Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

Former GAB member: Kinney did 'right thing' in resigning from Ethics Commission 'doomed to failure'Submitted: 01/10/2017
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter
bmeyer@wjfw.com

Former GAB member:  Kinney did 'right thing' in resigning from Ethics Commission 'doomed to failure'
RHINELANDER - Two months ago, retired Rhinelander Judge Robert Kinney fired off strong words while announcing his resignation from the state's Ethics Commission.

He criticized the attitude, secrecy, and inaction of the new board, which was created to oversee campaign finance, lobbying, and ethics laws in Wisconsin.

Kinney seems to share frustrations with another retired Rhinelander judge, Tim Vocke.


"[The Ethics Commission] was doomed to failure, in my opinion," Vocke said. "It was simply ignoring eight years of success and going back to the bad old days."

Vocke served during five of the eight years that the Government Accountability Board existed. Five retired judges at a time joined him on the panel.

The GAB was created in 2008, replacing the state Ethics and Elections boards, which had been around since 1973. Legislators created the GAB in response to partisan caucus scandals in the 2000s.

But in 2015, Republicans in power in Madison voted to scrap the nonpartisan GAB and go back to something with similar-sounding names to previous panels. They created the Ethics and Elections commissions. Each commission is made up of partisan appointees.

The Republican move to dissolve the GAB in 2015 came after the board investigated possible coordination between outside conservative groups and Gov. Scott Walker's 2012 campaign.

"With the Republicans, I wasn't surprised when they got angry," Vocke said. "We'd been angering them before because they were the majority party. They had the governor. We weren't doing what they wanted to do." 

"I think [those Republicans are] politicians, and they're looking out for themselves," he continued. "That's not something unique to Republicans. Both parties have been doing that."

After a few months serving on the new Ethics Commission, Kinney had had enough and resigned.

"I thought Judge Kinney did the right thing," Vocke said. "I thought it was a gutsy move."

In a year-end interview, Gov. Walker indicated an interest in hearing Kinney out.

"We made the offer to meet. Hopefully, we will, sometime after the start of the year," Walker said. "I don't know exactly what his frustration is."

Among other concerns, Kinney complained that members of the commission had an "observable lack of commitment" and that the panel's rules "require too much secrecy and too little transparency."

"The public is almost completely shut out of the process," he said.

To Vocke, those frustrations sound familiar.

"This is history repeating itself," Vocke said. "This is what happened before the GAB was formulated in the first place. Nothing was getting done."

Walker is in charge of naming Kinney's replacement to the Ethics Commission. He will select a new commissioner from a list of nominees provided by Democrats.


Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS

Play Video

MOSINEE - From here on out, Mosinee's Kevin Osterbrink will plow snow with a Stormy Kromer hat on his head--and a Stormy Kromer pattern on his plow.

Osterbrink entered his wife, Kayla Cisler-Osterbrink, in a prize drawing from Stormy Kromer and BOSS Snowplow. Her entry won, and BOSS delivered the red plaid patterned snowplow on Friday in Mosinee.

"I was tapping maple trees, and my wife showed up and said I had some homework to do because she won the plow," Osterbrink said, remembering how he found out they won.

"The first thing I told her was, 'That's the last thing I need, more work to do.' She said, 'Well, I think you want to do this, because you just won the Stormy Kromer plow," Osterbrink said.

+ Read More

MARATHON COUNTY - Police released the name of man found dead at a Marathon City motel last week. 

28-year-old Brian Kienast was reported missing from Adams County on November 22, 2017.

According to the press release, Kienast had been in Marathon City during the week of Thanksgiving. 

The Marathon County Sheriff's Office are asking people for information about Kienast. 

If anyone saw or had contact with Kienast since last November please contact the sheriff's office. 

You can submit a tip online or call 877-409-8777

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - A snow storm caught Hanson's Garden Village in Rhinelander off guard last weekend and collapsed a greenhouse. Now that spring weather is here, Hanson's is ready to move forward by making some adjustments.
"We got by for 25 years doing what we were doing," said Hanson's Garden Village Co-owner Brent Hanson.
Last weekend's spring snow storm set back Hanson's.
"We thought we were ahead of schedule having that greenhouse nice and filled," said Hanson's Manager Beth Hanson. 

"One bad storm and there you go. Things happen," said Brent.
The storm collapsed a greenhouse holding thousands of plants.
"For years we've gotten by with these lighter cheaper green houses," said Brent.
"We'll be down a greenhouse for a little bit here," said Beth.
Now Hanson's will only use sturdier and solid greenhouses so that collapses don't become a pattern.

+ Read More

Play Video

WOODRUFF - Hunters can decide whether to keep their turkey or donate it to families in need.

The DNR started a turkey donation program last year with hopes of expanding it this spring.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - Oneida County needs more foster care homes. Right now, there are nine licensed foster homes in the area, most of which are full according to the county's social services department. 

Foster Care Coordinator Rachel Nelson says that in Oneida County there are 24 children currently living in foster homes. The department participated in a statewide foster care recruitment project last fall, and discovered just how great the need is. 

+ Read More

EAGLE RIVER - When you grab a bowl out of your cupboard, it probably came from a big box store.

You won't find those at The Warehouse Art Center in Eagle River.

These are hand-thrown bowls made right in the ceramic studio.

+ Read More

MILWAUKEE - Students willing to spend the summer on a Harley could ride off with a free motorcycle.

Harley-Davidson is making the offer for those who join its summer internship program.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: 





Click Here