Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele is pledging to be nonpartisan and as respectful of individuals’ privacy as possible in dealing with the public release of John Doe emails in coming weeks.
The county executive’s office will soon be in possession of the thousands of documents and will need to sort through an enormous amount of data from the investigation, Abele said at a recent Milwaukee Press Club Newsmaker Luncheon.
The documents were obtained by county prosecutors in the secret investigation into aides and advisers to former County Executive Scott Walker, who ultimately was elected governor.
Abele said reviews of the documents by county staffers and independent attorneys could cost the county at least $500,000.
In May, Reserve Judge Neal Nettesheim ordered that John Doe prosecutors turn over the records seized during the investigation to Milwaukee County, which then would respond to open records requests. Nettesheim oversaw the 33-month secret investigation.
The judge ruled in response to a court filing by the Journal Sentinel, which argued the documents should be made public.
Abele said his office will try to balance the public’s right to know and reveal any misconduct with the need to protect people’s privacy.
The documents will be classified as privileged, immediately shareable or as information that lies in a gray area.
“Being the person who is responsible for determining gray area is a hot potato that nobody wants to be holding, but we will be holding it sometime soon, and we try to be as apolitical as possible,” Abele said.