MADISON, Wis. (CN) – The Columbia County Sheriff Department must hand over an investigative report on possible illegal campaigning to the Portage Daily Register, the Wisconsin appeals court ruled.
The ruling overturns the lower court’s decision that the department had a sufficient reason not to disclose the report, as it was part of an “open and ongoing” investigation.
The report detailed the investigation of an unregistered group called Concerned Citizens of Columbia County, which made and distributed a batch of fliers attacking a candidate for Columbia County Sheriff in the months leading up to the 2006 Republican primary election.
The Portage Daily Register had asked to see a sheriff’s department report detailing its investigation of the potential illegal campaigning.
The appeals court said the newspaper has a right to see the report, since the department did not state a legally specific policy reason for withholding it from the media.