Gov. Scott Walker has called for the dissolution of Wisconsin’s nonpartisan elections and campaign finance agency, but the Government Accountability Board’s director said that’s a “short-sighted” opinion. Kevin Kennedy also said in an interview on WKOW-TV’s “Capitol City Sunday” that recent suggestions that his agency teamed with the Internal Revenue Service to investigate conservative groups were “absolutely ridiculous.” The GAB has been the target of scorn from Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, who specifically has mentioned ousting Kennedy as a goal. Vos and other Republicans have been critical of the GAB’s role in the John Doe investigations into alleged campaign finance coordination between Walker’s 2012 recall campaign and an outside advocacy group.
Articles about voting issues in Wisconsin.
Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin said on Monday that he wanted to eliminate the state’s Government Accountability Board, a nonpartisan agency that oversees elections, ethics, campaign finance and lobbying. In 2012, the board voted unanimously to approve an election to recall Mr. Walker, the first governor in the state’s history to face such a challenge, and it later authorized an investigation into allegations of violations by the governor’s campaign in that election. Mr. Walker would replace the board with “something completely new that is truly accountable to the people of the state of Wisconsin,” he told reporters after a bill-signing ceremony.
Wisconsin: GOP hopeful Scott Walker calls for dismantling of state elections board | Chicago Tribune
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Monday called for the dismantling of an independent state agency that oversees elections and that authorized an investigation into his 2012 recall campaign. Walker, who launched his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination last week, told reporters following a bill signing ceremony in Oshkosh that he wanted to scrap the Government Accountability Board and replace it with “something completely new that is truly accountable to the people of the state of Wisconsin.” Walker also called for an investigation into the board’s activities. He did not say who should lead the investigation. Walker’s comments come just four days after the state Supreme Court halted a board-approved investigation into whether conservative groups illegally coordinated with Walker’s 2012 recall campaign, saying the groups broke no laws. Republican state lawmakers have been talking for months about reshaping the board, and the Supreme Court’s ruling has only bolstered the calls for change.
Presidential candidate Scott Walker won a major legal victory Thursday when Wisconsin’s Supreme Court ended a secret investigation into whether the Republican’s gubernatorial campaign illegally coordinated with conservative groups during the 2012 recall election. No one has been charged in the so-called John Doe probe, Wisconsin’s version of a grand jury investigation in which information is tightly controlled, but questions about the investigation have dogged Walker for months. Barring an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, the ruling makes Walker’s campaign that much smoother as he courts voters in early primary states.
Just days after Scott Walker officially kicked off his presidential bid, the Wisconsin Supreme Court was set to announce Thursday whether investigators can resume a wide-ranging and secret probe into alleged election law violations during the Republican governor’s 2012 recall campaign. At issue is whether Walker’s campaign and several conservative groups illegally coordinated their activities during the recall, which was spurred by Democratic anger over Walker’s successful drive to effectively end collective bargaining for most public workers. Walker and the groups have denied any wrongdoing and called the probe a violation of their free-speech rights.
Now that the Wisconsin Legislature has wrapped up its budget work, Republican leaders are setting their sights on a new goal — overhauling the state’s Government Accountability Board. It’s the non-partisan board tasked with overseeing elections and political ethics. Its leader, Kevin Kennedy, has have come under fire recently after redesigning the ballot – some believe it gave Democrats an advantage, and for approving a John Doe investigation into Gov. Walker’s 2012 recall campaign. An anonymous article in the Wall Street Journal is prompting renewed calls for change.
Key Assembly Republicans renewed their call Friday for overhauling the state’s elections and ethics board after The Wall Street Journal reported the agency had been in touch with the Internal Revenue Service as it investigated conservative groups. “Nothing should be more important than free speech and it’s outrageous that there’s a coordinated effort to undermine this basic constitutional right,” said a joint statement issued by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Rep. Dean Knudson (R-Hudson). “Now that the state budget is complete, it’s time to double down on finalizing the necessary reforms for the (Government Accountability Board) so the bill can be ready for consideration this fall. Those reforms will include a means to change the way the GAB operates. The agency leadership needs to be accountable to the GAB board and the board needs to be accountable to the Legislature and the citizens of Wisconsin.”
Wisconsin: Democrats sue state election officials over 2011 redistricting | Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal
A dozen Democrats sued election officials Wednesday over legislative maps Republicans drew in 2011 that helped give them a firm grip on state government. The lawsuit comes two years after a panel of three federal judges in separate litigation redrew two Assembly districts and blasted GOP lawmakers for drawing the maps in secret. That panel found the two districts on Milwaukee’s south side violated the voting rights of Latinos, but it upheld all the other legislative maps, allowing Republicans to keep their advantage in elections. The new lawsuit seeks to change that by arguing the maps are so partisan as to be unconstitutional. “This case we hope will be the election law equivalent of Brown v. Board of Education,” said Milwaukee attorney Peter Earle, referring to the landmark school desegregation case. “We will establish a national standard that can be used reliably into the future.”
Wisconsin: Voters file federal suit over ‘one of the worst partisan gerrymanders in modern history’ | Wisconsin Gazette
Wisconsin voters want a federal court to throw out the state Assembly district map, alleging the line‐drawing process “secretive” and “partisan” and the maps unconstitutional for overly advantaging one party. “My rights as a voter are being violated,” retired university professor Bill Whitford, one of the plaintiffs, stated. “If my vote counted as much as each one of my fellow citizens, I would be able to affect the shape of the Legislature. But I can’t, because they’ve decided through these maps that I simply don’t count.” The lawsuit, Whitford v Nichols, argues the current map is one of the “worst partisan gerrymanders in modern American history.”
Gov. Scott Walker announced over the weekend that Republicans were abandoning their plan to create new exceptions to the state’s open records law, but for months the all-but-certain presidential candidate has been operating as if one exemption already was in place. Two months ago, Walker declined to release records related to his proposal to rewrite the University of Wisconsin System’s mission statement and erase the Wisconsin Idea from state law. He argued he didn’t have to provide those records to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and others because they were part of his office’s internal deliberations. The Progressive magazine and the liberal Center for Media and Democracy sued Walker over those denials. The cases have been combined, and the litigation is pending in Dane County Circuit Court.