Lawmakers may be barking up the wrong G.A.B. tree

The word is out today that Joint Legislative Audit Committee chairs Sen. Rob Cowles (R-Allouez) and Rep. Samantha Kerkman (R-Randall) want to audit Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board. State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin), Chair of the Senate Committee on Elections and Urban Affairs, and State Representative Kathy Bernier (R-Lake Hallie) Chairman of the Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections asked for the audit on January 24th.

In an article by MJS’ Patrick Marley, GAB Director Kevin Kennedy flips the response, “he believed an audit would show the agency needs more money to meet the public’s expectations.”

No one is asking, “What expectations?”

A couple of days ago Fox 6 reported that the G.A.B. is sending 300,000 post cards to update voting lists. Fox 6 failed to indicate it’s not the G.A.B.’s job to incur such an expense. It’s the local clerk’s. Money is in local budgets to handle the required inquiry, but the G.A.B. sucked the task away from municipalities and called it their own. Cards will still be returned to the municipality where the voter is registered.

There are two reasons the G.A.B. might be making such a move. First, they want to justify their existence. In order to prove they are important, they are making it up as they go, even if such a maneuver is in violation of current state law. Just March 20th chairman Timothy Vocke conceded he didn’t think the G.A.B. had the authority to take the confirmation mailing out of the hands of the locals. But the G.A.B. did it anyway.

One municipality was doing this work. Joshua Schoemann, village administrator/clerk for the Village of Ridgefield, had a press release a month ago explaining the cards would be sent from his office. And it was completed prior to the last election.

The G.A.B. has been sending mixed signals on the task. Only that one community from what I can gather worked to be within compliance of the law.

The second possibility, and the more important tree I wish someone would bark up, is that of usurping power. The G.A.B. simply stepped in and made new rules based on their own wants. So what would keep them from proclaiming the board would soon be in charge of road building? After all, roads are used by voters to attend polls.

I hope you see where this could end up. The G.A.B. doesn’t need to be audited, it needs to be shuttered. Under Kevin Kennedy the board has become as much a Frankenstein as Doyle’s notorious vetoes. They must be stopped.


  1. With no elections until the spring of next year it doesn’t surprise me that the Republicans are dragging butt on this issue. I’d bet that there will be some pressure at the State Republican Convention to take some action.