Republicans in Wisconsin have been out to get the Government Accountability Board for a while now — and some of them believe a recent audit of the state’s unique ethics and elections agency may provide an opening. Let’s hope not. The non-partisan GAB, run by retired judges, remains the best model for supervising partisan elections and ethical behavior. The idea of handing those tasks back to the very partisans being supervised, as was the case in the past, is ridiculous. That said, the report by the Legislative Audit Bureau should be taken seriously by the GAB and its longtime executive Kevin Kennedy. The report, released last week, found that officials sometimes waited years to review whether felons had voted and did not promptly audit electronic voting equipment. The board also failed to impose late fees on candidates and political groups that hadn’t file timely campaign finance reports. Those lapses should be corrected. But here’s something else that should be corrected — the GAB’s budget. It’s been squeezed in each of the last three budgets.
… Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) claims that the report shows that the board needs to be dismantled and other Republicans have suggested a return to the bad old days when legislators supervised their own ethical behavior. “We know that the GAB routinely doesn’t follow the law and there’s no accountability whatsoever,” claimed Vos.
He’s blowing smoke. The GAB needs to improve its performance, and it needs adequate funding to do so. Vos could help with that if he was serious about improving performance. He’s not. He’s playing politics.
So, yes, fix the GAB but keep it, so citizens can keep an eye on the partisans in state government. We don’t need them guarding the hen house.