Republicans have taken aim at Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board and its director and general counsel, Kevin Kennedy, over ballot redesigns and handling of elections, and last week an audit of the group added more fuel. The state’s elections agency fell short in some of its statutorily required duties, the Legislative Audit Bureau found, and did not follow its penalty schedule for enforcing campaign finance, lobbying and ethics laws. Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, used that report’s release to call for a “complete overhaul” of the GAB, which she called a “rogue agency.” Kennedy, appearing on a Sunday broadcast of the statewide TV show “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” said criticism of the GAB based on the audit was “overblown.”
He said the board was burdened with extra elections and campaign finance responsibilities because of recalls. Administrative rules were consciously put on the back burner, he said, to fulfill those duties.
“There were no outcries about how well the elections were run by state and local election officials,” Kennedy said. “There were no concerns that information wasn’t getting to the public about where money was coming from. The board was really doing a very good job. There were a number of lawsuits challenging the decisions we made during the recall; every single one of those was upheld by the court.”