Scott Walker

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Wisconsin: Government Accountability Board Director Calls Walker’s Comments On Voter ID Law ‘Disingenuous’ | Wisconsin Public Radio

The director of the Government Accountability Board called Gov. Scott Walker’s recent comments about funding a voter ID public education campaign “disingenuous” on Wednesday. In a 4-2 decision, the board voted Tuesday to ask for money from the state Legislature to fund a statewide campaign to educate voters on what forms of ID are acceptable at the polls. Walker addressed the funding request on Tuesday, saying that the high turnout during the April 5 primary demonstrates the funding is unnecessary. Moreover, the governor said the state has already spent too much money defending the law in court.

Full Article: GAB Director Calls Walker's Comments On Voter ID Law 'Disingenuous' | Wisconsin Public Radio.

Wisconsin: Conservative groups helped gut Wisconsin election laws | Center for Public Integrity

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker signed into law on Wednesday measures that transform campaign finance rules and a government accountability board — two bills pushed by the very same conservative political groups implicated in an investigation into his campaign. The new laws arrive five months after Wisconsin’s state Supreme Court closed a three-year investigation into whether Walker and moneyed conservative nonprofits illegally coordinated campaign strategy during the Republican’s 2012 recall campaign for governor. The court cleared Walker and conservative allies of any wrongdoing on the basis that Wisconsin’s campaign finance laws were “unconstitutionally vague and broad,” opening the doors for legislative rewrite.

Full Article: Conservative groups helped gut Wisconsin election laws | Center for Public Integrity.

Wisconsin: Walker yet to sign GAB overhaul bill | Wisconsin Watchdog

More than two weeks after the Assembly finalized passage of a bill that would dismantle the state’s rogue political speech regulator, Gov. Scott Walker has yet to sign the legislation into law. And it’s not clear when he will do so. “I don’t have an update beyond what I have previously provided, which is that he will review this legislation and supports overall reform of the Government Accountability Board to provide a replacement that is fair, transparent, and accountable to Wisconsinites,” Walker press secretary Laurel Patrick told Wisconsin Watchdog in an email Monday. The Republican-led Assembly on Nov. 16, in “extraordinary session” and on a party-line vote, passed the bill, ending what state Rep. Dean Knudson has described as Wisconsin’s “failed experiment.”

Full Article: Walker yet to sign GAB overhaul bill - Watchdog.org.

Wisconsin: Assembly GOP approves rewritten campaign finance laws, GAB overhaul | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Assembly Republicans on Monday sent Gov. Scott Walker bills rewriting campaign finance laws and replacing the state’s ethics and elections board with two new commissions. The bills were prompted, in part, by ire over an investigation of Walker’s campaign that was terminated this summer by a state Supreme Court ruling. A provision of the campaign finance bill would put into law the court’s finding that candidates and issue groups can work closely together. The campaign finance bill would also double the amount donors can give candidates; allow corporations and unions to give money to political parties and campaign committees controlled by legislative leaders; and end the requirement that donors disclose their employers. That would make it harder for the public to find out which industries are funneling money to candidates. That measure passed 59-0, with all Republicans favoring it and all Democrats refusing to vote because they argued it was a conflict of interest for lawmakers to vote on changes to campaign finance laws that would take effect before the next election.

Full Article: Assembly GOP approves rewritten campaign finance laws, GAB overhaul.

Wisconsin: Judge criticizes proposed changes to Government Accountability Board | Eau Claire Leader-Telegram

After serving on Wisconsin’s nonpartisan elections board for 6½ years, retired judge Thomas Barland of Eau Claire was succinct and direct in summing up his disappointment with the state Senate’s vote early Saturday morning to abolish the panel. “It’s a great step backwards,” Barland said Monday. Barland, who served as a Republican Assembly representative for six years before a 33-year career as an Eau Claire County judge, called the effort by the Republican-controlled Legislature to dismantle the state’s Government Accountability Board politically motivated and warned that going back to a partisan elections board could result in a return to a stalemate situation in which nothing gets done. “It opens the door to corruption in the future, potentially by both parties,” he said of the measure that passed around 2:30 a.m. on an 18-14 party line vote. “It’s hurtful to good government.”

Wisconsin: Republican leader says he has votes for elections board bill | Associated Press

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said Wednesday he has the votes to pass a compromise bill that would put two retired judges on a new ethics commission, a move that also won support from the measure’s sponsor and other reluctant lawmakers. GOP senators struck the deal Tuesday during a closed-door meeting called to break an impasse that was holding up the bill after it passed the Assembly last month. The Senate planned to pass it Friday, and the Assembly was scheduled to vote Nov. 16 to send the final version on to Gov. Scott Walker. “I wouldn’t go to the floor if I didn’t have the votes,” Fitzgerald said Wednesday. Details were still being worked out and would be released later, he said.

