Monday, November 2, 2015

Let's save the GAB -- contact these Republican State Senators

Elections oversight deserves to be in nonpartisan board's hands

The Government Accountability Board is on life support...for now.

Though a bill meant to dismantle the GAB (replacing it with two partisan-derived commissions) passed the Assembly, the Senate has yet to take the matter up -- and for good reason.

The votes just aren’t there for Republicans.

Several members of the GOP Senate caucus are signaling their distaste for the proposed changes, which would remove nonpartisan judges from overseeing the elections processes in the state.

Hardline conservatives have lambasted the GAB as a failed experiment. But the board is consistently lauded nationally for being a prime example of what statewide elections commissions should look like. Editorial boards across the state (even those that haven’t always seen eye-to-eye with the GAB) have also expressed their support for keeping the Government Accountability Board intact, and have questioned the real motivations behind the proposed changes.

No, what really irks some conservatives is how the nonpartisan GAB saw clear through the smoke and understood how ravenous the Scott Walker campaign for governor had been in trying to steer fundraising from donors to third party interest groups.

Millions of dollars changed hands this way, including a hefty donation from a mining company that scored a huge win following the election -- the governor’s signature on a much desired pro-mining bill (which happened to be written by the very mining company that had made the donation in the first place).

Coordination between certain groups like these and candidates’ committees is illegal. Any level-headed Wisconsinite would look at this situation, and determine that it warranted an investigation.

And that’s exactly what the GAB saw, and did. Because of this investigation, however, conservatives have repeatedly sought to somehow expose the GAB through government audits. When those audits turned up no damning evidence against the GAB, these spiteful conservatives decided to dismantle it anyway.

But some conservatives see through this ruse -- a handful of Senate Republicans, understanding that the Government Accountability Board isn’t the witch-hunting caricature that some conservative groups claim it to be, are using their rational and critical thinking skills to slow down the plan to dismantle the GAB.

In doing so, they are allowing us the people a chance to have our say. There are seven Republicans in the state Senate who have expressed some concern about the proposed changes to elections oversight in the state. They are:

  • Sen. Robert Cowles
  • Sen. Sheila Harsdorf
  • Sen. Jerry Petrowski
  • Sen. Howard Marklein
  • Sen. Luther Olsen
  • Sen. Richard Gudex
  • and Sen. Terry Moulton

    Each of these senators, whether they represent you or not, deserves contact of some kind over the next few days. Please call or email them (clicking the links will take you to their government home pages), urging them to stand steadfast against the transparently deplorable attempts to dismantle the Government Accountability Board.

    A partisan elections board is not an unfamiliar thing to Wisconsin. It was because such a board failed to stop corruption that the nonpartisan Government Accountability Board model was adopted. Now, because corruption was uprooted and exposed by this board, some lawmakers want to change things to the way they were.

In any other place, moving towards that change would be called that idiocy. In Wisconsin, it’s apparently what state Republicans want to see happen. Well, hopefully not all of them.
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