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Watchdog: Haas Ouster Diminishes Confidence in Election Results

The Republican-led state Legislature in Wisconsin has made changes in the structure of the way elections are overseen. A watchdog group says the changes have reduced the reliability of election results. (Wikimedia Commons)
The Republican-led state Legislature in Wisconsin has made changes in the structure of the way elections are overseen. A watchdog group says the changes have reduced the reliability of election results. (Wikimedia Commons)
March 14, 2018

MADISON, Wis. – A government watchdog group says the ouster of Wisconsin Elections Administrator Michael Haas means Wisconsinites will have diminished confidence in the result of their elections.

Jay Heck, executive director of Common Cause in Wisconsin, says Haas, who resigned under heavy partisan political fire rather than face an extended legal battle, is the victim of the worst kind of political payback.

Heck says the Republicans who attacked Haas didn't take issue with anything he did as overseer of state elections. Heck says this move will likely affect the reliability of election results.

"If you are ousting the one person who had the confidence of both Republicans and Democrats to do a fair job and an impartial job in overseeing our elections, I think that just bodes very, very ill for public confidence," Heck states.

Republican leadership says they lost confidence in Haas' ability to act fairly in overseeing elections because of what they call his partisan actions when he worked for the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board, which was disbanded three years ago.

According to Heck, there's residual anger among Republicans from the Government Accountability Board's investigation into possible campaign law violations by Gov. Scott Walker's campaign during the recall election six years ago.

Heck says, "Vendetta is the perfect word to describe what's going on.”

And he adds, "They want to elevate this issue to somehow create a narrative that the Republicans were wronged for even being investigated for possible violation of campaign finance law, and it's quite clear that at the time, it was illegal to engage in campaign coordination."

Heck says it's not bad enough that Republicans forced a respected state official to resign, but now they intend to hold a series of hearings about the now defunct Government Accountability Board.

"To determine the criminality–- and I say that sarcastically – that may have occurred while the Government Accountability Board was investigating alleged crimes, mainly in the form of illegal campaign coordination during the recall elections of 2011 and 2012," he states.

At that time, the board was looking into possible coordination between Walker's campaign and the Wisconsin Club for Growth.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI