- Associated Press - Thursday, October 29, 2015

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Gov. Scott Walker’s administration said Thursday that Capitol Police did not maintain records of who visited the governor’s mansion prior to the filing of an open records requests by a liberal advocacy group.

One Wisconsin Now asked in April for copies of the visitor log dating back to Nov. 5, the day after Walker won re-election. The group wanted to see who Walker was meeting with as he mulled entering the presidential race, a step he took in July.

Walker’s administration on Wednesday released visitor logs between April 8 and Aug. 26, but not those from Nov. 5 to April 7, as requested.

In an email to One Wisconsin Now sent Thursday, Walker attorney Elisabeth Winterhack said the visitor logs are transitory and not required under the law to be kept beyond the next day. She said Capitol Police happened to have the logs going back to early April so those were provided, but nothing earlier than that exists.

“Their own behavior in retaining months of these records belies their own ridiculous argument,” said One Wisconsin Now director Scot Ross.

Walker’s spokeswoman did not immediately respond to an email asking for details on why the records through Aug. 26 that were turned over to One Wisconsin Now had been kept, or whether such logs are currently being retained.

Bill Lueders, president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, said the records fall under a section of state government’s open records retention rules that call for “Calendars, schedules, diaries and/or meeting logs used to document meetings and appointments” to be retained for three years and then archived.

Lueders said it was “mind blowing” that a sitting governor who was running for president wouldn’t have records showing who visited the mansion.

“If Nixon could get in hot water over an 18 1/2-minute gap in audiotape, Walker has some serious explaining to do about the loss or purposeful destruction of five months’ worth of executive residence visitors logs,” Lueders said.

He also criticized Walker’s office for waiting six months to fulfill a request that Lueders said should have taken six hours.

The records that were released show Walker’s presidential campaign staff routinely visited the executive residence, located along the shores of Lake Mendota in the Madison enclave of Maple Bluff, in the months leading up to the July launch of his candidacy. Those regular visitors included Walker’s presidential campaign manager Rick Wiley, communications director Kirsten Kukowski and other advisers Tom Evenson, Bridget Hagerty and Mike Gallagher.

Walker turned the mansion into a “de facto campaign headquarters,” Ross said.

State law allows for the governor to meet with his campaign staff at the taxpayer-funded mansion, as long as they don’t engage in campaign fundraising there. Walker complied with the law during the visits, said his spokeswoman Jocelyn Webster.

Walker officially launched his presidential campaign on July 13 and quit on Sept. 21.

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Follow Scott Bauer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sbauerAP

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This story was corrected to show the Capitol Police, not the State Patrol, maintains visitor records and that Lueders was referring to record retention rules, not open records law.

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