Former Justice Michael Gableman | Screenshot from YouTube
The review of the 2020 presidential election being conducted by former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman has surpassed the initial budget it was given from the Legislature last summer, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported Wednesday.
Gableman was initially given a budget of $676,000 by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) to look into baseless Republican allegations that the election was stolen. Now, the review has missed several deadlines and, as of this week, spent $896,500.
The review has surpassed its budget because of a number of legal battles. The ongoing lawsuits mean that the cost to the taxpayers will keep increasing — even though the review has been “on pause” for several weeks.
A spokesperson for Vos told the Journal-Sentinel that Gableman isn’t over his budget because legal costs don’t count.
“We had no idea the magnitude of obstruction through litigation by the Democrats when the budget was established for the investigation,” spokesperson Angela Joyce said.
Gableman is currently involved in five lawsuits, one of which he filed himself. Three of the suits were brought by government watchdog group American Oversight which has sought to force Gableman and Vos to comply with the state’s open records laws and provide documents related to the review.
The judges in those cases have repeatedly sided with American Oversight and expressed confusion at Vos and Gableman’s decisions to ignore the open records laws. One of the judges has even found Vos in contempt of court for not providing records.
Another lawsuit was brought by Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul, who is representing election commissioners and other state officials. Gableman has requested to conduct private interviews with the officials but Kaul argues that he doesn’t have the authority to do so and instead must conduct the interviews in public.
Gableman also filed a lawsuit seeking to jail the mayors of three Democratic-voting cities and other people he believes haven’t cooperated with his review. The officials say they’ve cooperated.
The costs of the lawsuits will only go up as they continue and likely get appealed once decisions are made in the circuit courts.
On Wednesday, Gov. Tony Evers said the entire review has been a nearly million dollar waste of time.
“He spent about a million dollars that clearly could be used for more productive things rather than revisiting an election that’s already been determined to be safe and fair and secure,” Evers said.
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