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Evers promises secret recording won’t happen again

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers promised Tuesday that his staff won’t secretly record his calls with Republican legislative leaders again.

An Evers staff employee recorded a May 14 call between Evers, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. The governor’s attorney, Ryan Nilsestuen, and his chief of staff, Maggie Gau, were on the call as well.

Media outlets obtained the recording this month under the state’s open-records law. The governor, Vos and Fitzgerald all said they hadn’t known the call was being recorded. Evers later explained that the staff employee recorded the call to make it easier to take notes. The employee still has not been identified.

Recording a call without at least one party’s knowledge is a felony under Wisconsin law. Vos and Fitzgerald have called the recording unprofessional and unethical, comparing Evers to former President Richard Nixon, who infamously made secret recordings in the White House.

Evers wouldn’t identify the staff employee when asked directly for his or her name during a conference call with reporters Tuesday. Instead he repeated his declaration that he wasn’t aware of the recording.

“I directed the staff to know that was improper and it will never happen again,” Evers said. “This is obviously a personnel issue and discipline issues are being handled internally.”

Nilsestuen said earlier this month that one of the parties talking on the call consented to the recording but would not say who it was. He was asked during the conference call Tuesday whether he had authorized the recording; he did not answer the question, saying the incident is “an internal personnel matter.”

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