"Informant" means an individual who requests confidentiality from a law enforcement agency in conjunction with providing information to that agency or, pursuant to an express promise of confidentiality by a law enforcement agency or under circumstances in which a promise of confidentiality would reasonably be implied, provides information to a law enforcement agency or, is working with a law enforcement agency to obtain information, related in any case to any of the following:
Another person who the individual or the law enforcement agency suspects has violated, is violating or will violate a federal law, a law of any state or an ordinance of any local government.
Past, present or future activities that the individual or law enforcement agency believes may violate a federal law, a law of any state or an ordinance of any local government.
If an authority that is a law enforcement agency receives a request to inspect or copy a record or portion of a record under s. 19.35 (1) (a)
that contains specific information including but not limited to a name, address, telephone number, voice recording or handwriting sample which, if disclosed, would identify an informant, the authority shall delete the portion of the record in which the information is contained or, if no portion of the record can be inspected or copied without identifying the informant, shall withhold the record unless the legal custodian of the record, designated under s. 19.33
, makes a determination, at the time that the request is made, that the public interest in allowing a person to inspect, copy or receive a copy of such identifying information outweighs the harm done to the public interest by providing such access.
(9) Records of plans or specifications for state buildings.
Records containing plans or specifications for any state-owned or state-leased building, structure or facility or any proposed state-owned or state-leased building, structure or facility are not subject to the right of inspection or copying under s. 19.35 (1)
except as the department of administration otherwise provides by rule.
(10) Employee personnel records.
Unless access is specifically authorized or required by statute, an authority shall not provide access under s. 19.35 (1)
to records containing the following information, except to an employee or the employee's representative to the extent required under s. 103.13
or to a recognized or certified collective bargaining representative to the extent required to fulfill a duty to bargain under ch. 111
or pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement under ch. 111
Information maintained, prepared, or provided by an employer concerning the home address, home electronic mail address, home telephone number, or social security number of an employee, unless the employee authorizes the authority to provide access to such information.
Information relating to the current investigation of a possible criminal offense or possible misconduct connected with employment by an employee prior to disposition of the investigation.
Information pertaining to an employee's employment examination, except an examination score if access to that score is not otherwise prohibited.
Information relating to one or more specific employees that is used by an authority or by the employer of the employees for staff management planning, including performance evaluations, judgments, or recommendations concerning future salary adjustments or other wage treatments, management bonus plans, promotions, job assignments, letters of reference, or other comments or ratings relating to employees.
(11) Records of an individual holding a local public office or a state public office.
Unless access is specifically authorized or required by statute, an authority shall not provide access under s. 19.35 (1)
to records, except to an individual to the extent required under s. 103.13
, containing information maintained, prepared, or provided by an employer concerning the home address, home electronic mail address, home telephone number, or social security number of an individual who holds a local public office or a state public office, unless the individual authorizes the authority to provide access to such information. This subsection does not apply to the home address of an individual who holds an elective public office or to the home address of an individual who, as a condition of employment, is required to reside in a specified location.
(12) Information relating to certain employees.
Unless access is specifically authorized or required by statute, an authority shall not provide access to a record prepared or provided by an employer performing work on a project to which s. 66.0903
, or 103.50
applies, or on which the employer is otherwise required to pay prevailing wages, if that record contains the name or other personally identifiable information relating to an employee of that employer, unless the employee authorizes the authority to provide access to that information. In this subsection, "personally identifiable information" does not include an employee's work classification, hours of work, or wage or benefit payments received for work on such a project.
(13) Financial identifying information.
An authority shall not provide access to personally identifiable data that contains an individual's account or customer number with a financial institution, as defined in s. 134.97 (1) (b)
, including credit card numbers, debit card numbers, checking account numbers, or draft account numbers, unless specifically required by law.
NOTE: 2003 Wis. Act 47
, which affects this section, contains extensive explanatory notes.
