Who will watch the watchmen? Four years ago I posed that question in the run-up to reforming the John Doe law in Wisconsin when the abuses perpetrated by Government Accountability Board (GAB) director Kevin Kennedy and Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm were revealed.
This week the attorney general provided important details into those abuses by describing the “weaponization” of the John Doe process by Kennedy, Chisholm, et.al. Wisconsin’s history of open, honest government was already tainted by the John Doe, and is further stained by details revealed in the attorney general’s report.
Most stunning is a file entitled, Opposition Research. The GAB, in league with the Milwaukee District Attorney’s office, clearly viewed their agency as a government-unto-themselves. Shane Falk’s comments denigrating the will of the voters illustrates the cultural rot at the core of the now-defunct GAB.
The attorney general’s recommendations provide a good start to achieve accountability. Contempt orders should be issued by the Wisconsin Supreme Court to those participants who misled or did not fulfill the court’s orders. It is time for the Supreme Court to address the disdain with which they were viewed by the GAB.
However, for justice to be truly served, the Department of Justice should prosecute Kennedy, Chisholm, et.al. to the fullest extent of the law for their role in the John Doe witch hunt. We have already seen what a “weaponized” Internal Revenue Service can do at the federal level and only now are we getting the full picture of what can happen at the state level. Letting their actions pass without consequence is a failure of justice and would only serve to embolden other bureaucrats with partisan inclinations.
In addition, I urge the Wisconsin Elections Commission to thoroughly review the fitness-to-serve of current employees who played a leading role in the John Doe. I cannot in good conscience vote to confirm Michael Haas to head the Elections Commission until he gives a full accounting of his role in the John Doe. Plus, I urge Justice Shirley Abrahamson to give a full accounting of her role in the John Doe. As one of the most “political” judges in Wisconsin’s history, Justice Abrahamson must be up front with the people of Wisconsin with her role in the process.
The Watchmen who serve at the pleasure of the citizens of Wisconsin have yet to be held fully accountable for their actions. It is time for Justice to lend her blindfold to the Watchmen.
Senator Tom Tiffany (R – Hazelhurst) represents northern Wisconsin, including the communities of Minocqua, Rhinelander, Merrill, Antigo, and Eagle River.