GOP power infringes on non-partisan GAB oversight

In an unprecedented move through media statements, and a hearing of the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR), the GOP has forced the non-partisan Government Accountability Board to reconsider its opinion regarding on-line recall petitions. Facing the threat of a rule-making process based on a partisan JCRAR (The Committee majority is Republican) hearing, Kevin Kennedy testified and submitted a statement to the JCRAR which indicates the GAB will “reconsider” its opinion regarding electronic petition gathering. This represents a change in GAB opinion, which had been to allow an electronic form of recall petition gathering the GAB opined was consistent with Wisconsin Statutes. The GOP threatened to subject the GAB to new rule making process, which would give Governor Scott Walker virtual veto power over any rule the agency made – allowing him to rule on recall petition gathering methods, and inserting partisan politics into an Agency created with bi-partisan support for monitoring elections and government.

In a statement, Representative Mark Pocan (D-Madison), expressed frustration with GOP conduct towards the GAB:

“Today, Republicans broke a deal to bring true autonomy to the Government Accountability
Board, scarring Wisconsin’s tradition of clean government,” said State Representative Mark
Pocan (D-Madison), who helped create the Government Accountability Board in 2007. “The
people of Wisconsin will not stand for Republican manipulation of what is supposed to be an
independent non-partisan agency as promised to them by the legislature in 2007, for their own
party’s political gain.”
“Not only did I vote for the creation of the GAB, but I helped negotiate the deal to help take
partisanship out of our election and ethics agencies,” said Pocan, who toured state editorial
boards with former GOP leaders Mike Huebsch and Mark Gundrum touting the compromise.
“Today, the Republicans went back on their word, risking the independence of the Government
Accountability Board.”

The conduct of the GOP in pressuring the GAB to bow to their political wishes, through threats of undermining the Board’s ability to act in a non-partisan fashion, is the conduct of a party desperate to retain power. The transparency of their actions could not be any more obvious. They have forced the GAB to modify opinion or face the absurd rule-making power given to the Governor by this Legislature – in the hopes of allowing him to rule on his own recall.

Another in a series of power grabs by a party blind to their own ambitions, and the needs of the people – in this case, for a non-partisan Board to oversee the conduct of elections and governance. Remember the GOP members of JCRAR, primarily Leah Vukmir, Jim Ott, and share the absurdity of their anti-Democratic actions.