WDC Testimony on GOP Attacks on Elections, Ethics Commission Administrators

by Matthew Rothschild, Executive Director

December 22, 2017

Fist

Mister Chairman, Distinguished Commissioners, it’s nice to see you all again, and I wish you the best this holiday season.

As I mentioned to you last time I was here, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign is a nonprofit based here in Madison, which, for the past 22 years, has been championing clean and open government, where people matter more than money.

I appear before you today to give you our views on the disgusting witch hunt that has been launched against Brian Bell, your Ethics Commission Administrator, and Mike Haas, the Elections Commission Administrator, and indeed anyone who was connected with the old Government Accountability Board.

This witch hunt is being led by Attorney General Brad Schimel, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.

Not since the days of Tailgunner Joe McCarthy have elected officials in Wisconsin used their power to attempt to ruin the reputations and crush the careers of decent public servants.

As regards your Ethics Commission Administrator, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign has seen no credible evidence whatsoever, anywhere, that Administrator Bell is tainted by “partisanship,” as Vos and Fitzgerald wildly alleged in their letter to you. Nor is there anything in Schimel’s shoddy 88-page report that backs up that stray shot. And in our experience at the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Administrator Bell has always acted with the utmost professionalism.

We need to be clear – you, and I, and the people of Wisconsin – about what’s going on here.

Schimel, Fitzgerald, and Vos are nothing but playground bullies. They’re out to get anyone who was connected, in any way, to the John Doe investigations, which unearthed credible allegations of illegal and unethical behavior by Governor Walker and by some of the rightwing groups and the business groups that support him. These same groups, by the way, support Schimel, Fitzgerald, and Vos – and to this day, these groups dictate the agenda in the State Capitol.

Schimel, Fitzgerald, and Vos are on a power trip, and they’re sending a message that if you dare to question them or their buddies in any way, you’re going to suffer.

And why do they need to do this?

They’ve already won!

They’ve won the recalls.

They’ve won the State Senate.

They’ve won the State Assembly.

They’ve won the Governorship.

They’ve won the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

They’ve won against the John Doe prosecutor.

They’ve even eliminated the possibility of any future John Doe prosecutor ever again investigating alleged criminal acts by our elected officials.

And every day in the State Capitol, they’re passing just about every single bill that they and their donors want.

Isn’t that enough?!?

Aren’t they satisfied yet?

Do they really need to stand on top of the hill and kick sand in everyone’s face who didn’t roll over for them?

It’s shameful – just plain shameful! -- that they’re out to ruin people’s careers.

And it’s pathetic that they’re using the puny powers that they have in such a reckless and abusive manner.

I urge you, honorable commissioners, to stand up for Administrator Bell and to denounce these shameful tactics, which have no place in a decent society – and certainly no place in a democracy.

I thank you for your time.