CQ reader Joe K brings me up to date on a story line that has gone quiet the past couple of weeks. The embattled head of elections for Milwaukee responsible for the fiasco of last year’s presidential balloting has abruptly resigned after spending the last month on sick leave:
Under a blitz of criticism over the city’s handling of the Nov. 2 presidential election, Lisa Artison resigned Tuesday as executive director of the Milwaukee Election Commission after four weeks off the job on sick time.
Artison faxed a one-sentence note of resignation to the mayor’s office Tuesday. She could not be reached for comment.
In recent days, speculation grew that Artison would leave the post she held since July, when she faced sharp questions about her qualifications from aldermen at her confirmation hearing.
Her mysterious resignation probably has to do with the independent investigation launched by a combination of the state legislature, the local DA, and the FBI. Artison started taking her assigned sick days shortly after the mayor’s committee on the Election Day fiasco — on which Artison inexplicably got to sit — got superceded by the new independent panel. City officials get 30 days of sick leave and earn more as the year progresses, based on service, and it’s pretty apparent that Artison saw the writing on the wall after she and her patron, Mayor Tom Barrett, lost control of the investigation.
Next item for Milwaukee residents: an explanation of how Barrett chose Artison in the first place. Her selection last summer to this post stirred up controversy as Artison had no experience other than as a Barrett campaign volunteer and being the wife of a local talk-show host. She barely made it past her confirmation with the aldermen, squeaking by on a 9-6 vote. The six opposing her now look like geniuses, and Barrett should be held accountable for handing out important appointments to unqualified people in order to curry favor with local opinion-makers.