Walker Piles On GAB

July 20, 2015

Gov. Scott Walker added his voice to the unseemly Republican assault on the Government Accountability Board on Monday.

"It's appropriate to just get rid of it and replace it with something that's ultimately accountable and fair to the people of the state of Wisconsin," Walker said. But as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, he “didn't rule out the possibility that the judges now on the board would be replaced by partisan appointees in a replacement agency.”

Walker’s remarks are part of a grotesque attack on the Government Accountability Board in Wisconsin, which is a neutral and nonpartisan body that is overseen by a panel of retired judges.

But Walker and Republican leaders in the Wisconsin legislature have been gunning for the GAB because it was simply doing its job by working with special prosecutors in the John Doe investigation into whether Walker violated the law by coordinating with outside groups.

Last week, the state Supreme Court shut down that investigation, overruled the Wisconsin statute on coordination, and went further than the U.S. Supreme Court in allowing coordination.

After this favorable and corrupt decision, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos went so far as to call on the state Justice Department to investigate the GAB. Vos had previously vowed “to change the way the GAB operates.” He has been way over the top in his unfounded criticism of Kevin Kennedy, the director of the GAB. And Vos has said publicly that he wants elected officials to be on any revised ethics and elections board.

The co-chairs of the state's budget-writing Joint Finance Committee (JFC), State Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and State Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette) also have demanded that Kennedy resign and have engaged in guilt-by-association character assassination of Kennedy.

“Walker and these Republican leaders won’t stop until they have Kevin Kennedy’s head on a platter,” says Matt Rothschild, executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. “And they won’t be satisfied until they stack a new ethics and elections board with their own partisans.”

Ironically, it was the partisan makeup of the old Elections Board and Ethics Board that led to the Caucus Scandal of 2001 and 2002, which eventually brought convictions of the highest-ranking Democrat and Republican in the state legislature.

“Walker and Vos want to drag us back to those bad old days, where corruption ran rampant, and where the Ethics Board gave it a wink,” says Rothschild. “They want to take the teeth out of the watchdog.”