The head of the state Government Accountability Board is defending comments made by a former staff member in emails to a special prosecutor.
A Wall Street Journal editorial last week cited multiple emails between then GAB staff attorney Shane Falk and the special prosecutor handling a John Doe investigation, which was looking into possible illegal coordination between Governor Scott Walker’s campaign and conservative groups. In them, Falk reportedly urged prosecutor Francis Schmitz to “stay strong” and shared his views on making the public aware about “dark money” spending in elections. Falk also argued that Schmitz may have lied to the press when his attorney said Governor Walker was not a target of the investigation.
Republicans were quick to point to the emails as the latest evidence that the GAB is operating as a partisan agency and is need of reforms. GAB director Kevin Kennedy on Tuesday fired back though, arguing that there is nothing wrong with staff have personal political opinions. Kennedy called it “unrealistic” for people to think staff can’t have their own opinions, since they all vote as well. However, he said staff does not make the ultimate decision about how investigations proceed. That authority rests with the six retired judges who make up the GAB.
AUDIO: Kevin Kennedy defends staffs’ personal views (:36)
Kennedy said he was not going to “throw Shane under the bus,” but noted that he had asked him to tone down his general comments. “I dealt with those issues as they came up from a personnel standpoint, as to whether that was the best way to handle things.”
Falk left the GAB in August of last year to work for a private practice.