With one scandal brewing in Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s administration, Republicans recently opened the books on a new controversy when they began dismantling a bipartisan deal that created an independent government agency that oversees our elections and ethics rules.
At issue: whether to rig election rules to protect the Republican Party and its candidates or to honor their 2007 commitment to create an independent nonpartisan agency.
Republicans had the choice. It was quite simple. And in the end, like a sore loser on a children’s playground, they simply changed the rules to benefit themselves. Recently, Republicans used a legislative committee as a bully pulpit to interfere with the autonomy of the state’s independent Government Accountability Board. The committee’s action will impact the rules governing Wisconsin’s elections, including a potential recall election against Walker.
Through their actions, Republicans broke a deal to bring true autonomy to the Government Accountability Board, scarring Wisconsin’s tradition of clean government. The people of Wisconsin will not stand for Republican manipulation of election and ethics rules, for their own party’s political gain.
I should know. I helped lead the charge to change the system in the 2005 legislative session when Republicans walked away. Their decision not to clean up our government cost several Republicans their seats in 2006. In 2007, I was again at the forefront of this debate, this time at the negotiating table. Only this time, we were finally able to get the GOP on board. After a deal had been struck, I toured state editorial boards with former Republican leaders Mike Huebsch and Mark Gundrum touting the compromise.
Recently, the GOP-led Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules pressured the independent GAB to change decisions that will directly impact a recently announced recall effort against Governor Scott Walker. Through their actions at this meeting, the Republicans went back on their word, risking the independence of the Government Accountability Board.
Prior to creation of the GAB, the Ethics and Elections Boards had to get approval for funding from the legislature to investigate each instance of legislative wrongdoing, which allowed politicians to interfere with tough and fair investigations.
Republicans have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they will try to win elections at any cost, no matter if they have to lie, cheat or steal Wisconsin’s clean government legacy to do so.
Wisconsin State Representative Mark Pocan (D-Madison), who coined the term FitzWalkerstan on the floor of the State Assembly, served three terms on the state’s budget committee, including one as its co-chair. He also served as the vice-chair of the non-partisan National Council on State Legislature’s Budget and Policy committee. Pocan’s Assembly district includes both the State Capitol and the Governor’s Mansion, making Governor Scott Walker his most infamous constituent.