MacIver News Service
MADISON – The Evers administration continues to deny equal press access to journalists from MacIver News Service, so attorneys for the reporters have intervened.
Since taking office in January, staffers for Gov. Tony Evers have blocked MacIver News Service journalists from attending a budget press briefing and refused to add MacIver journalists to the governor’s office press lists.
MacIver News Service has approached the administration numerous times in attempts to rectify the situation amicably, but its efforts have been ignored. On April 4, MacIver News Service hand-delivered to administration officials a letter from attorneys for the journalists, demanding that the MacIver reporters receive the same access to public press events and information as journalists from other news outlets. It’s been nearly two weeks and the Evers administration has failed to respond to or acknowledge the letter.
“It is disappointing that Gov. Evers is excluding MacIver News Service from public press briefings. Taxpayers and the public at large deserve to know what their elected officials are doing, and MacIver News Service cannot do its job if the governor bars us from press briefings,” said Brett Healy, president of the MacIver Institute. “We’re hopeful that Gov. Evers will immediately direct his staff to provide press access to our award-winning, veteran journalists and ensure that this does not happen again.
The MacIver Institute is being represented in this matter by Daniel Suhr, associate senior attorney at the public-interest law firm the Liberty Justice Center. The letter sent to the Evers administration is online here.
The letter explains how this ban violates the MacIver journalists’ First Amendment right to equal access and fair treatment as journalists. The letter states that unless Gov. Evers guarantees MacIver News Service’s access to future press events, press releases, and advisories on an equal basis with other news media, MacIver News Service and the Liberty Justice Center will be forced to move forward with litigation.
Additional comment from MacIver Institute President Brett Healy:
“Not only have the governor and his staff barred MNS from attending an important budget briefing with the press, the administration has yet to respond to MNS’s multiple requests to be added to the governor’s press release distribution list. Their silence is deafening, and their failure to open government to all is a danger to our democracy, a failure we hope isn’t part of a pattern of secrecy in media access and public records by the new administration.
“However, we will not idly sit by while our First Amendment rights are trampled on. If Gov. Evers does not correct this situation, MacIver will have no choice but to pursue legal remedies to protect our First Amendment rights.
“MacIver News Service has long been a credentialed member of the Capitol Press Corps, in good standing. MNS has always been dedicated to informing taxpayers and the public about the policy decisions that impact their pocketbooks, and their lives. MNS should have the same general access to the governor and his administration that any member of the Capitol Press Corps should expect.”
Chris Rochester is the communications director for the MacIver institute. Reposted with permission.