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GOP election investigator subpoenas immigrant group for election records

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The immigration rights group Voces de la Frontera Action headed to court Wednesday to try to block a subpoena issued by the former state Supreme Court justice Republicans hired to review the 2020 presidential election.

The subpoena from Michael Gableman is “astoundingly broad and invasive” and seeks a “veritable mountain of internal documents and communications,” the group said in a statement. It also marks a broadening of the Gableman investigation into groups not directly associated with running elections.

The subpoena, issued Dec. 28 and — according to Voces de la Frontera Action, received on Jan. 5 — sought a response by Wednesday. It asked for emails and other communications related to the 2020 election, as well as information about the group’s finances and contacts with government officials and other nonprofits.

“Gableman’s subpoena is modern-day McCarthyite political theater designed to perpetuate lies about the 2020 election and silence and intimidate voters of color from exercising their right to free speech and their right to vote,” Christine Neumann-Ortiz, the group’s executive director, said in a statement.

Gableman did not respond to a request for comment.

The group, which is the advocacy arm of Voces de la Frontera, said Gableman has no authority over nongovernmental organizations. In papers filed Wednesday, it asked Dane County Circuit Judge Rhonda Lanford to quash the subpoena. The judge set a hearing for Feb. 2.

The immigrant rights group’s motion was filed as part of a lawsuit Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul has filed that seeks to quash another subpoena Gableman issued to Wisconsin Elections Commission administrator Meagan Wolfe compelling her to submit to questioning at his Brookfield office.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, hired Gableman last summer to look into how the 2020 election was conducted after former President Donald Trump complained that Wisconsin Republicans weren’t doing enough to promote the lie that Democrat Joe Biden stole the state from him. Biden defeated Trump by about 21,000 votes. A recount and multiple court challenges have revealed no evidence of widespread fraud.

Gableman has filed subpoenas seeking election records from the state’s five largest cities and demanding their mayors submit to questioning, even though mayors don’t play a role in conducting elections. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Sunday that he also has subpoenaed two companies that manufacture voting machines and software, Colorado-based Dominion Voting Systems and Nebraska-based Electronic Systems & Software.

Vos assails ‘left’

On Wednesday, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, suggested at a luncheon that he regretted how Gableman’s investigation into the election unfolded, saying it could have been “neater.” But he derided Democrats for their rhetoric regarding the investigation, which has cost taxpayers about $676,000 and is projected to extend into February.

“I did not appreciate the level to which the left feels like their only issue is protecting people’s right to vote as if we’re trying to take it away,” Vos said.

Vos later added that Democrats call “voting rights” what he considers to be Democrats’ strategies to win the elections, days after a Waukesha County judge ruled absentee ballot drop boxes are not allowed in the state.

Neumann-Ortiz said in a statement Wednesday that Gableman is targeting her group “precisely because we have successfully motivated and organized tens of thousands of Latinxs and (multiracial) youth voters statewide to turn out and vote in the 2018 gubernatorial race and in the 2020 presidential election.”

Vos also criticized the media Wednesday for being the only group “obsessed” with Gableman’s ongoing investigation, which continues despite a recount and court decisions affirming Biden’s win.

Probe approved

Also on Wednesday, the Republican-controlled Assembly Elections Committee approved on a party-line vote a motion approving of Gableman’s probe, including saying it was OK with him interviewing people privately, assisting the committee and allowing him to compel the production of documents, including through subpoenas.

Rep. Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, along with the Assembly Election Committee’s Democratic members, introduced a resolution that would eliminate Gableman’s Special Counsel office and fire his employees.

The resolution is largely symbolic and all but certain to go nowhere, but it was indicative of Democratic legislators’ frustration with the investigation after numerous reviews have affirmed there was no widespread fraud in the 2020 election.

“Ensuring elections are free, fair, and secure should not be a partisan issue,” Hintz said in a statement. “I encourage all of my colleagues to add their names, support Wisconsin’s nonpartisan election officials, and affirm the integrity of Wisconsin elections.”

Top 10 Wisconsin political stories of 2021 (based on what you, the readers, read)

2021 was another big year in Wisconsin politics. Sen. Ron Johnson said some things. Voters elected a new state superintendent. Gov. Tony Evers and Republicans clashed over mask mandates. Michael Gableman threatened to jail the mayors of Madison and Green Bay. Here are 10 political stories you, the readers, checked out in droves.

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Since the start of the outbreak, Gov. Tony Evers has issued multiple public health emergencies and a series of related orders. 

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Sen. Ron slammed the impeachment over the weekend as “vindictive and divisive,” and possibly a “diversionary operation” by Democrats to distract from security lapses at the U.S. Capitol.

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"I wouldn’t run if I don’t think I could win," said Johnson, who is undecided on a re-election bid. 

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The board had previously not required masks in schools after some in the public voiced opposition.

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With a new order announced, Republicans may be forced to start the process all over again to vote down the governor's emergency order and accompanying mask mandate, but the most likely outcome appears to be an eventual court decision.

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Fort McCoy officials acknowledge there were initial problems with food supply, but that and other issues are being addressed.

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The idea is in its infancy and all options, including declining to pursue anything, are on the table.

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Gableman has asked the court, which plans to take up the matter on Dec. 22, to compel the two mayors to meet with him.

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Deborah Kerr said she has also voted for Republicans and tells GOP audiences on the campaign trail for the officially nonpartisan race that she is a "pragmatic Democrat."

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Limbaugh died Wednesday at 70.


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