Calling Wisconsin’s nonpartisan Government Accountability Board a “failed experiment,” Republican legislative leaders on Wednesday proposed splitting it into two commissions guided by partisans. They also called for a sweeping revision of state campaign finance laws, one of the board’s areas of oversight. The announcements signal an ambitious effort by GOP lawmakers to change how Wisconsin’s elections — and elected officials — are overseen. Supporters said the GAB has overstepped its authority, and the new boards would be more publicly accountable. But critics of the bill said it would return Wisconsin to the model that predated the GAB, in which election and ethics laws proved difficult to enforce under partisan oversight.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Rep. Dean Knudson announced the proposal Wednesday at the state Capitol.
Vos, R-Rochester, accused the board of a series of lapses that necessitate its dismantling, including what he called an “unconstitutional investigation” — likely a reference to the secret John Doe investigation into coordination between Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign and conservative groups during the 2012 recall.