The state elections board’s employees have personal political views but they don’t make any decisions, the board’s director said Tuesday as he tries to stave off Republican lawmakers’ plans to restructure the agency. Conservatives’ calls to overhaul the Government Accountability Board have grown louder following a newspaper story Thursday detailing a former staff attorney’s emails. The messages offered encouragement to an investigator looking into whether Gov. Scott Walker’s recall campaign illegally coordinated with outside conservative groups. The GAB consists of six retired judges appointed by the governor and their employees.
The agency oversees the application, implementation and enforcement of election, ethics and campaign finance laws. Board Director Kevin Kennedy told reporters during a break in a meeting that his employees are human and vote. But only he and the board’s members make the final decisions and he works hard to ensure his staff’s personal views don’t influence the process.
“To expect they’ll be devoid of any outside views is unrealistic,” Kennedy said. “It’s our job to make sure they don’t get in the way of decision-making.'”
Republican lawmakers are gearing up to overhaul the nonpartisan board, and considering having partisan appointees to serve alongside the judges. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, has called for Kennedy to be replaced as well, but no one has proposed any legislation yet.