An entity that receives 90 percent of its funding from the public, is housed in a public building and conducts business that affects the community should be subject to the open meetings and public records law, an assistant attorney general told the Wisconsin Supreme Court today.

In a case involving the Beaver Dam Area Development Corp. and its secret negotiations to woo a Wal-Mart distribution center, Assistant Attorney General Monica Burket Brist disputed the quasi-governmental corporation’s claim that it was a private entity and didn’t have to tell the public when it meets or why.

“If all the negotiating is paid by the taxpayers, then public oversight ought to be given some weight, ” she said.

Burket Brist added that the law would still allow these semi-public corporations to engage in confidential negotiations with firms, but that they are not exempt from the state’s open records laws.

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