Secretary of State Doug La Follette is asking the state Supreme Court to withdraw his appeal of a judge's order barring him from publishing Gov. Scott Walker's bill curbing most public sector collective bargaining, telling the court that he never asked for the appeal.
In a document filed with the high court on Wednesday, La Follette's lawyer, Roger Sage, wrote that there was a conflict of interest between La Follette and the state attorney general's office, which was representing La Follette, when the AG's office sought to appeal a March 18 order by Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi that stopped La Follette from publishing Walker's union law.
On Friday Sumi broadened the order to bar any implementation of the union law until an open meetings complaint brought by Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne gets a full hearing and certain legal questions are researched and answered.
A decision on a longer-term injunction could take as long as two months.
Last week, as it became apparent in court that La Follette disagreed with the legal advice he was receiving from the AG's office, Sumi allowed him to hire his own lawyer. In the meantime, the request to appeal the March 18 order remained before the state Supreme Court, which had received it from the Fourth District Court of Appeals.
Sage wrote that the conflict of interest existed when the AG's office asked for permission to appeal on March 21 and it still exists. In La Follette's opinion, Sage wrote, the arguments made by the AG's office in its appeal conflict with the "constitutional and statutory responsibilities, mandates, duties and prerogatives of the Office of Secretary of State."
He added that La Follette was not consulted before the appeal was filed.
Bill Cosh, state Department of Justice spokesman, declined to comment on the motion.
Four Republican state legislative leaders are also named as defendants in Ozanne's open meetings lawsuit, but they are asserting legislative immunity, preventing them from being sued. The AG's office continues to represent their interests in the case.