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The Latest: Wisconsin ethics head makes case to keep job

January 18, 2018

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Latest on Wisconsin Elections, Ethics commission leader confirmation fight (all times local):

1:20 p.m.

Wisconsin Ethics Commission administrator Brian Bell says he believes he will be out of a job if the Senate votes against confirming him next week.

The Senate is expected to vote on rejecting Bell and Elections Commission administrator Michael Haas amid Republican concerns about their ability to lead their agencies. Both Bell and Haas are defending themselves and both bipartisan commissions have voted to support them.

Elections Commission Chairman Mark Thomsen has said he doesn’t think a Senate vote against confirmation would result in Haas losing his job. Thomsen has said that could lead to a lawsuit.

But Bell said at a news conference Thursday he thinks a vote to reject would mean he’s out of his job.

Bell delivered a letter to senators defending himself Wednesday but says he has not heard back from any Republicans who control his fate.


10:40 a.m.

Wisconsin Elections Commission administrator Michael Haas is telling Republican senators who will vote on his fate next week that he’s done a fair job and should remain in his post.

Haas sent senators a letter on Thursday defending his job performance and background as head of the commission and formerly as an attorney for the now disbanded Government Accountability Board. The Senate is expected to vote Tuesday on rejecting both Haas and Ethics Commission administrator Brian Bell’s confirmation.

Republican Senate leaders say they’ve lost confidence in their ability to be fair given that they both formerly worked for the GAB.

Haas says in his letter that “my background, qualifications, and variety of experiences have uniquely and perfectly prepared me” to lead the Elections Commission.

Both the Ethics and Elections commissions stand behind Bell and Haas.


8:33 a.m.

The embattled leaders of the Wisconsin agencies that run elections and enforce ethics laws are engaging in a public relations campaign to save their jobs, with a torrent of tweets and personal letters to lawmakers replete with examples designed to show off their nonpartisan stripes.

The Republican-controlled Senate plans a Tuesday vote to reject their confirmations, a move Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says will force them out of their jobs.

Ethics Commission administrator Brian Bell sent senators a packet of information Wednesday to defend himself, including a letter excoriating the disbanded Government Accountability Board as too partisan.

Elections Commission administrator Michael Haas has been tweeting reasons he should keep the job, including a video from 2011 of him confronting protesters at the old GAB office.

Update hourly