when it comes to reviewing the recall petitions against Democrat State Senators.
GAB announced on Friday that it would need to delay consideration of petitions against Democratic Sens. Robert Wirch of Pleasant Prairie, Jim Holperin of Conover and Dave Hansen of Green Bay because election staff needed more time to review the Democratic challenges to the petitions. Staff Counsel Shane Falk said staff worked significant overtime during the holiday weekend to complete their review of the Darling petition before focusing on the petitions targeting Democrats, which had more complex legal issues.
The board proceeded after GAB director Kevin Kennedy recommended they move forward with the petitions against GOP senators. Kennedy said the move would provide a fuller record when they ask a circuit court for an extension on the remaining three petitions.
The result at least from a public relations standpoint, is a look of partisanship and bias.
Eric McLeod, attorney for the conservative petitioners, said the board was in violation of a court order to finish their review of those petitions by June 3. He said that the board either needed to adjourn without considering the three petitions against the GOP senators or to consider the petitions against Democrats as planned.
“This is simply unacceptable,” McLeod said. “The GAB is designed to be a non-partisan agency and any implication of partisan bias in the work that it does should be of great concern to the members of this board.”
It also led to a call by organizers of the recalls against the Democrat State Senators for the head of Government Accountability Board to resign.
This move angered residents attached to the efforts to recall Democratic senators David Hansen of Green Bay, Robert Wirch of Pleasant Prairie and Jim Holperin of Conover, prompting them to call for Kennedy’s resignation Tuesday.
But it’s not only the decision to postpone the vote that has some residents angry. They’re also upset the delay could bump back the recall election date for Democratic senators.
Orville Seymer, director of field operations for the Milwaukee-based Citizens Responsible for Government, or CRG, Network, said the GAB’s actions are unfairly and purposefully affecting the momentum of each party heading into the recall election dates — the Democrats in a positive way; the Republicans in a negative way.
The CRG Network is a conservative-leaning grassroots organization involved in, among other things, recalling Democratic senators who fled the state in an attempt to prevent the necessary quorum for the Senate to vote on Gov. Scott Walker’s collective bargaining bill.
“It is a big concern that the recall elections for the Democratic senators could be held after July 12,” Seymer said. “It all goes back to momentum.”
Dan Hunt, a Pleasant Prairie resident who led the recall effort against Wirch, agreed two election dates would not bode well for Republicans.
“I thought they (GAB staff) were non-partisan,” Hunt said. “But this proves they are not.”
Kennedy scoffed at the criticism.
“We are the referees,” Kennedy said. “The referees in any situation are going to be criticized…that comes with the territory. The board simply said ‘We recognize that there are political sensitivities.’ But they also recognized that the staff approached this in an unbiased and non-partisan manner, as they are charged by statute and as is the way they have exhibited themselves.”
The only problem is with Kennedy’s explanation is that it doesn’t pass the smell test.