Wisconsin Elections Commission Sues To Stop Gableman’s Subpoenas
Suit says Gableman is overstepping authority in how subpoenas are structured.
The Wisconsin Elections Commission, represented by Attorney General Josh Kaul, sued the Wisconsin State Assembly and retired state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman on Tuesday to block the enforcement of the subpoenas Gableman issued earlier this month.
The lawsuit, filed in Dane County Circuit Court, seeks to block the subpoenas issued for the commission and for its executive director, Meagan Wolfe. The subpoenas, served on Oct. 1 and Oct. 6 respectively, largely mirror those received by elections officials in the state’s five largest cities: Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay, Kenosha and Racine.
The complaint takes issue with Gableman, as special counsel, not having the legal authority to compel testimony before himself (instead of the legislative committee that empowered him). The complaint also addresses that the testimony is set up like a deposition, to be done in private, while state statute refers to a legislative appearance at a public meeting. “Moreover, far from complying with Wis. Stat. § 13.31, the Subpoenas at issue here are entirely untethered from the activities of the Committee that the Special Counsel is supposed to be serving,” writes the Department of Justice in its filing. “The Chair of the Committee, Defendant [Janel Brandtjen], has publicly stated that Special Counsel Gableman does not speak for the Committee, and that the recently issued Subpoenas have not been submitted to or approved by that Committee.”
The subpoenas and investigation, with a $676,000 budget, were authorized by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester), who is also named as a defendant in the suit.
The complaint also takes issue with the subpoenas infringing upon the executive function of law enforcement, instead of a legislative purpose, and that they are not clear enough to meet a constitutional requirement of due process. Milwaukee officials have speculated that they would need multiple truck loads of materials to comply with the broad nature of Gableman’s requests.
Gableman and Vos have both made waves after the subpoenas were first issued.
“Most people, myself included, do not have a comprehensive understanding or even any understanding of how elections work,” said Gableman in early October.
Vos, earlier this week, said that he only had a “broad idea” of what Gablemen was doing and who he had hired. The assembly speaker has sought to limit the release of public records related to the investigation.
A full copy of the complaint is available on Urban Milwaukee.
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