Wisconsin's Capitol

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Amazingly, Republicans and Democrats in Wisconsin's Legislature are in agreement.

Republican Robin Vos, the Assembly speaker, and Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, a Democrat, appeared together last week to announce they would not release any information on behavioral complaints involving legislators or their staffs.

They were joined by state senators as well, exhibiting an amazing willingness to embrace bipartisanship when it comes to taking care of their own.

The reason they give for denying requests first filed by the State Journal and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for copies of complaints that have been lodged against fellow members is that they want to protect the victims from embarrassment, which, in turn, they claim would discourage others from coming forward.

What hogwash. As the Beloit Daily News pointed out last week, they're assuming that the people of Wisconsin are stupid enough to believe them.

The truth is that by wrapping behavioral complaints in a veil of secrecy the legislators are giving themselves and their staffs an excuse to believe they can get away with it, confident that the public won't find out.

Plus, wouldn't victims of behavioral abuse be more likely to come forward if they had some confidence that their complaints would be taken seriously in the open, rather than face the consequences from a boss who knows no one will find out?

That the leaders of Wisconsin's Legislature would be so brazen in the wake of disclosures that members of Congress have settled behavioral complaints with secret payoffs with taxpayer money, a disclosure that has outraged American citizens, is beyond the pale.

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It's another example of public officials forgetting who it is they work for and to whom they need to answer.

Sorry. We've all been around long enough to know never to believe officials who say, "Trust us to do the right thing."

Open the records and let the light shine in.

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