What action can a governmental body take against a member who discloses confidential information obtained during a closed session?
If a member discloses confidential information obtained during a closed session, it is not a violation of the open meetings law. However, such behavior is understandably a matter of concern for governmental bodies and governing bodies can prohibit and establish consequences for such behavior. Some municipalities have local rules or ordinances that prohibit municipal officials from using or disclosing confidential information. Possible penalties include a fine or public censure. Where such behavior is clearly prohibited, other potential consequences for violating these local restrictions are criminal prosecution under Wis. Stat. § 946.12 for misconduct in public office or removal from office under Chapter 17 of the Wisconsin Statutes for official misconduct (see Wis. Stat. §§ 17.001, 17.12 and 17.13). (rev. 4/22)