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Appeals court orders Erpenbach to release names in Act 10 emails

WAUKESHA, WI (WTAQ) - A state appeals court says Senate Democrat Jon Erpenbach must release the names of those who e-mailed him about his opposition to the limits on public union bargaining.

The 26,000 e-mails were sent around the time of the emotional protests to Act 10, just before the law was passed by majority Republicans in 2011.

Erpenbach, of Middleton, said he used the balancing test under the state Open Records Law and decided that many who wrote to him would face retaliation if their names became known. So he released the e-mails but blacked out the senders' names and addresses.  

The conservative MacIver Institute filed sut, saying the public has a right to know if the writers used government computers and work time to protest the union law.

Grant County Circuit Judge Robert VanDeHey sided with Erpenbach and said it was "questionable" whether public workers did anything illegal.

Wednesday, the Second District Appellate Court in Waukesha disagreed with the ruling. The court also said taxpayers must cover the MacIver Institute's legal costs in bringing the lawsuit.  

Before today, the case had cost taxpayers around $140,000. That's because Erpenbach used private lawyers for his defense.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)