Wisconsin Government Accountability Board

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Seal of Wisconsin.svg.png
2011 Wisconsin Senate Recalls

Senators Facing Recall
Robert CowlesAlberta DarlingSheila HarsdorfDave HansenJim HolperinRandy HopperDan KapankeLuther OlsenRobert Wirch

Other Recall Information
Recalls by YearRecall Law in WisconsinRecall laws in other statesRecalls in Wisconsin2011 Scott Walker Budget Repair BillProtests over Budget Repair BillWisconsin Government Accountability BoardRecall timelineElection Results
The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB) is an independent board that is responsible for enforcing the state's elections, ethics and campaign finance laws.


The Wisconsin Legislature created the new Government Accountability Board (GAB) in January 2007, which assumed the combined responsibilities of the former State Elections Board and the State Ethics Board on January 10, 2008.[1] The former elections and ethics boards were formed in 1974[2].

Mission statement

The mission statement of the GAB is as follows:[3]

The mission of the Board is to ensure accountability in government by enforcing ethics and lobbying laws, and to enhance representative democracy by ensuring the integrity of the electoral process.


The board consists of six members, all of whom are former judges.

Selection of members

Board members are nominated by a panel of four Wisconsin Appeals Court judges, appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. They serve staggered six-year terms, with one member's term expiring each year.[3]

Senate leader calls for political appointees

On December 3, 2012, incoming Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) said he wanted to change the makeup of GAB to replace judges with political appointees. According to Fitzgerald, the board has not been impartial but rather has favored Democrats. Much of his criticism regarded the board's handling of the recall elections in 2011 and 2012. However, Democrats also criticized the board during the process. Changes to the board have to be approved by the Legislature.[4] Gov. Scott Walker (R) said the issue was not a priority for him.[5]

Accountability Board Members

As of December 4, 2012, the membership of the GAB is as follows:

Member Position Term expires Appointing Governor
David Deininger Chair May 1, 2016 Democratic Party Jim Doyle*
Michael Brennan Vice Chair May 1, 2014 Democratic Party Jim Doyle
Gerald Nichol Secretary May 1, 2018 Democratic Party Jim Doyle**
Thomas Barland Member May 1, 2015 Democratic Party Jim Doyle
Timothy Vocke Member May 1, 2017 Republican Party Scott Walker***
Thomas Cane Member May 1, 2013 Democratic Party Jim Doyle
*Gov. Doyle initially appointed Judge Deininger, but Gov. Walker pulled back Judge Deininger’s nomination when he first took office, since Judge Deininger had not been confirmed by the State Senate. Gov. Walker then interviewed Judge Deininger and made the appointment himself.[6]
**Judge Nichol was reappointed by Gov. Walker on June 21, 2012.
***Judge Vocke resigned from the Board in December 2011, but was reappointed by the Governor, effective April 2, 2012.[6]

Five of the six current members were originally appointed by former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle. Three of them, Barland, Deininger, and Nichol, have all previously served as Republican elected officials. Cane and Brennan have not been elected to partisan office.[7]

Gordon Myse's term expired on May 1, 2011, but he served until a successor, Timothy Vocke, was appointed. This was the first appointment made by current Republican Gov. Scott Walker. Along with Vocke, the Candidate Committee suggested Hon. Charles P. Dykman of Madison and the Hon. Denis Luebcke of Appleton for the position.[8] On June 17, Walker announced he had chosen Vocke for the seat.[9]

On February 23, 2012, the Government Accountability Candidate Committee sent Gov. Walker four names to fill two vacancies. They must be confirmed by a two thirds vote of the state Senate.[10]

The committee chose Hon. Gary L. Carlson of Medford, Hon. Charles P. Dykman of Madison, current GAB member the Hon. Gerald C. Nichol of Madison, and former GAB member the Hon. Timothy Vocke of Rhinelander.[10]

Walker reappointed Vocke effective April 2, 2012.[6]

Former members

Previous members of the board:[11]

Campaign finance discipline

The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board is responsible for handling all campaign finance discipline involving civil law violations. If someone feels a person or committee violated campaign finance law, the first step is to file a complaint with the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board[12]. It is up to the Director and the Staff Attorneys of the G.A.B. to determine if there is enough probable cause to move forward any investigation[12].

Any elector may file a verified petition with the Board or the appropriate district attorney requesting that civil action be brought against any person or political committee or group to enforce campaign finance regulations under Chapter 11 of the Wisconsin Statutes. The Board may conduct an investigation and pursue civil forfeitures, or refer the matter to the appropriate district attorney for criminal prosecution.[12].

Recall campaigns

See also: Laws governing recall in Wisconsin

The Board is responsible for overseeing recalls. That process includes:

  • Certifying signatures
  • Hearing challenges and rebuttals to recall campaigns


See also: Recall of Wisconsin State Senators (2011)

In 2011, 16 recall campaigns were initiated against Republican senators in Wisconsin. Nine recalls had proper signatures filed against the sitting incumbent (3 Democratic and 6 Republican senators). Two Republicans - Randy Hopper and Dan Kapanke - were ultimately removed from office.

See also

External links