Gableman review paused as lawsuits play out

By: - May 12, 2022 5:00 am
Michael Gableman | Up Front screen shot

Michael Gableman | Up Front screen shot

Former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman’s partisan review of the 2020 presidential election has been paused as several lawsuits over his work play out in the court system, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said Wednesday. 

Vos also said that Gableman’s $11,000 a month salary will be cut in half during the pause, adding that the review could be restarted if the courts rule in Gableman’s favor. 

Gableman has been digging for evidence of widespread election fraud since last June, when Vos tapped him to lead an investigation into baseless Republican allegations that the election was stolen from former President Donald Trump. The investigation was originally set to end in October, but Vos has repeatedly granted extensions to Gableman — most recently through to April 30, when his most recent contract expired. Vos had previously extended the review indefinitely under pressure from Trump and several of the Republicans in the state who are pushing election conspiracies the hardest. 

Vos said that Gableman’s pay will be cut to $5,500 a month and the review’s initially allocated $676,000 budget will not be increased. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Wednesday that Vos has reversed his earlier declaration that Gableman would have to pay back the taxpayers $2,700 they spent to cover the costs of his trips to see the election audit in Arizona and to attend a forum in South Dakota hosted by Mike Lindell, the MyPillow executive, who has promoted conspiracy theories about the 2020 election. “Is it something that, you know, that you look back now and say it might not have been worth it? Well, you don’t know till you go,” Vos told the Journal Sentinel of his decision to allow Vos to keep the public funds.

There are currently five pending lawsuits relating to Gableman’s review, two of which are related to open records and the former judge’s refusal to comply with the state’s public records laws. The other three relate to Gableman’s authority as an appointed special counsel of the Legislature.

The two open records lawsuits were brought by the government watchdog organization American Oversight. Circuit Court judges in Dane County have repeatedly expressed their alarm at Gableman’s refusal to comply with open records laws. Last month, an attorney for Gableman wrote in a letter that he frequently deleted records he deemed “irrelevant,” which is contrary to state open records laws. 

The other three lawsuits are about Gableman’s ability to compel testimony from election and local officials. Gableman has filed subpoenas against the administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission and the mayors of several majority Democratic cities. The subjects of those subpoenas contend that Gableman doesn’t have the authority to take private depositions and instead must do so in public in front of a legislative committee. 

Gableman has also filed a lawsuit seeking to jail the Democratic mayors of Green Bay and Madison for failing to comply with his subpoenas. The mayors say they have complied with Gableman’s requests. A hearing is scheduled for July 11 in that case. 

So far, Gableman’s review has turned up nothing more than innuendo and baseless allegations. His claims have been repeatedly debunked by news organizations and election officials. Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin, a result that has been repeatedly affirmed by lawsuits, recounts, audits and investigations.


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Henry Redman
Henry Redman

Henry Redman is a staff reporter for the Wisconsin Examiner who focuses on covering Wisconsin's towns and rural areas. He previously covered crime and courts at the Daily Jefferson County Union. A lifelong Midwesterner, he was born in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a degree in journalism in May 2019.