On Monday, Gov. Scott Walker piled on with the other Republicans who are attacking the state Government Accountability Board, arguing that it should be replaced by something more accountable. The GAB is the nonpartisan state elections and ethics watchdog agency Republicans are mad at because it did its job and dared investigate Walker’s election campaign. What some of these Republicans really mean by “more accountable” is more subservient to their partisan interests. What these folks would love to do with this watchdog is pull all its teeth and keep it on a very short leash. The people of Wisconsin should tell their legislators that’s unacceptable, just as citizens did a couple of weeks ago when 12 GOP legislators tried to shut down public access to certain records.
To be sure, the GAB isn’t perfect, as an audit last year showed. But the answer is to fix the agency and give it the resources it needs to do its job, not shut it down and replace it with a group of partisans who would report to their masters in the Legislature, as some have suggested.
In arguing for replacement, Walker didn’t rule out the possibility that the judges now on the board would be replaced by partisan appointees in a replacement agency. “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 Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) had the clearer vision on motive here: “Clearly they want to have not election watchdogs. They want to have election lap dogs,” Barca said.