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Earlier this month, a Wisconsin professor publicly criticized the state's Republican governor for his no-holds-barred approach to union-busting. Now, he's paying the price: Wisconsin's G.O.P. is demanding copies of all emails he sent and received from his university account mentioning Republicans, unions, collective bargaining and the recall effort currently underway.

This partisan attack on University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Bill Cronon aims to intimidate and silence him - for simply speaking up against officials in power. And by directly filing the request through the university's legal office, G.O.P. officials made no attempt to hide that this was a politically-motivated demand.

Ironically, Cronon's criticism of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker compared Walker to another extremist Wisconsin politician - Senator Joe McCarthy, whose reckless crusade against Communism ruined countless lives. The G.O.P.'s response - silencing critics by invading their privacy for political gain - only makes Cronon's argument even more valid.

This isn't just about Wisconsin - this is about academic freedom all over the country. Academics shouldn't have to guard against partisan investigations of their email, calculated to discredit and intimidate them. But abusing FOIA, or federal open records law, is exactly what's happening - and it's contagious. Following the Wisconsin G.O.P.'s lead, in Michigan this week, a conservative think tank has filed a request for access to all emails about the labor movement from several prominent history professors.  

The time to stand with Cronon is now, when several G.O.P. lawmakers are facing a recall. Enough public pressure will show the G.O.P. that their abusive tactics will only hurt their cause. Stand with Cronon, the University of Wisconsin-Madison community and people everywhere to tell Wisconsin's G.O.P.: Stop attacking academic freedom!

Letter to
Executive Director, Republican Party of Wisconsin Mark Jefferson
Republican Party of Wisconsin Stephan Thompson
I'm writing to demand that Wisconsin's G.O.P. immediately drop its March 17 FOIA request for emails sent and received by University of Wisconsin-Madison professor William Cronon.

This partisan attack on University of Wisconsin-Madison professor Bill Cronon aims to intimidate and silence him - for simply speaking up against officials in power. And by directly filing the request through the university's legal office, G.O.P. officials made no attempt to hide that this was a politically-motivated demand. This abuse of FOIA, or federal open records law, is just another step toward partisan extremism in Wisconsin politics.

Ironically, Cronon's criticism of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker compared Walker to another extremist Wisconsin politician - Senator Joe McCarthy, whose reckless crusade against Communism ruined countless lives. The G.O.P.'s response - silencing critics by invading their privacy for political gain - only makes Cronon's argument even more valid.

Please immediately drop the FOIA request for Professor Cronon's emails and publicly commit to refraining from further partisan abuses of federal open records laws.