Recently, William Cronon, a professor at the University of Wisconsin and president of the American Historical Association, published an op-ed critical of Wisconsin governor in the NYT (Wisconsin’s Radical Break).
In retaliation, the state Republican Party has filed a state-level equivalent of a FOIA request to get access to his university email account.
You can read Cronin’s response here: Abusing Open Records to Attack Academic Freedom.
Two separate questions: are the professor’s emails actually public records that are open to FOIA requests? And either way, is it good for the University of Wisconsin and for the state as a whole for politicians of either party to be able to intimidate professors who are publically critical of them?
The Republicans, for their part, claim that Cronon’s response has a “chilling” effect on political discourse that is meant to “quash” dissenting points of view, and they are shocked at Cronon’s “concerted effort to intimidate” the state party into silence. Is there anything to this?