When Shane Falk was hired by the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board for $80,000 per year, no less than GAB Director Kevin Kennedy vouched for him. From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s report from 2008:
Falk’s hiring is being questioned because of his partisan pedigree: He was a designee of state Senate Democrats on the old Elections Board. But Falk was just one of dozens of loyalists — for both parties – – who served on the old board, which was abolished because it had become a partisan political swamp. Falk chaired the board in 2003-’04.
Don Millis, a former Elections Board chairman and a Republican designee, said Falk may be qualified for the job but wondered what signal his hiring sends about the new ethics and campaign-finance enforcer.
“Hiring a former board member who served as a designated partisan on the board seems to run contrary to the new makeup of the board, which is decidedly nonpartisan,” Millis said. “If the board is attempting to give the appearance that it’s is going to act in a non-partisan fashion, (hiring Falk) will not help.”
But Kevin Kennedy, director of the Government Accountability Board, said Falk is “nonpartisan,” applied for the job and met all the requirements, including not having recently donated in partisan elections.
Falk donated $3,500 to Democratic candidates in 2002, but has not given anything since, according to Wisconsin Democracy Campaign records. Another applicant for the job Falk got was disqualified for having recently donated in a partisan election, Kennedy added.
Falk’s service as a Democratic designee on the old Elections Board “was something that was taken under advisement” before he was hired, Kennedy added. Falk also knows state laws on voter registration and campaign-finance issues, he added.
Here’s the email Falk sent complaining that another investigator said that Governor Scott Walker was not a target of the investigation:
Patrick Marley of the Journal Sentinel reported on Kennedy’s defense of Falk’s email:
Kennedy said the emails reflected the deliberations over how to deal with details about the investigation becoming public as Walker ran for re-election. Investigators wanted to avoid politics, but Falk’s emails showed he believed there was no way they could avoid having the matter swept into the back and forth of a political debate, Kennedy said.
“Shane was just saying, ‘Look it, it’s already out there as far as politics,'” Kennedy said. “‘Don’t pretend you’re going to remove politics from this by making a statement about who is or who is not a target. It’s already out there.’ He was pointing out the reality.”
I would say that Kennedy’s initial judgment of Falk has not held up well given subsequent events, but I believe Kennedy knew exactly what he was getting when he hired Falk.