Head of elections board defends work

Day-long meeting focuses on Gov't Accountability Board
Head of elections board defends work

The state board that oversees elections in Wisconsin plans to discuss a new audit that found problems with its operations that is fueling calls for Republicans for an overhaul.

The 7-year-old Government Accountability Board is comprised of nonpartisan former judges. It runs elections and oversees ethics, lobbying and campaign finance laws. It has drawn the ire of both Democrats and Republicans over the years on a variety of issues.

Republicans who control the Legislature say an overhaul is needed and they are working on legislation to do that.

The audit being discussed Tuesday found that board staff didn’t not fulfill duties required by law in a timely manner, did not follow its penalty schedule for enforcing campaign finance, lobbying and ethics laws and hasn’t effectively communicated all of its rules.

Government Accountability Board director Kevin Kennedy defended the board’s work at Tuesday’s meeting.

Board chairman Tom Barland asked whether Kennedy believed elections duties should be separated from its requirement to enforce the state’s campaign finance, lobbying and ethics laws. Some Republican lawmakers have suggested making that change.

Kennedy says one of the biggest benefits of the board is that it serves as a one-stop-shop for questions about elections, ethics and campaign finance laws that often overlap.

Kennedy also defended the board’s nonpartisan structure.