The latest audit of the GAB is generally favorable towards the state’s ethics and elections agency. Government Accountability Board director Kevin Kennedy said Thursday that overall the audit was “very positive” reflecting well on the GAB and its staff.
“What this audit does, is it really opens up a window for the public on how the Government Accountability Board handles the confidential complaints it’s entrusted with,” Kennedy said. The report from the Legislative Audit Bureau released comes as Republican legislative leaders and Governor Scott Walker have called for changes to the GAB, which would make it more partisan. The report follows a more expansive audit released in December that did not recommend that the board – which is composed of retired judges – be overhauled or dismantled. Instead, that audit suggested ways the Legislature could increase the board’s authority over elections and improve its operations.
Kennedy said that shows the agency ought to be left intact by legislative leadership. “When you’re talking about dealing with highly charged and politically sensitive, you want someone who’s removed from politics and the influence. Someone who’s not looking over their shoulder wondering who’s going be second guessing your decisions.”
The Legislative Audit Bureau made only two minor recommendations in the latest audit. It found that the GAB could have done better to resolve complaints in a timely manner during the 2012 recalls, although Kennedy noted that the agency was inundated with complaints during that period, and that the agency has moved to correct that.
“They just let time elapse and then just said after three years ‘well it’s been too long for us to actually act upon those complaints,'” said Representative Samantha Kerkman (R-Powers Lake), who co-chairs the legislature’s Joint Audit Committee. “We have state statutes on the book that they should be following through with and following. I’m hopeful that when we follow-up with the GAB, they’ll take the recommendations of the audit bureau more seriously.”