Groups clash over which documents are public

Controversy involves the ALEC conservative think tank

A clash between a national conservative group and a liberal Wisconsin advocacy group is raising questions about how much of the public’s business can be conducted behind closed doors.

A Wisconsin State Journal report said the controversy involves the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC. The conservative think tank writes legislation for state governments.

The group has begun using file-hosting services to exchange documents with government officials, shielding the discussions from public view.

That angers the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council. The Madison-based advocacy group said the public has a right to see any document in the government’s possession that relates to how the government does its business.

The Madison-based Center for Media and Democracy filed a lawsuit this week seeking to obtain ALEC materials from a Republican state senator.