The head of the state Government Accountability Board is coming to the defense of the agency and its policies, following a state audit released last week that has some Republicans calling for the dismantling of the agency.
GAB director Kevin Kennedy appeared before the former judges who oversee the board Tuesday, to update them on how staff have been working to respond to the audit and explain some of its findings. Kennedy told members that efforts are already underway to address many of the issues highlighted in the report, with the goal of dealing with “practically every recommendation” by mid-April. The one area Kennedy said might take more time is the review of administrative rules handled by GAB. He said the search for a staff member to deal with those issues is currently underway.
The audit released last Friday found a series of issues at the agency, ranging from staff failing to do mandated checks for felons voting in a timely manner to not informing board members about some enforcement actions. Elections Division Administrator Mike Haas noted that the auditor made it clear that “this report is a report of exceptions. It’s things that the board and the staff can improve upon. It did not address the numerous special projects and initiatives, or the other regular duties we have, that are going well and that the board is exceeding at.”
The audit has prompted calls by some Republicans to overhaul the GAB, just seven years after it was created as a non-partisan agency to oversee elections and ethics laws. Kennedy cautioned against that move Tuesday, arguing that having both divisions under a single roof has created a sort of “one-stop shop” for those looking for clarification on ethics and campaign laws.
Board members ordered GAB staff to begin providing updates in the coming months on how the recommendations outlined in the audit are being addressed.