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MacIver's Request for Cost and Time Spent on Doe Denied

Comments | Posted in News | By MacIverNews | Posted March 5, 2013 6:00 AM

MacIver News Service | March 5, 2013

[Milwaukee, Wisc...] The Milwaukee County District Attorney's office recently denied the MacIver News Service's open records request for the "total number of hours employees spent working on the John Doe investigation," because, they assert, no such document exists.

Deputy District Attorney James Martin told the MacIver Institute that the DA's office could not provide the information requested because under open records law, their office is not required "create a new record for your benefit."

"The public records law 'does not require an authority to create a new record by extracting information from existing records and compiling the information in a new format,'" Martin wrote.

Martin continued in his letter to state that the Milwaukee County DA's office says it does not keep an official tally of the number of man-hours spent on specific cases. This included the nearly three-year long John Doe Investigation, which was mired in controversy and press leaks and failed to produce charges against Scott Walker, the current governor and former Milwaukee County executive who many believed to be the ultimate target of the probe.

"State and county employees in the Milwaukee County district attorney's office do not keep time records for work done on a particular investigation or prosecution."

The office does not keep track of its employees' time and does not keep track of the expenses an individual investigation is accumulating.

Martin went on to write, "Likewise, the district attorney's office does not charge operating expenses in the county accounting and purchasing system to a particular investigation or prosecution."

Based on this statement, the total cost of the unsuccessful John Doe probe into any wrongdoing by Walker may never be known.

Following the denial of this open records request, MNS has since asked the DA's office if it knows the total cost of the investigation. The office has not yet responded to that request.

While the investigation failed to produce any compelling evidence of wrongdoing by the governor, charges were filed against six other individuals.

District Attorney Chisholm, a Democrat, launched the John Doe Investigation on May 7, 2010, while then County Executive Walker was campaigning for Governor. The investigation began at the request of Walker when his office discovered financial inconsistencies in a Milwaukee County event for veterans.

The DA's office then continued to investigate the County Executive's office, seemingly looking for a connection to Walker. Despite public criticism from the governor's supporters, Chisholm continued the investigation for almost three years. The case was officially closed by an appeals court judge on February 21, 2013.