Since the early days of the Kasich administration, the governor’s office has maintained a secret contact list containing the private phone numbers and email addresses of Kasich’s staff.  Everyone from mail clerks to Kasich’s chief-of-staff are included.  The governor’s office has refused to release the latest, unredacted copy of the document.

DoNotDistributeBack in December we asked for the latest version of the internal contact list and we were provided with a heavily redacted pdf file that was stamped CONFIDENTIAL and DO NOT DISTRIBUTE.    The redactions included all of the personal phone numbers and email addresses.  No reason was given for the redactions.

When we recently asked for a version of the unredacted document, pointing out that nothing in state law excludes this information from public record disclosure requirements, we were told that the list does not “document the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, operations, or other activities of the office.”   A completely unrelated case about phone numbers in personnel records was also cited.

We received this response this Tuesday, right in the middle of Sunshine Week.

So why does Kasich’s office need a confidential list of personal contact information?  Are they using these private emails, outside of work time of course, to send each other recipes and birthday party invitations?   Or are they using their private phones and email accounts to communicate during work, and about work, with the intention of circumventing public records laws?

When Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was a county executive, his staff organized an “inner circle” of private email accounts and secret wifi networks to allow the staff to fundraise and campaign on county time.   Six people were convicted in that scandal.

Could a similar scandal be brewing in John Kasich’s office?

The mere existence of this list leads to the question: is John Kasich facilitating the use of private email accounts and phones by staffers and encouraging them to communicate outside of official channels?    And if they have nothing to hide, then why are they refusing to release the list?

Happy Sunshine Week from the Kasich Administration everyone!

Here’s a copy of the redacted document: