A member of Wisconsin’s newly formed Ethics Commission has resigned, just a few months into his term.
In a statement released Monday, Robert Kinney detailed the reasons behind his decision, which include concerns about the secrecy and transparency that the agency is designed to operate under. “There exists among several of the commissioners an observable lack of commitment to the underlying purposes of the agency,” he wrote.
The Ethics Commission was formed when lawmakers dissolved the state Government Accountability Board, splitting it into separate panels that will oversee ethics and election issues. Each commission is overseen by a partisan-appointed panel, rather than the retired judges who made decision for the GAB. Kinney, a Democrat, was appointed by Governor Scott Walker.
Kinney, who served as a circuit judge in Oneida County and currently serves as a reserve judge, also cited concerns about obstacles for staff that are being erected by commission members. “Staff are confronted with overbearing nit-picking at virtually every meeting. Over time (if it hasn’t already happened) this disrespectful treatment will erode staff morale and we will lose these talented people. Perhaps that is the goal,” he wrote.
Kinney said the commission is one that should strive to conduct thorough and timely investigations of allegations of campaign finance, ethics, and lobbying law violations. “Sadly, it appears we have created a system which almost guarantees that this will not occur,” he said.