unredacted versions of the documents, which did not happen before the appeal was filed.

Gruszynski, a Democrat, represented Green Bay in 2019. A legislative employee alleged that he sexually harassed her that October at a Madison bar. The news outlets filed their requests for the documents that December.