MADISON, Wis. — The Latest on Wisconsin Ethics Commission (all times local):

5:50 p.m.

The state Ethics Commission’s chairman says Republican Gov. Scott Walker should remove Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm from office for running an investigation that has cost the commission’s administrator his job.

The state Senate refused to confirm Ethics Commission Administrator Brian Bell and Elections Commission Administrator Michael Haas on Tuesday. Republican Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says he can’t trust either of them because they worked for the now-defunct Government Accountability Board. That board helped Chisholm investigate whether Walker’s campaign illegally coordinated with outside groups.

Ethics Chairman David Halbrooks, a Democrat, said Wednesday that Bell was nonpartisan and didn’t deserve to be ousted. He says Chisholm is the root of the problem and Walker should remove him or someone should the district attorney. He added Fitzgerald is cementing his place in state history alongside Joe McCarthy.

Walker and Fitzgerald aides didn’t immediately reply to email messages seeking comment. No one replied to an email left in the Milwaukee County District Attorney Office’s general inbox.


5:20 p.m.

The state Ethics Commission has decided to hold off on addressing whether to reappoint its leader after the state Senate refused to confirm him.

The Senate voted against confirming Ethics Commission Administrator Brian Bell and Elections Commission Administrator Michael Haas on Tuesday. The Elections Commission voted Wednesday to reappoint Haas as administrator through April, raising questions about whether the Ethics Commission might vote to keep Bell as well.

Bell returned to his previous state job at the Department of Safety and Professional Services on Thursday. The Ethics Commission voted 5-1 late Thursday afternoon to leave his position open and decide what to do next at its Feb. 27 meeting.

The commission has 45 days to fill the post. If it doesn’t meet that deadline the Legislature would choose an administrator.

Ethics Commissioner Chairman David Halbrooks says he hopes it will become clearer by Feb. 21 whether the Senate’s refusal to confirm Bell and Haas in fact means they lost their jobs.


This item has been updated to correct the date of the Ethics Commission’s next meeting. It’s Feb. 27, not Feb. 21.


2:10 p.m.

Officials with the state Department of Safety and Professional Services say the state Ethics Commission’s former leader is now working for them.

The state Senate voted against confirming Ethics Commission Administrator Brian Bell and Elections Commission Administrator Michael Haas on Tuesday. The Elections Commission voted Wednesday to reappoint Haas as administrator through April, raising questions about whether the Ethics Commission might vote to keep Bell as well. That commission is set to meet late Thursday afternoon to decide what to do next.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald told The Associated Press that Ethics Commissioner Katie McCallum told him she spoke with Bell and he said he was considering not seeking re-appointment out of concerns he wouldn’t be able to return to his previous DSPS policy analyst job. Bell didn’t return messages and no listings for McCallum could be found.

DSPS Assistant Deputy Secretary Kristen Reader said early Thursday afternoon that Bell has returned to his post with that agency and began work Thursday.


10:30 a.m.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says Ethics Commission administrator Brian Bell may not seek re-appointment to his post.

The information came to Fitzgerald third-hand and Bell hasn’t returned messages seeking comment.

The Senate voted against confirming Bell on Tuesday. The commission was meeting Thursday to discuss who to appoint as an interim leader. The Elections Commission voted Wednesday to re-appoint Michael Haas as its administrator even though his confirmation was also rejected by the Senate.

Fitzgerald says Ethics Commission member Katie McCallum told him she spoke with Bell and he was considering not seeking re-appointment.

Bell didn’t immediately return voicemail and text messages seeking comment. No listing could be found for McCallum. A message left with the state Republican Party seeking contact information for her wasn’t immediately returned.

The commission is evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. Fitzgerald says he expects it would deadlock on voting whether to re-appoint Bell should he seek the job.


8:46 a.m.

The Wisconsin Ethics Commission is meeting to decide whether to re-hire its administrator after the Wisconsin Senate rejected his confirmation.

The commission is acting a day after the Elections Commission voted to bring back its leader after the Senate rejected him.

That Senate refused to confirm either Elections administrator Michael Haas or Ethics leader Brian Bell over what Republicans said was a lack of confidence in their ability to be nonpartisan.

The Elections Commission split 4-2 on re-hiring Haas, even though Gov. Scott Walker’s administration said it would not recognize the hire.

The Ethics Commission, like the Elections Commission, is evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says he expects the battle to play out in court.