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Lautenschlager, Bell chosen to lead new Ethics Commission (UPDATE)

By SCOTT BAUER
Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Former Democratic Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager was selected Monday as chair of Wisconsin’s new Ethics Commission, and the job of administrator was offered to a former analyst of the nonpartisan board the panel was created to replace.

Lautenschlager, who served as attorney general for one term, had to pay a fine to the previous Ethics Board following her arrest for drunken driving in 2004.

The new Ethics Commission consists of an equal number of Democratic and Republican appointees. It, along with a similarly organized Elections Commission, this month replaced the nonpartisan Government Accountability Board comprised of retired judges. The Republican-controlled Legislature, along with Gov. Scott Walker, pushed to replace the GAB after its involvement in an investigation into Walker and conservative groups.

The Elections Commission will oversee Wisconsin’s ethics, campaign finance and lobbying laws that cover those running for office, those in office and those seeking to influence the decisions they make.

Lautenschlager was picked as chair of the commission after a piece of paper was drawn out of a small wicker basket to determine that the first leader of the commission would be a Democrat.

Lautenschlager won election as attorney general in 2002 but lost in a Democratic primary in 2006 that came two years after she pleaded guilty of driving drunk in her state-issued car. Following her arrest, Lautenschlager entered into a settlement with the state Ethics Board as it was constituted at that time, paying a $250 fine and reimbursing the state for $672 worth of personal travel she hadn’t reported.

She has been working as a private practice attorney the past 10 years.

Lautenschlager’s arrest from 12 years ago did not come up as the commission voted unanimously to make her chair. She will serve in the position for two years. Republican Katie McCallum was chosen as vice-chair.

The board voted unanimously to offer the job of administrator to Brian Bell with an annual salary of $92,500. Bell accepted later Monday, said board attorney David Buerger.

Bell was one of 23 applicants for the position. Two other finalists had previously been named — Assistant Attorney General Tim Samuelson and former Legislative Council deputy director Laura Rose.

Rose withdrew from consideration, Buerger said.

Bell is a budget and policy analyst for the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services in Walker’s administration. He also previously worked for the Government Accountability Board as an ethics and accountability specialist.

The job is for a four-year term and subject to approval by the state Senate.

 

 

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