Republican state senators Tuesday denied the confirmations of the directors of Wisconsin’s ethics and elections commissions — and the leader of the state Senate said he hoped to remove two civil servants at those agencies next. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) said Republicans had lost faith in the Ethics Commission and Elections Commission because they continue to employ people who worked for the now-disbanded Government Accountability Board. The accountability board participated in a sweeping investigation of Republicans that was shut down in 2015 after the state Supreme Court concluded nothing illegal occurred. “I wish they’d all resign,” Fitzgerald told reporters of former accountability board employees.
… The bulk of Tuesday’s floor debate focused on Brian Bell, the director of the Ethics Commission, and Michael Haas, the director of the Elections Commission. The Senate voted to deny their confirmations on party-line, 18-13 votes.
Fitzgerald said he wants the Legislature’s budget committee to review jobs at the two commissions to find ways to cut the positions for two other employees — Nathan Judnic, counsel at the Elections Commission, and David Buerger, counsel at the Ethics Commission.
Both previously worked at the accountability board but have more job protections than Bell and Haas because they are civil servants who can be fired only for specific reasons, such as not performing their duties. Fitzgerald said he believed the budget committee could push them out by eliminating or reclassifying their jobs.