Murphy’s Law: The Strange Rage of Scott Fitzgerald » Urban Milwaukee
Bruce Murphy
Murphy’s Law

The Strange Rage of Scott Fitzgerald

His call to fire elections commission leader defies the law and common sense.

By - Jan 12th, 2018 11:33 am
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Scott Fitzgerald

Scott Fitzgerald

Is it my imagination or does the state Capitol just keep getting stranger?

Consider the behavior of Republican Senate Majority leader Scott Fitzgerald, who has called for the Senate to remove Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Michael Haas from his job. This is bizarre on many levels.

Fitzgerald, after all, was among the Republican leaders who scrapped the state Government Accountability Board, whose board members were retired judges, at least half of which had Republican backgrounds, but which Fitzgerald and other GOP legislators accused of running an anti-Republican agency.

So it was goodbye GAB and hello to a new state Elections Commission and Ethics Commission, each with an even number of Republican and Democratic appointees on their boards. Somehow they would have to agree on policies to follow, and from all accounts the Elections Commission board did this quite well.

Julie M. Glancey, an appointee of Gov. Scott Walker to the commission, says the board members have worked very well together. “There has been very little political posturing,” she says, and nearly every vote taken has been unanimous. Glancey speaks highly of board chairman Mark Thomsen, a Democratic appointee she says is “doing a good job.”

One of the first decisions the board made was to hire an administrator, and they unanimously chose Haas, who has served since July 2016. Glancey say she has “no idea” what political views Haas holds. “Nor anyone else on the staff there. They don’t bring politics into any communication or the work they do.”

Glancey is a retired county clerk in Sheboygan who handled local elections for 28 years, and says she has never heard a complaint about Haas from any elections clerks in the state for his work with the Elections Commission or his previous eight years with the GAB. “Mike is truly a professional. He is well-respected not just by the elections clerks in the state but among elections professionals nationally.” (Haas serves on the board of the National Association of State Elections Directors.)

But Fitzgerald and Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos have insisted that Haas and Ethics Commission administrator Brian Bell should be sacked, in response to the vague accusations against many people contained in the sloppy, error-filled report on the John Doe investigation by District Attorney Brad Schimel.

In fact, neither Haas nor Bell were among the nine people Schimel recklessly (without specifying the evidence) suggested should be investigated for contempt of court. Yet Vos and Fitzgerald said they had concerns that Haas and Bell might be “partisan” and not “impartial” administrators.

Haas sent a letter to Vos and Fitzgerald demanding an apology for “trashing my name and reputation,” insisting their statements implying he had been involved in criminal activity are “verifiably false” and declaring the lawmakers offered not “the least bit of evidence to support those claims,” as Wis Politics reported.

The response from Fitzgerald and Vos? Nothing.

Fitzgerald has called on the State Senate to vote to fire Haas and Bell from their jobs. In response the board members of the Elections Commission — three Republicans and three Democrats — unanimously voted in favor of a resolution proposed by GOP appointee Dean Knudson asking Fitzgerald and the Senate to hold a public hearing on whether Haas should be fired.

The response from Fitzgerald? Nothing.

Thomsen later called Fitzgerald a “coward” and a “bully” for his refusal to hold a public hearing and provide evidence of any wrong doing by Haas.

The response from Fitzgerald? Nothing. His spokesman Dan Romportl merely reiterated that the Senate will vote Jan. 23 on removing Haas and Bell.

Fitzgerald isn’t just attacking Haas, but the six board members of the election commission who hired Haas and unanimously voted a month ago to retain him, Thomsen says. “The Republicans created this entity and the six commissioners have been doing the job they were asked to,” Thomsen notes. “And Mr. Fitzgerald has no confidence in the job we are doing.”

And the law, adds the longtime attorney, specifically delegates the power to appoint the Elections Commission administrator to the board, not to the Senate.

“We are an independent agency” and not under the power of the Senate, notes Milwaukee attorney and board member Ann Jacobs, another Democratic appointee.

Fitzgerald suggests the Senate, which has the power to not confirm the Elections Commission’s appointee, could simply vote against him. But Haas has held the position for 18 months with no objection from the Senate and Jacobs and Thomsen argue that amounts to approval.

“The administrator may be removed by the commission,” says Jacobs, “but there is no other mechanism under the law to remove him.”

In which case the Senate might have to go to court to demand the removal of Haas.

Thomsen hopes it doesn’t come to that: “I’m hoping some senators have the courage to stand up to Mr. Fitzgerald.”

So far, one GOP senator showed such courage. “Who’s running the place? Sen. Luther Olsen of Ripon has questioned. “The bipartisan board or partisan politicians?” He told the Journal Sentinel he would understand if Commission members chose to resign.

Which would be a disaster for the state elections system. Glancey, Thomsen and Jacobs all say the sacking of Haas would make it very difficult for the Elections Commission to do its job. As it is, a state budget cut has left the commission short of staff, leaving Haas with a huge challenge he has handled well, by all accounts.

None of which seems to matter to the Senate Majority Leader. “Fitzgerald acts too much like a king and not an elected official,” Thomsen says. “I think the power has gone to his head.”

