September 2, 2014

Fitzgerald GAB critique draws fire (AUDIO)

Complaints about the state’s elections agency by a Republican leader are being criticized by people who were present at the agency’s creation. Senator Scott Fitzgerald told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he not’s happy with some decisions by the non-partisan Government Accountability Board, which consists of retired judges. “Senator Fitzgerald doesn’t like the way the GAB operates. A lot of Democrats don’t like the way it operates,” said Jay Heck is with Common Cause in Wisconsin. “That tells me it’s doing its job.”

AUDIO: Jay Heck (:45)

Republican Senator Mike Ellis of Neenah, who was instrumental in creating the GAB, was caught off guard by Fitzgerald’s comments. “I’m amazed at this statement,” said Ellis. “We need to make sure our elections are regulated by law, not the politicians.” Legislators including Fitzgerald voted to establish the GAB in 2007, but the Republican leader now complains the agency is not working as it should, and lacks an “independent voice.”

AUDIO: Senator Mike Ellis (:45)

“Just because the GAB has not gone along with everything that Senator Fitzgerald or his political party might like, indicates precisely why we ought to keep it as it is,” said Heck. “We tried our best to de-politicize the regulation of elections, and that’s why we created the Government Accountability Board,” said Ellis, who added that he had not spoken with Fitzgerald regarding the issue. “Before we tear down the house and build a new one, we have to make sure that whoever’s going to be in charge of our elections do it fairly, without political bias.”

WHBY’s Rick Schuh contributed to this report