Separate counsel for Secretary of State Doug La Follette, as legal wrangling continues as to whether or not changes to collective bargaining for public employees are in fact law. Judge Maryann Sumi made the suggestion after Department of Justice attorneys refused to ask questions on La Follette’s behalf in Dane County Court. “I think we have a problem. I think it is perhaps time to look at the possibility of allowing, of requiring the state to provide independent counsel for Mr. La Follette,” said Sumi.
The Legislative Reference Bureau published Act 10, the changes to collective bargaining, on-line last Friday, despite a temporary restraining order from Sumi, and a letter from La Follette rescinding Friday as the official publication date. Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, who’d filed the original complaint alleging that Republicans in the legislature violated the state’s open meetings law in passing the bill, argued DOJ was not representing La Follette’s interests. “If the Secretary of State dictated that the tenth day was going to be the date of publication, then decided to say that ‘well no, I want it to be the second day,’ I don’t see how they would have an objection to him asking that it be published sooner,” said Ozanne. “You can’t have it both ways.”
But Assistant Attorney General Maria Lazar argued there’s no conflict, in having the Department of Justice represent La Follette. “The question now is the effect of that letter,” Lazar told Sumi. “And that is something that effects and impacts the office of the Secretary of State and our client. We don’t thin there’s any conflict there.”
“I believe that Mr. La Follette is entitled to independent counsel at the expense of the state, not his own personal expense,” said Sumi. “I hope that whoever’s chosen will actually listen to me and present the point of view that I and many legal scholars have, that the act has not become law,” said La Follette.