This is act of mindless vengeance by Fitzgerald, who is still mad about the long disbanded John Doe probe. As Jacobs says: “Just because you are mad about something that happened five years ago and he (Haas) didn’t do, you don’t throw out all the improvements by the commission. There’s nothing other than that Mike proofed some legal briefs. I don’t think people should be fired for this when that’s their job.”

“Mike Haas has done his job in an exceptional fashion,” Thomsen says. “It’s just wrong and morally repugnant that anyone wants to get him fired.”

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Categories: Murphy's Law, Politics

14 thoughts on “Murphy’s Law: The Strange Rage of Scott Fitzgerald”

  1. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    Fitz wants revenge because GAB dared to look,into,his role in laundering money during the 2011-12 recalls against GOP Senators. That is all this is about, along with the illegal lobbying revealed yesterday by the Ethics Commission

  2. “No comment” is being put to strange uses these days.

  3. ERIC J. says:

    Just more of the Wisconsin Republican Purge .( If you’re not with us you’re against us mentality)

  4. Terry says:

    Dump Fitzgerald!
    Dump Vos!
    Dump Walker!
    Dump all republican charlatans in 2018!!

  5. snowbeer says:

    With the hyper partisan state legislature, filled with career politicians, if someone disagrees with you that is considered bring unfairly biased. Same thing occurs in Trump’s brain.

    They can’t be looking at evidence because it seems to be a valid lead, it is only because they are doing the work of Democrats.

  6. Dennis says:

    Absolute power corrupts. It doesn’t make any difference what party is in power. When you have all the chips you take advantage and think you have a “mandate” to do the people’s business, forgetting you got that by gerrymandering. If you really want fair government you have to have shared power.

  7. John says:

    Can we please get an updated picture of Fitzgerald. This glamor shot made 15 years ago does not reflect the lardo buffoon he really is. It is time for this little oversized Napoleon to step down.

  8. Thomas says:

    Disagreeing mildly with post # 5, Republicans are more prone to corruption than Democrats. Republicans tend to want it all for themselves first, promising that rewards will “trickle down.” Once they have more money, corrupt voices tell them they deserve it and they need not share. Liberals don’t mind sharing up front; therefore they are less likely to hear corrupt voices.

    Republicans in WI in the last 6 or 7 years have been more corrupt than any party in WI in generations. The recent redistricting and the buying of state Supreme Court seats with dark money are examples of the above.

  9. will says:

    People of Wisconsin get use to it, Wisconsin is a very corrupt state run by little men like Vos, Fitzgerald, Walker, Alberta Darling and the rest of the corrupt GOP. These people are just cowardly reps taking big dark money from the Koch. Club for growth, ALEX and don’t forget THE Bradley foundation who is just a bunch of greeted old dinosaurs. The world is moving into the future while Wisconsin GOP is screwing our future with massive debt for their rich donars.

  10. gene larson says:

    For years Wisconsin was known for clean government. Now? complete turn around. Ever since the Republicans took over we have become the most corrupt Government in the country. We now have voter supression, gerrymandering so bad it’s in front of theU.S. supreme court. We have the gov giving a foreign corporation 4 billion dollars and diverting 175 million dollars from our transportation fund to build the roads for foxcon. We have a an attorney general who won’t do his job and is nothing but a lap dog for the republicans. To top it off there is nothing we can do because the state supreme court is corrupt and leans as far as possible to the right. However our nightmare may end in November. The Dems are motivated and with Trump bringing the GOP down we can hope the national blue wave will include our beloved Wisconsin

  11. Terry says:

    DUMP FITZGERALD!!
    DUMP VOS!!
    DUMP WALKER!!
    DUMP VUKMIR!!
    DUMP RYAN!!

    DUMP ALL REPUBLICAN CHARLATANS AND TRUMP TOADIES IN 2018!!

    SAVE WISCONSIN!
    SAVE DEMOCRACY!
    SAVE THE USA!!

  12. Wisconsin Conservative Digest says:

    Nothing strange about Scott. They have seen the crooked Lefties violate every rule, all in Wisconsin with their John Doe investigations that went nowhere. GAB, Chisholm, Landgraf and others were wrong. cowardly little rats.

  13. old baldy says:

    wcd:

    You need to keep current. Didn’t the JD get some convictions? Didn’t the R’s have to change the law after-the-fact to prevent more? Didn’t we find out from the JD that walker got $700000 from the iron mine folks ?

    I’d say the R’s were running scared until the SC shut down the investigation.

  14. Thomas says:

    High 5 to you, old baldy, for the wonderful euphemism that wcd is not current. WCD inhabits an imaginary world of yesteryear, where facts were flipped upside down and backwards: a place apparently inhabited by Trump, a man who Wa. Post fact checkers have identified as one who has lied 2000 times publicly in less than one year, and who has the audacity to call others liars.

    old baldy, you are too generous. WCD won’t ever get current if he insists on being upside down and backwards. Such flips work in ways for conmen such as Trump, but they are laughable from the weak-inked pens of shills like WCD.

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