Former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman in a video promoting the partisan review of the 2020 election. (YouTube | Office of the Special Counsel)
Dane County Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn said in a hearing Thursday that the partisan review of the 2020 presidential election by former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman has found “absolutely no evidence” of fraud despite spending more than a year and $1 million on the search.
What the review has done, she said, is show Gableman and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos’ disregard for the state’s open records laws.
At the hearing on Thursday, Bailey-Rihn awarded $98,000 in attorneys’ fees to American Oversight, a government watchdog group that has filed several lawsuits against Gableman and Vos over access to records created by the Gableman review. The decision to award the fees brings an end to one of four public records lawsuits brought by the organization.
The $98,000 bill will be footed by Wisconsin taxpayers, which is the reason Bailey-Rihn said she wouldn’t be seeking punitive damages against Vos.
“I think the people of the state of Wisconsin have been punished enough for this case,” she said. “I don’t think it does anyone any good to have punitive damages placed on the innocent people of this state.”
As the four records lawsuits have worked through the circuit court system, both Vos and Gableman have been found in contempt of court. Gableman has also admitted to regularly deleting records state law requires him to keep.
“This whole case has been about trying to shine a light on government,” Bailey-Rihn said.
Instead, she said, taxpayers have been paying him up to $11,000 a month “to sit in the New Berlin library to learn about election law because he knows nothing about election law.”
“We’re all citizens of this state and this country, and we want our elections to be fair and not tainted by any sort of election fraud,” she continued. “We have absolutely found out from this case there was absolutely no evidence of election fraud.”
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