The Backdrop on the GAB Battle
by Matthew Rothschild, Executive Director
July 27, 2015
Every day, there seems to be a new Republican attack on the Government Accountability Board. Today, in the Wisconsin State Journal, even former State Senator Mike Ellis, who championed its creation in 2007, took a shot at it.
And poor Kevin Kennedy, the director of the GAB, has faced more unfounded character assassination than anyone in Wisconsin since the days of Joe McCarthy.
At least Judge John Gerald Nichol, who is on the GAB board, defended Kennedy on “UpFront with Mike Gousha” yesterday. And Nichol stood up for basic good government when he said: "You have these outside groups with scads of money, looking to spend it on candidates and on issues; it should be transparent and people should be accountable.”
But that’s the point. Republican leaders like Scott Walker and Robin Vos and Scott Fitzgerald don’t want transparency and accountability. They, and the reactionary justices on the Wisconsin State Supreme Court, want as much secret money as possible to flow into our political campaigns.
In a fundamental sense, they are assaulting democracy itself.
They don’t want one person, one vote. They want the wealthiest people in the country, and corporations, to have a disproportionate influence. And they have gerrymandered the state so that their own voters have a much greater say than anyone else’s.
And they want to operate in the dark. That’s why they’ve already proposed less disclosure of campaign contributions, including a provision to no longer require donors to disclose where they work.
And to the extent that there is oversight, they want it to be something they can control in a partisan fashion. That’s why they tried to get rid of the Legislative Audit Bureau and replace it with a system where partisan legislative leaders appoint inspectors general to poke around in every major department.
And that’s why they’re trying to destroy the Government Accountability Board right now and replace it with a partisan board.
These are not isolated incidents.
They are integral parts of an unprecedented power grab – and an unprecedented attempt to undermine democracy in Wisconsin.