Walker Calls for GAB to Be Dismantled
Andrea Kaminski, Executive Director of LWVWI, released the following statement in response to Walker's proposal.
Yesterday Governor Walker called for replacement of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board. That would be a terrible mistake.
Launched in 2008, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board was formed by a virtually unanimous, bipartisan vote in the legislature. The agency was crafted in response to the caucus scandal which sent legislative leaders from both political parties to jail for campaigning on the taxpayers’ dime. It replaced two separate boards, populated with political appointees, which oversaw government ethics and election administration. The GAB was the first nonpartisan board in the country to oversee elections, and it is a big improvement over the old system.
The GAB is made up of six former judges nominated and confirmed through a process designed to minimize partisan influence. They have been nonpartisan elected officials who are experienced in making difficult decisions in a fair and thoughtful manner. They have not disappointed.
Every lawmaker currently in the legislature who was in office in 2008 voted for the creation of the GAB. You would think they would be proud that their vision has become a national model in elections and ethics administration. For example, the GAB was hailed nationally in 2013 as “America’s Top Model.” A 2011 book noted that the Wisconsin GAB “achieves something that up until now has been a rarity in the United States: election administration that is independent of partisan politics.”
The GAB doesn’t please all of the people all of the time. Its role is to enforce ethics and election laws, and that can make it unpopular at times with people at both ends of the political spectrum. The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin does not agree with every call the board makes, but we have found GAB staff and board members very willing to listen to our concerns, and their response is always timely and clear.
A recent audit revealed the GAB to be an effective agency which has been limited by an oversized workload and a barely sufficient level of staffing. Rather than go back to the old system, lawmakers should provide the funding necessary to accomplish the vision lawmakers had when they created the GAB in the first place.
The GAB's Director, Kevin Kennedy, has a statement on its website about the GAB's future.