The head of the state’s elections board has urged legislative leaders to slow down their plans to overhaul the agency, but top GOP lawmakers say they will unveil their restructuring plans next week. Gerald Nichol, chairman of the Government Accountability Board, in a letter to lawmakers raised concerns about restructuring the board 13 months before the high-turnout presidential election. His request to slow down fell on deaf ears. On Wednesday, aides to Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said they reached a deal on the matter. They declined to provide details, saying they would make their plans public next week. The leaders discussed the plan briefly with GOP Gov. Scott Walker. Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick said in an email Walker “looks forward to working with them to find a replacement that is fair, transparent, and accountable to Wisconsinites.”
Republicans have called for reforming an agency that they contend has been unfair to their party. Nichol denied that in his letter, writing the board “makes its own decisions guided by the law, not partisan politics.”
The board of six former judges is responsible for running elections and overseeing campaign finance, ethics and lobbying laws. Legislators overwhelmingly voted to create the board in 2007, with only two lawmakers — both Democrats — dissenting.
It has come under fire in part because of its role in an investigation into whether Walker and conservative groups violated campaign finance laws by working together in recall elections. The state Supreme Court this summer ended the probe, ruling the activity in question wasn’t illegal because candidates and issue groups can coordinate their activities.