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Group asks judge to fine Robin Vos for not releasing Gableman investigation records
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Group asks judge to fine Robin Vos for not releasing Gableman investigation records

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A liberal watchdog group is asking a Dane County judge to hold Assembly Speaker Robin Vos in contempt of court for failing to release records relating to the GOP-ordered probe into Wisconsin’s 2020 election.

American Oversight’s motion, filed Friday, is the latest in a growing list of legal battles surrounding the investigation being carried out by former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, who this week asked for a court order compelling the mayors in Madison and Green Bay to comply with subpoenas he issued in October seeking in-person testimony.

“At the same time that his hand-selected Special Counsel is trying to have local officials detained for failing to comply with his contradictory and ridiculous subpoenas, Speaker Vos is flagrantly defying an actual court order to release records to the public,” American Oversight executive director Austin Evers said in a statement. “This shell game demands accountability and needs to end.”

A small percentage of voters and witnesses made mistakes on their absentee ballot certificates in 2020. Here are some examples of the kinds of errors that were either allowed or corrected by the clerk in order to permit the ballot to be counted.

Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn ruled Nov. 5 that Vos, R-Rochester, and Assembly Chief Clerk Ted Blazel had 10 days to release the requested public records, which span from the point that Gableman was hired in May through Aug. 27, when attorneys for Vos say Gableman officially became an authority over those records.

While some records related to the investigation had been provided, American Oversight’s latest motion asks Bailey-Rihn to hold Vos in contempt of court for not releasing all the documents and fine him $2,000 a day until the request is fulfilled. The group mentions in the court filing that Vos and Blazel did not produce requested contractors’ records for Gableman and members of his team.

Vos’ office had not responded to a request for comment Friday.

Gableman on Monday asked the Waukesha County Circuit Court, which plans to take up the matter on Dec. 22, to compel Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich and Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway to meet with him. An outside attorney for Genrich said Gableman’s maneuver isn’t legal to compel testimony and wasn’t filed in the correct court.

Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul has dismissed Gableman’s probe as a “fake investigation” and has sought a restraining order barring Gableman from seeking interviews outside of a public legislative meeting. A hearing on Kaul’s lawsuit is scheduled for Dec. 23.

Vos has allocated nearly $680,000 in taxpayer money for the one-party investigation, which is focused on some of the procedures voters and clerks relied on in casting and processing ballots. Gableman said on Wednesday his team has so far spent about $175,500 of those taxpayer dollars.

Although some have raised the prospect of fraud, no claims of large-scale cheating have been substantiated, and the investigation, so far at least, is not seeking to review any ballots. Four voters out of roughly 3 million who cast ballots have been charged with fraud.

Court decisions and a recount have affirmed President Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump to win Wisconsin by almost 21,000 votes.

Several state Republicans have gone so far as to call on the Wisconsin Elections Commission’s nonpartisan administrator Meagan Wolfe to resign from her post, a call that Wolfe has described as “partisan politics at its worst.”

Speaking during an online Marquette University Law School forum on Friday, Wolfe said one reason she does not plan to step down is that, should the bipartisan commission, which is split among three Democratic and three Republican appointees, not reach a consensus on a new administrator within 45 days, the decision would be made by the GOP-led state Senate.

“It worries me that there’s opportunities to insert somebody that might have partisan motivations into this position in the future,” Wolfe said. “I will not be swayed by one side of the aisle sort of pushing me to do something that they’d prefer. I won’t be swayed by that. And so I think it’s really important to have somebody that’s truly nonpartisan in this role.”


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