It is becoming a troubling trend. Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has not exactly been transparent when it comes to the release of public documents. Evers has come under fire a number of times since he took office for refusing to release public documents that have been requested by journalists and others. The latest case involves State Rep. John Nygren who chairs the Legislature’s budget writing committee. He requested copies of the Governor’s emails that had to do with mental health funding for farmers. Nygren requested the emails back in August from both the Department of Agriculture, as well as from Governor Evers. The Ag department quickly complied, while Evers denied the request in total, saying the request was overly broad. Nygren filed a lawsuit against the Governor back in November, and the courts have now ruled that the documents requested are a matter of public record. In addition to having to provide the documents, Evers is also being ordered to pay a $40,000 fine. If the Governor thought the request for records was too broad, he could have contacted Nygren. Instead, he stonewalled, and lost. But still, Evers isn’t willing to say he did anything wrong. He said he is choosing to settle the legal battle so as not to distract from the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. That is a weak argument. The fact is, Evers has a poor history of complying with the state’s open records law. As the state’s top executive, that sends a message to state departments and members of his administration that it is ok not to follow the law. Evers needs to take the lead and follow the state’s long history of ensuring that matters of public record are made available to the public.