Scott Walker and Robin Vos are hatching plots to tighten their grip on the government of Wisconsin. How? By "FIXING" what isn't broken.
At the top of the list is the Government Accountability Board. For more than a year, news reports and opinion columns have been vehicles for accusing the GAB of favoring Democrats. For example, there's the piece by Matt Pommer in the GazetteXtra from October 21, 2014. The article quotes Vos saying "the Government Accountability Board (GAB) is 'dysfunctional, unresponsive, and totally undemocratic.... 'I promise you that two years from now when we are sitting here, the GAB will not be in the current format'" (GazetteXtra). The new format is to be partisan: "[Vos] said he would like to see partisan appointees have a role in administering campaign finance laws" (JSOnline, Aug 4, 2015).
The push for this "FIX" has been vocal and fierce, but recent developments may finally turn the tide against this naked political power grab. The Legislative Audit Bureau has completed two investigations of the GAB in recent months. The first looked at the operations of the agency and "found no problems with the G.A.B.’s financial accounting or spending, and called for no significant changes regarding the core duties and performance of the Board or its staff" (G. A. B. Statement Regarding LAB Audit, Dec 12, 2014). The second audit, examining the GAB's handling of complaints about elections, campaigns, or lobbying, found no significant problems with the board's handling of its responsibilities. Significantly, the report, released on August 20, 2015, describes an engaged Board that probes, evaluates and considers the materials and recommendations presented by staff.
But never mind all that, key GOP leaders say. The same day the report was released, "Joint Finance Committee co-chairs Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, and Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, called for GAB director Kevin Kennedy's resignation, calling the GAB a 'rogue agency that ignores state law and operates against its founding principles'" (CapTimes, August 20, 2015).
So the FIX IS IN: if we don't stop them, the Republicans will turn our nonpartisan election watchdog into another one of their lapdogs.
But WE CAN STOP IT. In June citizens rose up and squashed the last minute budget inclusion that would have made a mockery of our open records law. To safeguard the GAB, to protect the agency that guards against illegal campaign activities and ensures free and fair elections in Wisconsin, we need to do it again: ORGANIZE and FIGHT BACK.
You can help by joining our RAPID RESPONSE TEAM. We'll give you all the tools you need to GIVE 'EM HELL:
- templates for letters to the editors of media outlets all over the state
- contact information for every legislator
- templates for letters to every legislator
- a list of the 24 Republican legislators who voted to establish the GAB in 2007 and who are still in the legislature (we'll want to target them especially)
- scripts for calling legislators
- tips on using all your social media networks to spread the word and garner support