Sub. (2) does not require providing access to payroll records of subcontractors of a prime contractor of a public construction project. Building and Construction Trades Council v. Waunakee Community School District, 221 Wis. 2d 575
, 585 N.W.2d 726
(Ct. App. 1999), 97-3282
Production of an analog audio tape was insufficient under sub. (4) when the requester asked for examination and copying of the original digital audio tape. State ex rel. Milwaukee Police Association v. Jones, 2000 WI App 146, 237 Wis. 2d 840
, 615 N.W.2d 190
Requests for university admissions records focusing on test scores, class rank, grade point average, race, gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic background was not a request for personally identifiable information and release was not barred by federal law or public policy. That the requests would require the university to redact information from thousands of documents under s. 19.36 (6) did not essentially require the university to create new records and, as such, did not provide grounds for denying the request under under s. 19.35 (1) (L). Osborn v. Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, 2002 WI 83, 254 Wis. 2d 266
, 647 N.W.2d 158
"Investigation" in sub. (10) (b) includes only that conducted by the public authority itself as a prelude to possible employee disciplinary action. An investigation achieves its "disposition" when the authority acts to impose discipline on an employee as a result of the investigation, regardless of whether the employee elects to pursue grievance arbitration or another review mechanism that may be available. Local 2489 v. Rock County, 2004 WI App 210, 277 Wis. 2d 208
, 689 N.W.2d 644
. See also, Zellner v. Cedarburg School District, 2007 WI 53, 300 Wis. 2d 290
, 731 N.W.2d 240
Municipalities may not avoid liability under the open records law by contracting with independent contractor assessors for the collection, maintenance, and custody of property assessment records, and then directing any requester of those records to the independent contractor assessors. WIREdata, Inc. v. Village of Sussex, 2008 WI 69, 310 Wis. 2d 397
, 751 N.W.2d 736
When requests to municipalities were for electronic/digital copies of assessment records, "PDF" files were "electronic/digital" files despite the fact that the files did not have all the characteristics that the requester wished. It is not required that requesters must be given access to an authority's electronic databases to examine them, extract information from them, or copy them. Allowing requesters such direct access to the electronic databases of an authority would pose substantial risks. WIREdata, Inc. v. Village of Sussex, 2008 WI 69, 310 Wis. 2d 397
, 751 N.W.2d 736
A computerized compilation of bibliographic records is discussed in relation to copyright law; a requester is entitled to a copy of a computer tape or a printout of information on the tape. 75 Atty. Gen. 133
An exemption to the federal Freedom of Information Act was not incorporated under sub. (1). 77 Atty. Gen. 20
Sub. (7) is an exception to the public records law and should be narrowly construed. In sub. (7) "applicant" and "candidate" are synonymous. "Final candidates" are the five most qualified unless there are less than five applicants, in which case all are final candidates. 81 Atty. Gen. 37
Public access to law enforcement records. Fitzgerald. 68 MLR 705 (1985).
Rights of data subject to challenge; authority corrections. 19.365(1)(1)
Except as provided under sub. (2)
, an individual or person authorized by the individual may challenge the accuracy of a record containing personally identifiable information pertaining to the individual that is maintained by an authority if the individual is authorized to inspect the record under s. 19.35 (1) (a)
and the individual notifies the authority, in writing, of the challenge. After receiving the notice, the authority shall do one of the following:
Concur with the challenge and correct the information.
Deny the challenge, notify the individual or person authorized by the individual of the denial and allow the individual or person authorized by the individual to file a concise statement setting forth the reasons for the individual's disagreement with the disputed portion of the record. A state authority that denies a challenge shall also notify the individual or person authorized by the individual of the reasons for the denial.
This section does not apply to any of the following records:
Any record pertaining to an individual if a specific state statute or federal law governs challenges to the accuracy of the record.
History: 1991 a. 269
Enforcement and penalties. 19.37(1)
If an authority withholds a record or a part of a record or delays granting access to a record or part of a record after a written request for disclosure is made, the requester may pursue either, or both, of the alternatives under pars. (a)
The requester may bring an action for mandamus asking a court to order release of the record. The court may permit the parties or their attorneys to have access to the requested record under restrictions or protective orders as the court deems appropriate.
The requester may, in writing, request the district attorney of the county where the record is found, or request the attorney general, to bring an action for mandamus asking a court to order release of the record to the requester. The district attorney or attorney general may bring such an action.
(1m) Time for commencing action.
No action for mandamus under sub. (1)
to challenge the denial of a request for access to a record or part of a record may be commenced by any committed or incarcerated person later than 90 days after the date that the request is denied by the authority having custody of the record or part of the record.
(1n) Notice of claim. Sections 893.80
do not apply to actions commenced under this section.
