Former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman in a video promoting the partisan review of the 2020 election. (YouTube | Office of the Special Counsel)
Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Michael Gableman, the former state Supreme Court justice Vos appointed to lead the partisan investigation of the the 2020 election, are both facing potential reprimands from state courts over their actions during the investigation into the election won by Joe Biden.
A Dane County judge ruled on Tuesday that Vos must appear for a deposition with liberal watchdog group American Oversight after the group filed several lawsuits seeking records related to the review.
American Oversight has for months been seeking documents related to the review and Vos was ordered by a court to release them more than once. After receiving some documents, but not as many as the group believes exist, American Oversight asked Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn to hold the speaker in contempt of court and fine him for failing to comply. Bailey-Rihn refused to file a contempt charge but did say she didn’t understand how so few records had been created during a months-long review.
“Does he not have any itinerary and did he not have any work product for what he did out in Arizona while he was there?” she asked about Gableman in a hearing late last month. “It seems strange to me that this could be going on for three months with, I think, one if not more attorneys working on this and they did nothing. They provided nothing? They don’t even have a copy of the receipt showing that they paid for their plane tickets?”
American Oversight’s deposition of Vos will focus on how his office searched for the records and his effort to comply with the group’s open records requests.
Lawyers for Vos said the requested deposition was nothing more than a “fishing expedition,” a characterization some observers found ironic considering that last week, in an apparent extension of his review — which was supposed to be wrapped up by Dec. 31 — Gableman filed another round of subpoenas, this time his requests include data about individual voters.
“Fishing expedition?” Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell tweeted. “Gableman will likely bill the state for his industrial fishing trawlers. He is asking for hundreds of millions of records.”
Also on Tuesday, a lawyer for Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich asked a Waukesha County judge to force Gableman to take out ads in three major Wisconsin newspapers admitting that he mischaracterized how the mayor has responded to Gableman’s review.
In November, Gableman filed a lawsuit against Genrich and Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway requesting a judge to order them to appear to testify secretly before him or be jailed by the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Office.
The mayors called the lawsuit ridiculous and said Gableman was misrepresenting the communications he and his office had with city staff. On Tuesday, Genrich’s lawyer Jeffrey Mandell asked Waukesha County Judge Ralph Ramirez to order Gableman to take out full page ads in the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and Wisconsin State Journal admitting that he’d mischaracterized the mayors’ actions. He also asked that Gableman appear before the Assembly Committee on Elections to admit he had mischaracterized the mayors’ actions to committee members.
Mandell also wants Gableman to pay a fine and be forced to take a class on legal ethics.
Gableman responded by threatening to seek sanctions against Mandell for writing a letter Gableman’s attorneys say mischaracterized state law.
This back and forth stems from Gableman’s subpoenas demanding the mayors appear to give private testimony in front of the former judge. The mayors refused, saying they’d only testify in public and Gableman told media outlets he was no longer attempting to collect the testimony after the cities provided records also requested in the subpoenas. Then in November Gableman changed course and threatened to have the mayors jailed for not appearing for the requested testimony.
Despite his contract ending on Dec. 31, Vos has now said Gableman’s review could extend into the spring.
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