The state Senate’s incoming leader said Monday that he would like to take retired judges off Wisconsin’s nonpartisan elections and ethics board and replace them with political appointees. Sen. Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), who becomes Senate majority leader in January, said he believes that the state Government Accountability Board has made decisions favoring Democrats and that putting political appointees on the board would “strike more of a balance.” “GAB, it’s not working the way it’s supposed to,” Fitzgerald said. A professor specializing in election law who has studied the accountability board bemoaned the proposal. “I think that’s about the worst idea I’ve heard this year,” said Daniel Tokaji, a professor at Ohio State University Moritz College of Law who has written about Wisconsin’s accountability board.
“I’m not surprised to see a partisan politician try to wrest power from the GAB. It’s unfortunate, but not surprising,” he said.
He called the accountability board a national model, saying it does a much better job than the partisan secretaries of state who run elections in many other states.
“The umpire is a player for one of the teams” in those states, Tokaji said.
Any changes to the accountability board would have to be approved by the Legislature, which will be run by Republicans for the next two-year session.
GOP Gov. Scott Walker also would have to sign off on the changes; his spokesman, Cullen Werwie, did not say whether Walker supported them.