Except as provided in this paragraph, the court shall award reasonable attorney fees, damages of not less than $100, and other actual costs to the requester if the requester prevails in whole or in substantial part in any action filed under sub. (1)
relating to access to a record or part of a record under s. 19.35 (1) (a)
. If the requester is a committed or incarcerated person, the requester is not entitled to any minimum amount of damages, but the court may award damages. Costs and fees shall be paid by the authority affected or the unit of government of which it is a part, or by the unit of government by which the legal custodian under s. 19.33
is employed and may not become a personal liability of any public official.
In any action filed under sub. (1)
relating to access to a record or part of a record under s. 19.35 (1) (am)
, if the court finds that the authority acted in a willful or intentional manner, the court shall award the individual actual damages sustained by the individual as a consequence of the failure.
(3) Punitive damages.
If a court finds that an authority or legal custodian under s. 19.33
has arbitrarily and capriciously denied or delayed response to a request or charged excessive fees, the court may award punitive damages to the requester.
Any authority which or legal custodian under s. 19.33
who arbitrarily and capriciously denies or delays response to a request or charges excessive fees may be required to forfeit not more than $1,000. Forfeitures under this section shall be enforced by action on behalf of the state by the attorney general or by the district attorney of any county where a violation occurs. In actions brought by the attorney general, the court shall award any forfeiture recovered together with reasonable costs to the state; and in actions brought by the district attorney, the court shall award any forfeiture recovered together with reasonable costs to the county.
A party seeking fees under sub. (2) must show that the prosecution of an action could reasonably be regarded as necessary to obtain the information and that a "causal nexus" exists between that action and the agency's surrender of the information. State ex rel. Vaughan v. Faust, 143 Wis. 2d 868
, 422 N.W.2d 898
(Ct. App. 1988).
If an agency exercises due diligence but is unable to respond timely to a records request, the plaintiff must show that a mandamus action was necessary to secure the records release to qualify for award of fees and costs under sub. (2). Racine Education Association. v. Racine Board of Education, 145 Wis. 2d 518
, 427 N.W.2d 414
(Ct. App. 1988).
Assuming sub. (1) (a) applies before mandamus is issued, the trial court retains discretion to refuse counsel's participation in an in camera inspection. Milwaukee Journal v. Call, 153 Wis. 2d 313
, 450 N.W.2d 515
(Ct. App. 1989).
If the trial court has an incomplete knowledge of the contents of the public records sought, it must conduct an in camera inspection to determine what may be disclosed following a custodian's refusal. State ex rel. Morke v. Donnelly, 155 Wis. 2d 521
, 455 N.W.2d 893
A pro se litigant is not entitled to attorney fees. State ex rel. Young v. Shaw, 165 Wis. 2d 276
, 477 N.W.2d 340
(Ct. App. 1991).
A favorable judgment or order is not a necessary condition precedent for finding that a party prevailed against an agency under sub. (2). A causal nexus must be shown between the prosecution of the mandamus action and the release of the requested information. Eau Claire Press Co. v. Gordon, 176 Wis. 2d 154
, 499 N.W.2d 918
(Ct. App. 1993).
Actions brought under the open meetings and open records laws are exempt from the notice provisions of s. 893.80 (1). Auchinleck v. Town of LaGrange, 200 Wis. 2d 585
, 547 N.W.2d 587
An inmate's right to mandamus under this section is subject to s. 801.02 (7), which requires exhaustion of administrative remedies before an action may be commenced. Moore v. Stahowiak, 212 Wis. 2d 744
, 569 N.W.2d 711
(Ct. App. 1997), 96-2547
When requests are complex, municipalities should be afforded reasonable latitude in time for their responses. An authority should not be subjected to the burden and expense of a premature public records lawsuit while it is attempting in good faith to respond, or to determine how to respond, to a request. What constitutes a reasonable time for a response by an authority depends on the nature of the request, the staff and other resources available to the authority to process the request, the extent of the request, and other related considerations. WIREdata, Inc. v. Village of Sussex, 2008 WI 69, 310 Wis. 2d 397
, 751 N.W.2d 736
The legislature did not intend to allow a record requester to control or appeal a mandamus action brought by the attorney general under sub. (1) (b). Sub. (1) outlines two distinct courses of action when a records request is denied, dictates distinct courses of action, and prescribes different remedies for each course. Nothing suggests that a requester is hiring the attorney general as a sort of private counsel to proceed with the case, or that the requester would be a named plaintiff in the case with the attorney general appearing as counsel of record when proceeding under sub. (1) (b). State v. Zien, 2008 WI App 153, 314 Wis. 2d 340
, 761 N.W.2d 15
Actual damages are the liability of the agency. Punitive damages and forfeitures can be the liability of either the agency or the legal custodian, or both. Section 895.46 (1) (a) probably provides indemnification for punitive damages assessed against a custodian, but not for forfeitures. 72 Atty. Gen. 99
Interpretation by attorney general.
