The deceptively-named Government Accountability Board had, on Friday, what we may hope will be a close encounter of the last kind with Wisconsin’s nonpartisan, nationally respected, and formidable Legislative Audit Bureau.
Among other things, the GAB has not conducted timely inquiries to detect the possibility of ineligible voters casting ballots and has been inconsistent in applying its own penalty schedule for campaign finance, lobbying, and ethics violations. Here’s the full audit report.
Beyond establishing cause to rid Wisconsin of a contemptible agency, the report prompts reflection on how government should pursue accountability. Question One: “Accountable to whom?” Implicit in its misbegotten title is the idea of holding government accountable to the public, but the GAB doesn’t properly do that.
It’s a creation of politicians whose natural reluctance to be held accountable extended to an aversion to the sometimes uncomfortable business of holding others accountable—fobbing off the task on unelected regulators who proved all too accommodating to the proclivities of a Liberal staff.
Republican plans to replace the GAB are already being labeled “partisan.” It’s the GOP’s responsibility to make its case that thoughtfully-designed partisan government is preferable precisely because it is accountable to voters. The public will have no trouble deciding which party does the better job of keeping government honest.
Unaccountable government is what you get when elected officials punt their responsibilities to unelected panels of experts on the pretense that they will be above politics. Expect results at least as undesirable as the GAB if the Left ever succeeds in creating sham nonpartisan commissions to put control of legislative redistricting or judicial selection beyond the reach of voters.
The false promise of eliminating partisanship succeeds only in allowing partisanship to be conducted surreptitiously by agents who are immune to accountability on Election Day.