Legislature Passes GAB Reform

On Monday, the Assembly met in an Extraordinary Session to pass the final changes to the bill that eliminates Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board (GAB).

GAB was under fire from Wisconsin Republicans for not living up to its intended mission as an independent board controlled by non-partisan judges. Republican legislators believed the Board was led by partisan staff and that the structure of using non-partisan judges was ineffective and unable to combat the agenda of the board’s staff. Whereas Democrats in the legislature argued the Board worked exactly as intended.

The bill, Assembly Bill 388 and Senate Bill 294, splits GAB into two separate entities: the Elections Commission and the Ethics Commission. This structure is similar to what was in place prior to GAB, which was created ten years ago.

This week the Assembly affirmed changes made in the Senate that added two retired judges to the Ethics Commissions in addition to the partisan appointees the new commission has. In addition to the structural changes, the bill restricts the new entity’s investigative powers and calls for additional oversight of funding for ongoing investigations undertaken by a commission.