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Assembly Speaker Robin Vos hires retired police officers to investigate presidential election
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Assembly Speaker Robin Vos hires retired police officers to investigate presidential election

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Robin Vos

Members of the Assembly applaud Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, as he speaks after Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers' virtual State of the State Address on Jan. 12.

The Wisconsin state Assembly’s top Republican said on Wednesday he plans to hire retired police officers to investigate the November presidential election six months after President Joe Biden won the state.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said he plans to hire the three retired officers to work in conjunction with an Assembly committee with investigatory powers that has already been formed to review the presidential election, despite Wisconsin election officials expressing confidence in the result. Vos said he wants the investigators to look into the thousands of complaints about the election lawmakers received after the November presidential contest.

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In January, the Wisconsin State Journal reviewed thousands of such complaints through the Wisconsin open records law, and found the majority of them were mass-generated form letters making nonspecific claims. The State Journal was able to identify just 28 allegations of election fraud or other irregularities that were specific enough to attempt to verify, but could only partially substantiate one, involving 42 votes. Interviews with dozens of prosecutors, election officials and people who lodged complaints made clear that most, if not all, of the allegations could be chalked up to hearsay or minor administrative errors.

Biden ended up winning the state by about 20,000 votes, about the same margin that former President Donald Trump won Wisconsin in 2016.

Despite courts siding with Biden’s victory in the state, Vos said he believes there were “irregularities” in the November election and that he’s directed the investigators to “follow the facts” and investigate all leads. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first reported on Vos hiring the investigators.

“We need to have a fact basis to continue to show the public in Wisconsin that, number one, we continue to take these irregularities seriously, and that at the end of the day, the laws that we proposed are based on facts in addition to anecdotes,” Vos told the State Journal.

Specifically, Vos said he takes issue with the involvement of the Center for Tech and Civic Life — funded largely by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg — in the presidential election in some of Wisconsin’s largest cities. A federal judge found nothing in the law to prohibit use of the grant money.

Vos also said he takes issue with local election officials filling in missing witness address information on absentee ballot envelopes. Vos said he hopes the investigators will help determine if there was wrongdoing in the election, as well as provide evidence for why certain election laws should be changed, as Republicans are proposing in a litany of election-related bills working their way through the Legislature.

“My goal is to show Gov. Evers that this is the right thing, so that at least half of the electorate knows that the next election is fair and square,” Vos said.

He said hiring the former police officers is necessary beyond the Assembly committee’s work because they are skilled investigators with a lifetime of experience. He said he expects the investigators to work in conjunction with the Assembly committee reviewing the November election.

Vos said he hopes the investigators can produce a report by the fall, to be released alongside an expected audit of the election by the Legislative Audit Bureau.

Vos said the investigators, which will be overseen by an attorney, can request that the Legislature subpoena witnesses on their behalf.

“I think there’s a much deeper analysis that can be done to say, okay, let’s give people confidence in the election, so at the end of the day, whatever happens in 2022, the election is held fairly and nobody looks at it after that election and says, ‘Wow, my side … lost and it was because of somebody else not doing their job,’” Vos said.


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