WALKER MUM ON WHETHER ETHICS, ELECTIONS COMMISSION ADMINISTRATORS SHOULD RESIGN
Gov. Scott Walker today repeatedly declined to weigh in on whether the administrators at the Ethics and Elections commissions should step down following the DOJ’s John Doe leak reports.
Walker answered a series of reporters’ questions on the topic this afternoon with variations of “I think the report speaks for itself.” He said although legislative leaders “chose to take a step beyond that,” his view is that “it speaks for itself.”
“You can see that’s a pattern I keep coming back to,” he quipped during a stop at the Department of Military Affairs to tout the “If You See Something, Say Something” public safety campaign. “I can say it many different ways. I might say, ‘Merry Christmas, the report speaks for itself.’ ‘Happy Hanukkah, the report speaks for itself.’”
Walker’s comments come after Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, in separate letters last night urged Administrators Brian Bell, of the Ethics Commission, and Michael Haas, of the Elections Commission, to step down.
Fitzgerald today, though, took it one step further when he issued a statement saying if Haas and Bell won’t step down, he’d bring their appointments up for confirmation votes on the Senate floor in January in an attempt to force them out. He added the pair would “never” get enough votes for Senate confirmation.
The calls come after both commissions earlier this week voiced support for Haas and Bell, with the Elections Commission approving a resolution backing Haas; and the Ethics Commission chair and vice chair writing in a letter they support Bell.
Haas today said in a statement he plans to continue in his post administering elections, adding he calls “on the Legislature to support that work.”
Chair David Halbrooks said the commission was surprised at the letters Fitzgerald and Vos sent last night and continues to have no issues with Bell.
“We are strongly in support of Brian,” he said.
Dem leaders Gordon Hintz and Jennifer Shilling in a joint statement this afternoon blasted the Republican calls for Haas’ and Bell’s resignations, saying the attempt could have an impact on next year’s elections.
“Republican leaders who continue to struggle with scandals and corruption allegations have a clear motive to disrupt election integrity, loosen ethics enforcement and rig the system in their favor,” said Hintz, D-Oshkosh.
Meanwhile, Walker said the Elections Commission’s request to the Joint Finance Committee to approve the addition of three positions to help administer elections and maintain cybersecurity for the agency’s IT applications could face difficulty.
“I imagine it’d have a hard time now getting itself through the legislative process in light of what the leaders have said,” he said.
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