The chairwoman of the state ethics watchdog agency, former Democratic state Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager, abruptly resigned Friday.
She becomes the second commissioner in the last four months to depart the new agency, which lawmakers and Gov. Scott Walker created amid controversy in 2015.
The commission began operating last summer and oversees and enforces ethics requirements for public officials, as well as campaign finance and lobbying requirements.
In a hand-delivered resignation letter, Lautenschlager wrote that her resignation is effective immediately. She offered little explanation for it, referencing “several factors that have arisen that mitigate against my continued service on the commission.”
“These factors, individually and in combination, cause me to resign,” Lautenschlager wrote.
Her letter also implores lawmakers and the governor, as they craft the next state budget, to “recognize the importance of the work of the Commission.”
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“The Ethics Commission can play a key role in restoring integrity to state government and people’s faith in their government,” Lautenschlager wrote.
Lautenschlager was named to the commission last year by Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse.
Ethics Comission Administrator Brian Bell said in a statement that the vacancy her resignation creates will be filled by an appointment by Shilling within 45 days.
Lautenschlager’s announcement comes as her son, attorney Josh Kaul, has said he is contemplating running in 2018 against current state Attorney General Brad Schimel, a Republican.
Democrats and government advocacy groups have been among the sharpest critics of the new commission, which replaced part of the functions of the former Government Accountability Board.
Another Democratic appointee, Robert Kinney, a state reserve judge from Rhinelander, stepped down from the commission in December. In announcing his resignation, Kinney described the commission as paralyzed by gridlock and by rules that require it to hide much of its operations from the public.
He also blasted some fellow commissioners, saying they have shown “an observable lack of commitment to the underlying purposes of the agency.”