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Wisconsin GOP Seeks Emails of Critical Professor

William Cronon and allies see it as academic intimidation
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 25, 2011 6:31 PM CDT
Wisconsin Republicans Seek Personal Emails Written by University of Wisconsin Professor Willian Cronon
This is a frame grab off YouTube of William Cronon.   (YouTube)

(Newser) – Wisconsin's labor fight isn't simmering down. In the latest controversy, the state GOP has demanded the personal emails of a renowned University of Wisconsin history professor who's been critical of Gov. Scott Walker's anti-union moves, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The professor is William Cronon, who first entered the fray via his personal blog and more publicly in an op-ed in the New York Times. Using the open records law, the state Republican Party has requested all emails he's written on his state university account that include terms such as "union," "Scott Walker," "collective bargaining," etc.

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Republicans apparently want to see whether Cronon violated ethics policies about university employees trying to influence political matters while on the job. Cronon denies it but sees the request (which hasn't been fulfilled yet) as an attack on academic freedom and objects to it on principle. Read his full response here. His many defenders, including Paul Krugman at his New York Times blog and Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo, agree. "It's just another example of the kind of thuggish behavior that has become the trademark of Walker's rule," writes Marshall. A GOP official counters that it's "chilling" that members of the media are so opposed to an open records request. (Read more William Cronon stories.)

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