Tuesday - December 13, 2016 8:23 am

Wisconsin ethics commissioner resigns, saying it was "too secret." Featured

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Partisan group has had its share of scrutiny, after replacing nonpartisan board

It could be the beginning of the end for the fledgling Wisconsin Ethics Commission.

It's certainly not a good sign, says Wisconsin Common Cause director Jay Heck, when a commissioner of the five-month old board quits.

That's precisely what retired judge Robert Kinney did Monday, saying the new commission's rules "require too much secrecy and too little transparency," and suggested that the whole thing seems rigged to fail.

"The legislative leadership really doesn't want strong enforcement of ethics in campaign finance law," Heck said. "They want to be able to do whatever they want."

It was back in August that the commission voted to allow itself to make campaign donations to the very people it is supposed to regulate.

The commission took the place of the Government Accountability Board, which many (politicians, perhaps) saw as too effective in regulating politicians. It was put into place after the Government Accountability Board was disbanded right after investigating Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker for illegal campaigning.

The partisan ethics commission - made up of three Republicans and three Democrats (Kinney was a Democrat) - began June 30, along with a separate elections commission to oversee campaigns and elections.

"To resign in protest and make a very strong statement about the weaknesses and the shortcomings of the state ethics commission, I think is a powerful statement," Heck said. 

It says something about the whole commission, Heck added.

"He feels, and certainly I do, and a lot of other government watchdogs, that this was a big mistake," Heck said.

Mitch Reynolds

Mitch Reynolds is the News Director at Midwest Family Broadcasting. He covers the internecine agonies of La Crosse city hall. He really likes basketball.

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