Wisconsin: Senate GOP reaches deal on campaign finance, elections oversight | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Making an apparent breakthrough, Republicans in the state Senate plan to modify legislation Friday that would overhaul campaign finance laws and the agency that runs elections. That sets the stage for the measures to get to GOP Gov. Scott Walker by next week. One Republican lawmaker who has been briefed on the changes said one would require a new ethics commission to include two former judges. Myranda Tanck, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), on Tuesday announced the plans to meet Friday, but declined to say what changes to the legislation could be in store. She said details may not be available until Thursday, a day before the Senate is to vote. “I can say that we believe we have come up with changes that address the concerns of the caucus and get us to versions of both bills that will have the votes to pass,” Tanck said by email.

Editorials: Bill puts veil over campaign funding in Wisconsin | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

A bill that has passed the Assembly and could be considered by the state Senate as early as Tuesday would make it much harder for citizens to learn the background of who is financing candidates’ campaigns and codify a recent Wisconsin Supreme Court decision allowing candidates to work closely with issue groups that don’t have to disclose where they get their money. The Republican legislation would also allow unions and corporations to give money to political parties and campaign committees controlled by legislative leaders. And wealthy donors would be free to give as much as they wanted to those entities, which could then pass them on to candidates. As passed by the Assembly, the bill includes a provision championed by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) that would end a requirement that donors disclose where they work, making it harder for the public to know when companies are investing heavily in certain politicians.

Full Article: Bill puts veil over campaign funding in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin: Senate Republicans take cautious tack on Government Accountability Board, campaign finance bills | Wisconsin State Journal

Undecided Senate Republicans are grappling with pressure from groups on opposing sides of bills to replace the state’s Government Accountability Board and rewrite state campaign finance law. The GOP-controlled Assembly voted largely on party lines to pass the bills last week, less than two weeks after they were introduced. But the Senate, also under Republican control, isn’t rushing to get the bills to the desk of Gov. Scott Walker. “I don’t think there’s any sense of urgency, at least on my part,” Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, said Tuesday. “I’m still studying the options.”

Full Article: Senate Republicans take cautious tack on GAB, campaign finance bills | Politics and Elections | host.madison.com.

Editorials: The Revenge of Scott Walker | The New York Times

Only weeks after giving up on his lackluster presidential campaign in the face of national indifference, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin is back to making mischief in his home state. Last Friday, Mr. Walker signed a bill to protect public officials like himself from an effective and well-established tool for rooting out political corruption. The tool, known as the John Doe law, lets prosecutors conduct secret investigations into possible crimes by executing search warrants and compelling people to testify. It is essentially a grand jury proceeding, with a judge rather than jurors deciding whether there is enough evidence for an indictment. Mr. Walker has been a target of two John Doe investigations in recent years. 

Full Article: The Revenge of Scott Walker - The New York Times.

Wisconsin: GOP abolishes John Doe probes, seeks other changes | Associated Press

Wisconsin Republicans are moving at breakneck speed to abolish secret investigations into political corruption such as one that haunted Gov. Scott Walker, do away with the state’s unique nonpartisan elections board and legalize coordination between candidates and shadowy issue advocacy groups that don’t disclose their donors. The moves come after Republicans were angered by a secret investigation of Walker approved by the elections board that focused on coordination with conservative issue advocacy groups. Republicans deny they’re seeking retribution for the probe, which the state Supreme Court in July ended as unconstitutional. But Democrats and independent observers say the changes will transform the state’s elections and regulatory process, making it more difficult to investigate politicians for wrongdoing in office.

Full Article: Wisconsin GOP abolishes John Doe probes, seeks other changes - US News.

Wisconsin: Off the campaign trail, Scott Walker is changing the way Wisconsin holds elections | The Washington Post

In the weeks since Gov. Scott Walker (R) abandoned his bid for a presidency, the Republicans who help him run Wisconsin have been on a tear. Thanks to creative post-2010 redistricting and a strong 2014 election win, Republicans control enough of the legislature in Madison to push through legislation that had been stymied by dissent — or negative media attention. Yesterday, the minority Democrats boycotted a vote on some of that legislation, a bill that would end some campaign contribution limits and allow candidates to coordinate with “issue” organizations. The caps on individual donations to state legislative and constitutional offices would be doubled; unlimited funds would be allowed to flow to campaign committees, even if the money came from the candidates themselves. Democrats, who have fought in vain to slow down conservative legislation in the past, were shocked at the speed of this bill. “It was always moving, but it kind of hit an oil slick this month,” state Rep. Mandela Barnes said in an interview. “It sped up and got out of control.”

Full Article: Off the campaign trail, Scott Walker is changing the way Wisconsin holds elections | The Washington Post.

Wisconsin: Judge declines to expand acceptable forms of voter ID | Associated Press

A federal judge on Monday denied a civil rights group’s request that voters be allowed to use more forms of photo identification at Wisconsin’s polls, marking another chapter in a string of legal decisions surrounding the politically-charged voter ID requirement. The American Civil Liberties Union asked U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman in March to declare that people can use technical college IDs, out-of-state driver licenses and veteran photo IDs to vote. The ACLU argued that the voter ID law allows four-year college IDs at the polls but it is unclear whether technical college IDs are acceptable. The group also argued that Wisconsin voters with out-of-state driver licenses must surrender the licenses, forfeiting the ability to drive, so they can get Wisconsin IDs, amounting to an unconstitutional poll tax. Finally, the group contended the law arbitrarily excludes the use of Veterans Administration IDs even though U.S. military IDs are acceptable. Adelman rejected all three arguments.