Any person may request advice from the attorney general as to the applicability of this subchapter under any circumstances. The attorney general may respond to such a request.
History: 1981 c. 335
CODE OF ETHICS FOR PUBLIC
OFFICIALS AND EMPLOYEES
Declaration of policy. 19.41(1)
It is declared that high moral and ethical standards among state public officials and state employees are essential to the conduct of free government; that the legislature believes that a code of ethics for the guidance of state public officials and state employees will help them avoid conflicts between their personal interests and their public responsibilities, will improve standards of public service and will promote and strengthen the faith and confidence of the people of this state in their state public officials and state employees.
It is the intent of the legislature that in its operations the board shall protect to the fullest extent possible the rights of individuals affected.
History: 1973 c. 90
; Stats. 1973 s. 11.01; 1973 c. 334
; Stats. 1973 s. 19.41; 1977 c. 277
In this subchapter:
"Anything of value" means any money or property, favor, service, payment, advance, forbearance, loan, or promise of future employment, but does not include compensation and expenses paid by the state, fees and expenses which are permitted and reported under s. 19.56
, political contributions which are reported under ch. 11
, or hospitality extended for a purpose unrelated to state business by a person other than an organization.
"Associated", when used with reference to an organization, includes any organization in which an individual or a member of his or her immediate family is a director, officer or trustee, or owns or controls, directly or indirectly, and severally or in the aggregate, at least 10% of the outstanding equity or of which an individual or a member of his or her immediate family is an authorized representative or agent.
"Board" means the government accountability board.
"Candidate," except as otherwise provided, has the meaning given in s. 11.01 (1)
"Candidate for local public office" means any individual who files nomination papers and a declaration of candidacy under s. 8.21
or who is nominated at a caucus under s. 8.05 (1)
for the purpose of appearing on the ballot for election as a local public official or any individual who is nominated for the purpose of appearing on the ballot for election as a local public official through the write-in process or by appointment to fill a vacancy in nomination and who files a declaration of candidacy under s. 8.21
"Candidate for state public office" means any individual who files nomination papers and a declaration of candidacy under s. 8.21
or who is nominated at a caucus under s. 8.05 (1)
for the purpose of appearing on the ballot for election as a state public official or any individual who is nominated for the purpose of appearing on the ballot for election as a state public official through the write-in process or by appointment to fill a vacancy in nomination and who files a declaration of candidacy under s. 8.21
"Clearly identified," when used in reference to a communication containing a reference to a person, means one of the following:
A photograph or drawing of the person appears.
The identity of the person is apparent by unambiguous reference.
"Communication" means a message transmitted by means of a printed advertisement, billboard, handbill, sample ballot, radio or television advertisement, telephone call, or any medium that may be utilized for the purpose of disseminating or broadcasting a message, but not including a poll conducted solely for the purpose of identifying or collecting data concerning the attitudes or preferences of electors.
"Department" means the legislature, the University of Wisconsin System, any authority or public corporation created and regulated by an act of the legislature and any office, department, independent agency or legislative service agency created under ch. 13
, any technical college district or any constitutional office other than a judicial office. In the case of a district attorney, "department" means the department of administration unless the context otherwise requires.
"Elective office" means an office regularly filled by vote of the people.
"Gift" means the payment or receipt of anything of value without valuable consideration.
An individual's relative by marriage, lineal descent or adoption who receives, directly or indirectly, more than one-half of his or her support from the individual or from whom the individual receives, directly or indirectly, more than one-half of his or her support.
"Income" has the meaning given under section 61
of the internal revenue code.
"Local governmental unit" means a political subdivision of this state, a special purpose district in this state, an instrumentality or corporation of such a political subdivision or special purpose district, a combination or subunit of any of the foregoing or an instrumentality of the state and any of the foregoing.
"Local public office" means any of the following offices, except an office specified in sub. (13)