Republican legislators cannot let go of the Government Accountability Board bone.
It’s a chew toy for them.
The committee would be stacked. There would be six legislators on the committee — and four would be appointed by Republicans. Speaker Robin Vos would appoint two; Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald would appoint two; and the Democratic minority leaders would get one appointment each.
The chairman of the committee would have subpoena power to drag in anyone “who worked for or with the former Government Accountability Board.” Anyone brought before the committee would receive all of $2 a day in compensation. And if they refused to come, they could be arrested by the Capitol police and held “until the committee chairperson certifies that the committee does not wish to examine the person further.”
The committee would be empowered to “study issues related to the former Government Accountability Board.” That might seem quite broad, but it’s clear that Craig does not want the committee to investigate the validity of the allegations that led to the John Doe II prosecution — such as Scott Walker’s blatant violation of the law on the books at the time that prohibited candidates from coordinating with outside groups that do electioneering. In fact, the committee is requiring the redaction of “evidence or material to prevent the identification of any person who was targeted by, a witness to, or the subject of any investigation of the former Government Accountability Board.”
In a press release on Feb. 12, Craig said he wants it to “bring some level of closure to the John Doe scandal,” but what he really wants is to amplify the overheated claims by Republican operatives that their rights were violated. “When government abuses the constitutional rights of free citizens, there must be consequences,” he said.
Craig’s joint committee would be the latest in a seemingly endless stream of attacks against the Government Accountability Board and those who worked for it.
Vos and Fitzgerald made outrageous accusations against the administrators of the Ethics Commission and the Elections Commission.
Vos and Fitzgerald demanded the resignations of the administrators of the Ethics Commission and the Elections Commission.
When the administrators refused to resign, the Senate effectively fired them last month.
Fitzgerald and other Republican elected officials followed that up by saying that others who worked with the old GAB have to go as well.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice in December issued a biased and error-ridden report on the GAB and the leak of John Doe II documents.
The Legislature has already empowered the Wisconsin Department of Justice to make another investigation, this time full-blown, of the Government Accountability Board.
The Legislature and the governor destroyed the Government Accountability Board in 2015.
The Legislature and the governor made sure that no other elected officials would ever be prosecuted by a John Doe prosecutor by passing a law saying that elected officials were untouchable from now on.
Craig, Vos, and Fitzgerald keep slobbering over the GAB bone. The last thing they want is closure. What they really want is revenge, and they will go to any lengths to exact it.
Matthew Rothschild is executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.
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