Full Article: Judge declines to expand acceptable forms of voter ID - TwinCities.com.

Voting Blogs: Wisconsin Government Accountability Board | State of Elections

In 2008, in the wake of a legislative caucus scandal and partisan rulings by the state’s Elections Board, Wisconsin announced the formation of a new non-partisan ethics and elections agency. The Government Accountability Board (GAB), formed from the merger of the Elections Board and Wisconsin’s Ethics Board, was intended to provide an independent body capable of investigating criminal and civil violations of the state’s ethics and election laws free from the partisan and financial pitfalls that wracked its predecessors. On Tuesday, Republican lawmakers held a hearing on a bill to scrap the GAB and replace it with a system similar to the one it replaced. Board members of the resulting Ethics and Elections Commissions would be appointed by state legislative leaders from both parties and the governor. The gubernatorial appointees to the Elections board would be former local election clerks. The proposed bill would also reverse the changes to the funding rules that were considered key to the GAB when it was formed.

Full Article: Wisconsin Government Accountability Board |.

Wisconsin: Republicans propose splitting Government Accountability Board into elections, ethics commissions | Wisconsin State Journal

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.

Full Article: Republicans propose splitting Government Accountability Board into elections, ethics commissions | Politics and Elections | host.madison.com.

Wisconsin: Opponents ask court to relax Wisconsin voter ID requirements | Associated Press

Opponents of Wisconsin’s voter identification law argued in federal court Monday that the legislation is improperly restrictive and should be expanded to allow people to use more forms of ID. The case represents the latest push from the American Civil Liberties Union against a law that has been the focus of a string of legal battles since it was passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by Gov. Scott Walker four years ago. Supporters of the legislation say its requirements help guard against election fraud, but opponents say its true intent is to make voting tougher for older, poor and minority voters who tend to support Democrats and are less likely to have the mandated forms of identification. Those include a Wisconsin driver’s license or state ID card, a U.S. passport, military ID card, college IDs meeting certain requirements, naturalization certificates or IDs issued by a Wisconsin-based American Indian tribe.

Full Article: Opponents ask court to relax Wisconsin voter ID requirements - StarTribune.com.

Editorials: Republicans simply out for revenge on Government Accountability Board | Ernst-Ulrich Franzen/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

This is the week that state legislators are expected to start wreaking their revenge on the Government Accountability Board. Plans to replace the agency are in place. A suggested compromise reportedly has fallen on deaf ears. Deals reportedly have been made to move swiftly on legislation, the effect of which most likely would be to pull any semblance of teeth from this watchdog. Of course, Republican legislators pushing this effort say that wouldn’t be the case; that a new agency (perhaps two new agencies) is needed because this one has been too partisan in its oversight of ethics and elections, and that a replacement would be “fair, transparent and accountable to Wisconsinites,” in the words of a spokeswoman for Gov. Scott Walker. Forgive me if I’m skeptical. And let me add that I have little doubt that more than a few Democrats quietly support this measure simply because no politician really likes a watchdog agency that is doing its job in a truly nonpartisan fashion.

Full Article: Ernst-Ulrich Franzen - On, Wisconsin - Republicans simply out for revenge on GAB.

Wisconsin: Government Accountability Board head asks lawmakers to delay overhaul of elections agency | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

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.”

Full Article: GAB head asks lawmakers to delay overhaul of elections agency.

Wisconsin: Targeting of Government Accountability Board ‘all about raw political power,’ Jay Heck says | The Capital Times

The way Common Cause in Wisconsin executive director Jay Heck sees it, the state’s Government Accountability Board is being punished for doing what it’s supposed to do. Republicans, including Gov. Scott Walker, have called for the dissolution of Wisconsin’s nonpartisan elections and campaign finance agency, whose board voted in 2013 to authorize an investigation than ran alongside a John Doe probe into alleged campaign finance coordination between Walker’s 2012 recall campaign and an outside advocacy group. In an interview on “UpFront with Mike Gousha” that aired Sunday, Heck said claims that the GAB hasn’t done its job have proven to be unfounded through audits.

Full Article: Republicans' targeting of GAB 'all about raw political power,' Jay Heck says | Politics and Elections | host.madison.com.

Wisconsin: Democrats angle for nonpartisan redistricting reform | The Capital Times

Democratic lawmakers are once again seeking to enact nonpartisan redistricting reform in Wisconsin, with legislation introduced Tuesday. State government in Wisconsin has been under one-party Republican rule since 2011. Democrats tried and failed to pass similar legislation in 2012. Asked why Democrats didn’t implement these reforms when they last held a majority in 2009 and 2010, Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, said, “Something should have been done,” adding that he was supportive of it at the time. “That was a mistake, and that’s a pox on our party and a pox on any party that doesn’t do the right thing,” Hansen said. “But it does not excuse the opportunity we have now.” 

Full Article: Wisconsin Democrats angle for nonpartisan redistricting reform | Politics and Elections | host.madison.com.