Even though the Senate rejected his confirmation, members of the Wisconsin Elections Commission have voted to stick with their current administrator through at least the end of April.
Members of the bipartisan commission voted 4-2 Wednesday to keep interim administrator Mike Haas in a job he’s held for over a year, even though Republican lawmakers have called for him to resign. Commission chair Mark Thomsen maintains that only the bipartisan panel can vote to fire administrator, and any other action would result in a lawsuit against the state.
“Generally if the law says only the commission can do it, that’s the law,” he argues.
Senate Republican Leader Scott Fitzgerald says the decision to keep Haas will likely result in a court battle anyway, since he believes the Senate was on firm legal ground when it voted along party lines this week to reject the nominations of Haas and Ethics Commission administrator Brian Bell.
GOP lawmakers have raised concerns that the two are unable to be impartial because they worked for the former Government Accountability Board, the predecessor of their agencies. Their appointments came into question after the Department of Justice released a report last year that criticize the GAB for leaking information from a secret John Doe investigation that had targeted Governor Scott Walker’s campaign, which was eventually halted by the State Supreme Court. Bell and Haas were not accused of any wrongdoing in the report, but lawmakers have argued their past work with agency is still a cause for concern.
The Wisconsin Ethics Commission is scheduled to meet late Thursday afternoon to discuss Bell’s future with the agency.