Governor Scott Walker on Monday joined a growing list of conservatives who are calling for an overhaul of the state Government Accountability Board, the agency that oversees Wisconsin’s elections and ethics laws. Speaking with reporters in Oshkosh, Walker said he thinks the Legislature should work to replace the GAB “with something completely new that is truly accountable to the people of the state of Wisconsin.”
Republicans renewed a push to make changes at the agency following a state Supreme Court ruling last week that ended a John Doe investigation, which had been looking into possible illegal coordination between Governor Scott Walker’s campaign and conservative groups during the recall elections. The high court ruled no campaign finance laws were violated.
The GAB had consulted with prosecutors handling the investigation though, which has also sparked calls for an investigation of agency director Kevin Kennedy, along with his removal. Walker said Monday that he thought an investigation into the actions of the GAB would be “appropriate,” and that an overall review would be warranted. “When you look at their actions on any number of issues, not just those that have come up in the last week, I think it raises some very serious questions,” Walker said.
AUDIO: Gov. Scott Walker (:21)
Kennedy came to the defense of the GAB Monday afternoon, releasing a statement that called the agency a “Wisconsin success story.”
Kennedy said the agency has achieved much of what the Legislature intended when it was formed in 2007. “At the time, the Legislature determined that Wisconsin needed an independent watchdog to ensure that elections, ethics, campaign finance and lobbying laws are administered and enforced in a transparent nonpartisan manner. Those goals remain central to our daily work,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy closed by noting “The Legislature and Governor are free to change those laws of course, but I am proud of what the agency has achieved since its inception. It would be shortsighted to simply disregard that success.”
Affiliate WHBY contributed to this report.