The embattled leaders of the Wisconsin agencies that run elections and enforce ethics laws are engaging in a public relations campaign to save their jobs, with a torrent of tweets, media interviews and personal letters to lawmakers offering examples of their nonpartisan credentials. The push comes before an expected state Senate vote Tuesday to reject the confirmations of Elections Commission administrator Michael Haas and Ethics Commission leader Brian Bell. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says Republicans have lost confidence in their ability to act fairly because they both worked for the now-disbanded Government Accountability Board.
Republicans contend that the board, which was run by retired judges, unfairly targeted Gov. Scott Walker and other conservatives with a secret John Doe investigation that went on for years before the Wisconsin Supreme Court ended it in 2015, saying nothing illegal had happened.
That argument was re-ignited last month when Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel released his report into who leaked information collected during the probe to a newspaper. He didn’t determine who did it, but said the information came from the GAB, leading to calls from Fitzgerald and other Republican lawmakers for Bell and Haas to go.