Kleefisch closes tax reform round table to public
Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, along with state Revenue Department Secretary Rick Chandler, hosted Monday’s event at Beloit College with area business leaders. A reporter for the Beloit Daily News tried to attend, but was not allowed in until the final segment an hour after the meeting began.
Walker, in a Tuesday press release, touted the Beloit round table as the first in a series around the state to “start a conversation with Wisconsinites and gather information and input from taxpayers on the real impact of Wisconsin taxes in consideration of future tax reform.”
Walker said the meetings are an “outstanding opportunity for the hardworking taxpayers to voice their opinions and offer suggestions on Wisconsin’s tax climate.”
But the Beloit event, as well as two similar ones scheduled for next week in Superior and Eau Claire, are by invite only and will not be open to the general public, said Kleefisch’s chief of staff, Casey Himebauch.
“The majority of the event is closed to the press to allow the participants to speak freely without worrying about what they have to say,” Himebauch said Wednesday. “This is just standard operating procedure.”
Kleefisch and participants in the discussion were available after the meeting, said Walker spokesman Tom Evenson.
“Future roundtables will follow the same format, and the lieutenant governor will continue to be available to the media after each event,” Evenson said.
Asked about the event at a Wednesday news conference, Walker said there will be opportunities for the “wider public” to get involved next year. He said details will be announced later.
The decision to close the meeting drew scorn from liberal activist Scot Ross, leader of the advocacy group One Wisconsin Now. The group filed an open records request to obtain a copy of video shot of the meeting by a member of Kleefisch’s staff.
The Beloit Daily News reported that Kleefisch said the video would not be made public because it was recorded for internal purposes.
“Lt. Gov. Kleefisch videotaped a meeting at which she acted in her official capacity and, along with another member of Gov. Walker’s cabinet, discussed state policy that affects every single Wisconsin resident,” Ross said. “She might be embarrassed about what she said or the ineffectiveness of the policies she’s supported, but she ought to be ashamed of her efforts to hide the open record of the event from the public.
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