Incoming state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said Monday he would like to replace nonpartisan judges on the Government Accountability Board with political appointees, saying the board too often favors Democrats.
Fitzgerald said the GAB, which reviewed petitions and set election dates for the gubernatorial and state senatorial recall elections, did not carry an independent voice over the last two years, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Monday.
He said rather than the six retired nonpartisan judges who are currently on the board, the GAB should have partisan members appointed in order to “strike more of a balance.”
The GAB has faced criticism from both Democrats and Republicans in the past, particularly for how it handled the recall election of Gov. Scott Walker and state senators in the past two years, according to the Journal Sentinel.
In a press release Monday, current state Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, said Fitzgerald’s idea promotes an “anti-democracy agenda.”
“Their goal appears to be doing everything possible to gain and keep power, not helping Wisconsin’s middle class,” Barca said in the release.
The GAB oversees elections by reviewing campaign finance reports and handling ethics violations in Wisconsin.
GAB Director and General Counsel Kevin Kennedy said in a statement the board’s decisions will always fall under criticism, but those criticisms “should be evaluated based on who is making them.”
“Just like in a sporting event when a referee makes a call, seldom are all sides happy with the decision,” Kennedy said in the statement.