Kennedy stresses GAB role as referee

    Wisconsin Government Accountability Board director Kevin Kennedy told an audience at a Milwaukee Press Club Newsmaker Luncheon this week that the current political season is supported by the letter "R."
    “Its been a long time since I’ve had kids watching Sesame Street, but I can tell you that this political season is brought to you by the letter ‘R’,” Kennedy said. “That would be ‘R’ for recall, recount, redistricting, requirements for voter identification, reducing the hours for absentee voting, and writing your name on the polls.”
    He could have added referee, for his own agency’s role in the process. Kennedy talked about how the board seeks to gain credibility through transparency and making people aware of its decisions.
    “When you’re caught in the middle, when your job is to be the referee, you’re not going to win a lot of fans except through your performance over a period of time.”
    Kennedy credited the state’s non-partisan model with giving the board credibility compared to other states where elections are handled by partisan election officials.
    “Without that non-partisan tradition, what credibility would I have?” he said.
    Kennedy’s appearance came amid complaints from conservatives over the agency’s plans for handling fictitious signatures on recall petitions. Kennedy said the GAB’s job is to flag things on recall petitions that don’t appear to be true. But, he added, "we’re not going behind the signatures.”
    “Our agency is supposed to do a facial examination with the presumption of what you see in front of you is true, so we flag things that don’t look true,” Kennedy said
    He also stressed the role recall circulators play in removing duplicate or fictitious names.
    “If they’re doing their job — and I will grant you that not everyone is as diligent as you would expect — they’re signing a statement saying, ‘I personally obtained these and I know who signed this signature,’" Kennedy said. "So they’re probably going to take care of, first of all, a lot of the fictitious names.”
    “If we get a petition that has seven Disney characters on it, or the Dallas Cowboys, or famous quarterbacks in the NFL,” Kennedy said. “We’re going to be focusing on the circulator and how they have lied and violated the law.
    See more from Kennedy’s Press Club appearance:
    Also, read more in today’s Milwaukee Biz Blog.

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