Wisconsin Government Accountability Board
|Other Recall Information|
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. The former elections and ethics boards were formed in 1974.
The mission statement of the GAB is as follows:
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.
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. Gov. Scott Walker (R) said the issue was not a priority for him.
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||Jim Doyle*|
|Michael Brennan||Vice Chair||May 1, 2014||Jim Doyle|
|Gerald Nichol||Secretary||May 1, 2018||Jim Doyle**|
|Thomas Barland||Member||May 1, 2015||Jim Doyle|
|Timothy Vocke||Member||May 1, 2017||Scott Walker***|
|Thomas Cane||Member||May 1, 2013||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.|
**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.
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.
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. On June 17, Walker announced he had chosen Vocke for the seat.
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.
Walker reappointed Vocke effective April 2, 2012.
Previous members of the board:
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. 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.
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..
- 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
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.
- Official web site of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board
- Wisconsin CFIS (Campaign Finance Information System)
- Wisconsin campaign finance information
- Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Government Accountability Board"
- Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Former Elections Board"
- Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Introduction to the G.A.B.," accessed May 11, 2011
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Incoming Senate leader favors political appointees over judges on GAB," December 3, 2012
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Walker says overhauling GAB not on his agenda," December 5, 2012
- E-mail communication with Reid Magney, GAB public information officer, April 27, 2012
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Nonpartisan Government Accountability Board faces partisan charges," June 7, 2011
- WisPolitics, "GAB: Governor receives nominees to Government Accountability Board," April 12, 2011
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Walker appoints judge to Government Accountability Board." June 17, 2011
- Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Governor Receives Nominees to Government Accountability Board," accessed February 23, 2012
- Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, "Past Members of the Government Accountability Board," accessed May 11, 2011
- Wisconsin Government Accountability Board Complaints
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