State Sen. Dan Kapanke’s chief-of-staff Rose Smyrski admitted yesterday to conducting official business through a personal Yahoo email account. This is either a Palin-esqe attempt to keep official business out of the public record or glaring ignorance of public records laws on the part of Kapanke’s staff.
This came into the open due to a lawsuit by the Democratic Party of Wisconsin to obtain information regarding two forums held by Kapanke the DPW alleged to be campaign events staffed by his state funded legislative employees. A judge is about to rule in favor of the DPW in the case, saying information that Kapanke should have made publicly available was only able to be obtained through a lawsuit.
Other information requested by the DPW was said to have been deleted from state email accounts. Deleted messages are recoverable by the state IT workers for what appears to be a month, but as these events were held in April and June anything deleted is long gone. From the Post-Crescent article above;
Assistant Attorney General Jennifer Sloan Lattis, representing Kapanke, denied any nefarious motives, saying the office routinely deletes e-mail messages to keep its system from clogging.
This may very well be true. I don’t believe the Asst. Attorney General’s statement was politically motivated. She has given at least $800 to Democratic campaigns over the last 12 years. The Government Accountability board told Kapanke the events should not have been financed by his campaign but given the circumstances (change of venue due to sporting event near original venue, etc.) surrounding the events Kapanke handled the situation appropriately. These are minor and possibly forgivable missteps but the simple fact is that Kapanke used publicly paid employees to staff what clearly became campaign events.
This ordeal does not bode well for Kapanke’s 2010 congressional campaign. If his opponent is Ron Kind he will be running against the epitome of clean, open government. In the unlikely case that Smyrski’s use of a personal email account was an honest mistake, it shows ignorance on the part of Kapanke. Sen. Kapanke has the name recognition needed to do well in a race for a congressional seat, but that name recognition may now come at the cost of votes from citizens supportive of open government.