The Latest: Ethics Commission head asks to be investigated
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Latest on Wisconsin Ethics Commission meeting (all times local):
Wisconsin Ethics Commission administrator Brian Bell is asking the commission to investigate his conduct to clear his name after Republicans have questioned his impartiality.
Bell made the request at a meeting of the commission Friday.
He says results of the investigation would show that he has conducted himself in a nonpartisan, professional manner.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos have called for Bell to resign because lawmakers have lost confidence over his ability to lead because he used to work for the former Government Accountability Board.
Ethics Commission chairman David Halbrooks says commissioners could subpoena records and have witnesses testify under oath as part of their investigation.
The Wisconsin Elections Commission is considering whether to hold its own public hearing on confirming administrator Brian Bell if the state Senate won’t.
The Senate has not held a hearing or voted to confirm Brian Bell as Ethics Commission administrator. Now Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos are calling for Bell to resign over what they say are widespread concerns over partisan influences leftover from when he worked for the now-defunct Government Accountability Board.
Both Republican and Democratic members of the Ethics Commission voiced support for Bell during a hastily called meeting Friday. Republican commissioner Mac Davis says it appears that Bell is “being unfairly tarred by the dark shadow of the Government Accountability Board misconduct and perceived partisanship.”
Commissioner chair David Halbrooks, a Democrat, says he wants there to be a hearing where he says there would be broad, bipartisan support for Bell to remain in the job.
The Wisconsin Ethics Commission is meeting to discuss calls from the Legislature’s two highest ranking Republicans for the agency’s administrator to resign.
Brian Bell has refused to step down and the commission has so far stood behind him. It was meeting Friday to take up the issue.
Bell was chosen by the commission that’s evenly divided among Republicans and Democrats but has not yet been confirmed by the state Senate.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald called for Bell and Elections administrator Michael Haas to resign, citing concerns over partisan influence from them having worked for the former Government Accountability Board.
The Legislature dissolved the board in 2015 amid anger over secret John Doe investigations into alleged wrongdoing by Gov. Scott Walker and other Republicans.