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Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board died Thursday.

It was 8 years old.

Its parents were Wisconsin legislators who sought an independent agency in the wake of the caucus scandal of 2001-2002 (only two voted no). Five state legislators – both Democrats and Republicans – were convicted in the caucus scandal, which involved using public office for political campaigning.

The GAB’s life was ended by the Wisconsin Legislature, whose Republican majority became convinced the agency had overstepped its authority and was no longer impartial.

Critics called it a failed experiment. But Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause Wisconsin, told the critics: “The only thing that failed was that they (the GAB) didn’t do what you wanted them to do and they weren’t supposed to do what you wanted them to do.”

Also passing with the GAB Thursday were the roles of GAB director Kevin Kennedy, who has helped oversee Wisconsin elections for 37 years, and a six-member panel of retired judges — appointed by the governor, confirmed by the Senate — that provided oversight to the GAB.

The Government Accountability Board was preceded in death by the State Elections Board and the State Ethics Board, both creatures of political appointment. The GAB was created to replace those entities as an independent board charged with overseeing elections and enforcing campaign finance, ethics and lobbying laws.

The GAB will be survived by two commissions – one to oversee elections, the other ethics – that will be administered on a politically partisan basis, instead of being independent.

Yes, the new structure is much like the structure that existed during the caucus scandal — the one that the GAB replaced.

When it died Thursday, the GAB was the only nonpartisan oversight and elections board in the United States, and was hailed by supporters as a national model for clean government. It won consistent praise from local county clerks of both parties for helping them run fair elections.

There will be no memorial services to mark the sad occasion of Wisconsin returning to a partisan model that has a history of failure.

In lieu of flowers, remember Kennedy’s words on the GAB’s tombstone: “Follow the law. Put aside partisan interests.”

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(12) comments


Just waiting, waiting. The people see and will vote. If it is not bad enough now, then it will become so sooner or later. I hope it is before Scoot's bald spot takes over the world?

Snow Cougar Mary Burke

Why GAB Must Be Disbanded

Government Accountability Board abused its power and had secret email system.


So that means you support removing Walker from office for his secret e-mail and internet system?

Snow Cougar Mary Burke

Before lamenting the end of the GAB, read this:

While the mainstream media and their friends on the left light a candle for the state Government Accountability Board in its final hours, their dirges are missing some cold, hard facts.

The “nonpartisan” GAB and its administrators proved to be an extremely partisan player during what state Rep. Dean Knudson, R-Hudson, described as an “eight-year failed experiment.”

Scores of conservatives who were harassed, intimidated, and silenced in an unconstitutional campaign finance investigation built on a bad theory are shedding only tears of joy at the death of the GAB.

If you want any further evidence that the Tribune is biased - this opinion piece proves how they ignore GAB 's history as it promoted their left wing agenda.


The citizens of Wisconsin can easily restore the GAB. All we have to do is get off our butts and go VOTE. Draw up petitions and demand that our representatives restore it. If our representatives refuse to restore it, then we recall those representatives in favor of ones who will do our bidding.

They serve us. We do not serve them.


Democracy is dead, murdered by hyperpartisan republicans.

Buggs Raplin

If elected, I will work hard to restore the GAB.-Chip DeNure, Independent candidate for the 32nd Senate District.


The GOP is not interested in clean, democratic government. Quite the opposite!


Vote Hillary for clean, democratic leadership.


What a disgraceful move by the GOP. They have no shame. This has clearly been a move to strengthen there GRIP on the state of Wisconsin for their own selfish motives. They want to protect themselves from the watchful eyes of sane people in Wisconsin. Why are Wisconsin voters not screaming and yelling about this? Kennedy has done a very good job and that just irks the current GOP ilk in Madison. I hope voters start realizing the damage that their poor choices at the ballot box is causing in Wisconsin.


"Why are Wisconsin voters not screaming and yelling about this? "

Maybe its because you dopey liberals have cried wolf one (or dozens) of times too many. Walker hasnt done everything right or wrong. But when you attack him for the color socks he wears your voice gets lost in the din.

So who really cares what the Fibune writes or thinks? Its all willful deceit and as partisan as they accuse the GOP.


if you don't care what the trib. writes stay off the comments and don't read it. nobody will miss you.

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