MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers’ office said there is no written record of anyone authorizing one of his aides to secretly record a phone call with top Republican lawmakers.
The Democratic governor has refused to say who made the May 14 recording of a conference call between Evers, his aides and GOP legislative leaders, however he has promised that secret recordings won’t happen again.
The governor’s office responded to an open records request from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel with a brief letter saying there was no record of anyone authorizing the recording. The newspaper reported Tuesday that the letter came from Evers’ Office of Legal Counsel but was otherwise unsigned.
The letter also said Evers’ office had no other recordings of conversations with lawmakers. Republicans had worried that Evers had recordings of earlier calls.
Recording a call without at least one party’s knowledge is a felony in Wisconsin. Evers, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald have all said they were not aware of the recording. Evers later explained that the staffer recorded the call to make it easier to take notes. The staffer has not been identified.
Fitzgerald, a Republican from Juneau, said the lack of records raises questions.
“Is the governor’s office harboring someone who committed a felony? It’s clear that the governor thinks he can hide from this and that it will just go away — that’s totally unacceptable,” Fitzgerald said in a statement.
He called on Evers to “immediately make clear who recorded this call, who authorized the recording, and what discipline members of his staff are facing.”
The hourlong discussion focused on how the leaders should respond to the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s 4-3 decision striking down the Evers administration’s stay-at-home order during the coronavirus pandemic.