Don’t mess with Government Accountability Board

GUEST OPINION

LET’S START AT THE beginning and why the state Government Accountability Board was created.

It was created after the caucus scandals in the early 2000s when legislative leaders of both major parties used taxpayer money on their campaigns.

The old system was flawed, to oversimplify it, and those scandals eventually led to the overhaul and the current nonpartisan GAB.

Now fast-forward through the six years since the board was created.

Democrats and Republicans alike have expressed concern and criticism over how the GAB has handled recent elections. Republicans have ordered an audit and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, has said he wants to replace the retired judges on the board with political appointees. Bill Folk, who is with the Racine County Republican Party, said in a December interview that he wants to return election duties to the state secretary of state - a position he is running for.

Hearing all of that racket over the past several years about the GAB, you would think something was wrong. In reality, the concern on both sides shows the board must be doing something right.

Republicans disapproved of some of the GAB’s decisions during the recall elections, such as the timing of the elections and the process of verifying recall petitions. At the same time, the Democrats complained about letting “fake” Democrats - non-Democrats posing as Democrats - force primaries in the recall elections, which delayed the general recall elections.

In the end, after nearly two years of recall elections, there were no real winners. Even those who won elections were left with an extremely divided state struggling to deal with major issues such as unemployment. With that defeat on both parties’ shoulders, it’s no wonder they are looking for someone to point fingers at. The GAB is an easy scapegoat.

Instead of looking for someone to blame, legislative leaders on both sides should look for ways for our state to move forward positively. That does not include inserting more politics into the election process or campaign finance oversight process.

The GAB’s website states the board is “committed to ensuring that Wisconsin elections are administered through open, fair and impartial procedures that guarantee that the vote of each individual counts, and that the will of the electorate prevails.”

The only way to keep elections “open, fair and impartial” is to continue to keep politics out of them as much as possible. — The Journal Times of Racine, Jan. 8

At issue:
Non-partisan, non-political GAB
Bottom line:
Keep it that way


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