Ethics Commission Launches Secret Investigation

After weaponizing the GAB as a partisan hit squad against Republicans, it looks like some of the same people have simply moved over to the Ethics Commission and weaponized it.

The offices of Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Sen. Steve Nass told WisPolitics.com they have been contacted by an attorney hired by the Ethics Commission to probe charges of “partisan influence” toward agency Administrator Brian Bell.

The Ethics Commission declined comment Tuesday, citing confidentiality laws regarding agency investigations. But the contacts come a little more than two weeks after Bell asked the commission to launch an investigation into his conduct to clear his name following Republican calls for his resignation.

They also come amid an escalation in the standoff between Fitzgerald and Mark Thomsen. The Elections Commission chair Tuesday called the Senate GOP leader a “bully” for refusing to hold a confirmation hearing for agency Administrator Mike Haas, who also has been called upon to resign.

Fitzgerald has instead indicated he plans to have the Senate vote later this month on the nominations of Bell and Haas, having previously predicted they would “never” win enough support in the GOP-controlled Senate to win confirmation.

Mike Mikalsen, an aide to Nass, R-Whitewater, charged Tuesday the probe launched by the Ethics Commission was an “abusive process.”

“It’s an attempt to try to intimidate the Senate from taking action on a confirmation vote,” Mikalsen said.