Providing for an informed populace and the integrity of government decision-making
The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (G.A.B.) is charged with oversight of Wisconsin's campaign finance, elections, ethics, and lobbying laws.
The G.A.B. officially began work in January 2008. It was created a year earlier in 2007 Wisconsin Act 1, replacing the State Elections Board and the State Ethics Board.
The G.A.B. is made up of six former judges, nominated by a panel of four Wisconsin Appeals Court judges, appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. The six board members serve staggered six-year terms; one member's term expires each year. Both the Board and its staff must be non-partisan. For more information, see Ch. 15.60.
In a 2010 commentary titled “The Persistence of Partisan Election Administration,” Ohio State University law professor Daniel P. Tokaji states: “The best American model is Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board, which consists of retired judges selected in a way that is designed to promote impartiality.” Professor Tokaji followed up in 2013 with a draft paper titled "America's Top Model: The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board."
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. To carry out this mission, the G.A.B. and its staff direct their energies toward providing for an informed electorate. The G.A.B. is a source of information about the election process, and the activities and finances of candidates for public office.
The G.A.B. and its staff are committed to ensuring that Wisconsin elections are administered through open, fair and impartial procedures that guarantee that the vote of each individual counts, and that the will of the electorate prevails. The Board uses information technology and the Internet to make information readily available to the public about the financing of political campaigns, elections, lobbying, and financial interests of public officials. The Board and its staff are dedicated to enforcing the election, ethics, lobbying and campaign finance laws vigorously to reduce the opportunity for corruption and maintain public confidence in representative government.
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Kevin J. Kennedy, Director and General Counsel