Court Rejects Kaul Suit to Stop GOP Election Probe’s Subpoena
But judge warns she could reopen case if Gableman seek penalties against WEC leader.
In a decision issued Monday morning, Dane County Judge Rhonda Lanford denied an effort by state Attorney General Josh Kaul to block the enforcement of a subpoena for in-person testimony about 2020 election administration in Wisconsin issued last year to Wisconsin Elections Commission administrator Meagan Wolfe.
Gableman, along with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, who initially spearheaded the investigation, have both contended private testimony is necessary to ensure the integrity of the investigation.
In Monday’s ruling, Lanford said Kaul didn’t sufficiently argue Wolfe would be harmed by not responding to the subpoena, as she has so far refused to do.
“At this stage, Plaintiffs have not shown irreparable injury, an inadequate remedy at law or preservation of the status quo — elements necessary for the Court to consider in deciding whether to grant a temporary injunction,” Lanford wrote.
However, the judge said any effort by Gableman to seek penalties against Wolfe for failing to provide testimony, as he is doing for the mayors of Green Bay and Madison in a separate Waukesha County case, could merit revisiting the argument.
The judge also denied a motion from Gableman to dismiss Kaul’s lawsuit entirely. Gableman argued Wolfe’s job description as head of the elections commission, which is written into state law, doesn’t give her the authority to bring such lawsuits. Gableman also argued the court doesn’t have the authority to impede the Legislature’s ability to conduct the investigation.
Lanford rejected both claims.
“(It) would be nonsensical for this Court to limit authority to bring an action … because to do so would grant unfettered power to the (Legislature) to proceed with the investigation in any manner they wished despite constitutional violations,” she wrote.
Because Lanford refused to dismiss the case, there will be future court developments related to the enforcement of the subpoena.
In a prepared statement Monday, Kaul reiterated that the subpoena could still be blocked by a future court decision, and called on Gableman to withdraw his request.
“Given Speaker Vos’s recent comments indicating that the Gableman investigation will soon be coming to a close, it is my hope that former Justice Gableman will withdraw these unnecessary subpoenas rather than continuing to litigate over them,” the attorney general said.
Gableman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the decision.
The Republican-backed election investigation comes after Wisconsin has completed a series of routine state election audits and a presidential recount in the state’s two largest counties, as well as an audit from the Legislature’s nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau. None of those reviews have uncovered widespread fraud or wrongdoing in the administration of the 2020 election in Wisconsin. There have also been numerous Republican-backed lawsuits in the state, all of which have failed to result in findings of wrongdoing by election officials or voters.
President Joe Biden won Wisconsin by about 21,000 votes — a margin similar to several other razor-thin statewide elections in recent years.
Listen to the WPR report here.
Dane County judge rejects attorney general’s attempt to block GOP election investigation subpoena was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.
- Court Rejects Kaul Suit to Stop GOP Election Probe’s Subpoena - Laurel White - Jan 11th, 2022
- Sen. Carpenter Requests Legislative Audit of Michael Gableman’s Commission - State Sen. Tim Carpenter - Jan 10th, 2022
- Op Ed: Hold Wisconsin’s Fraudulent Electors Accountable - Jeffrey Mandell - Jan 6th, 2022
- Republicans Expand Election Probe - Laurel White - Jan 4th, 2022
- Quit ‘Chasing Conspiracy Theories,’ Kaul Urges Republicans - Shawn Johnson - Dec 15th, 2021
- Vos Can’t Say When Election Probe Will End - Laurel White - Dec 15th, 2021
- Key Republican Bashes GOP Elections Probe - Laurel White - Dec 14th, 2021
- Op Ed: International Election Observers Would Give Wisconsin a Failing Grade - Laura Thornton - Dec 9th, 2021
- Rep. Hintz: Condemns GOP Attack on Election Officials - State Rep. Gordon Hintz - Dec 6th, 2021
- Gableman Asks Court to Arrest Madison, Green Bay Mayors - Henry Redman - Dec 6th, 2021
Read more about 2020 General Election here