“I would be delighted to share information,” Blank wrote in an email chain to Big Ten chancellors and presidents. “(B)ut perhaps we can do this through the Big 10 portal, which will assure confidentiality?”
Bill Lueders, president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, criticized Blank on Monday for encouraging secret discussions on a topic he said is clearly in the public’s interest.
“It’s clearly illegal for her to use this backdoor channel to conduct the public’s business,” he said. “The calculation with which Chancellor Blank has tried to evade the requirements of our open records law is deeply troubling. I think she’s embarrassed the university and state of Wisconsin.”
A day after Blank’s email suggesting communications be moved to the third-party system, Schlissel said he was working with the Big Ten staff to move the conversation to the private portal.
Blank’s apology represents a reversal from what UW-Madison told the Post last week, when a spokesperson said Blank is “mindful” of her responsibilities under the records law and that the discussion in question was to “move the conversation out of a long, reply-all email string and onto the Big Ten’s secure collaboration platform.”
Blank, in her Monday statement, said she takes her public records responsibilities seriously. She noted that she regularly uses the Big Ten board portal to fulfill her responsibilities in “review(ing) proprietary information necessary for the conference to operate as a private, nonprofit entity.”