Bill Osmulski is a seasoned Capitol news reporter for the John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization and news service based in Madison, Wisconsin.
As credentialed members of the Capitol press corps, Osmulski and other MacIver News Service reporters regularly have access to state legislators and other Capitol officials. However, once Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers took office in 2019, their media access became limited.
In January 2019, Osmulski and a former MacIver colleague, Matt Kittle, asked the Governor’s Office to add them to their media distribution list. The reporters soon realized something was amiss when they did not receive a response nor a single media advisory.
As a result of this exclusion over the past seven months, it has been practically impossible for the MacIver journalists to attend the vast majority of the Governor’s public events and press conferences. For example, on February 28, 2019, Osmulski and Kittle were denied access to the Governor’s “budget briefing for the media,” which was open to 26 other members of the Capitol press corps.
The MacIver Institute and Mr. Osmulski allege that the Governor’s targeted exclusion of MacIver journalists amounts to viewpoint discrimination and is a violation of the right of equal access fundamental to freedom of the press. Additionally, the Equal Protection Clause requires that a state government grant equal treatment to its citizens. In this context, it requires that all journalists have equal access to information generally available to the news media.
Now, attorneys at the Liberty Justice Center are representing the John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy and Mr. Osmulski in a lawsuit to assert their First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of the press, as well as their Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection of the laws.