Wisconsin Examiner

Vos Withdraws Subpoenas, Ends Gableman Probe

14-month election investigation “accomplished nothing,” judge wrote.

By , Wisconsin Examiner - Aug 30th, 2022 11:45 am
Former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman. Screenshot from Wisconsin Office of Special Counsel YouTube

Former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman. Screenshot from Wisconsin Office of Special Counsel YouTube

With the withdrawal of several subpoenas by Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester), the widely criticized review of the 2020 presidential election that he commissioned is over. After 14 months, the investigation found no evidence of widespread fraud in the administration of the election.

The subpoenas, which Vos withdrew on Friday, had been submitted by Michael Gableman last year to compel local and elections officials to provide documents and testimony to the review. Gableman, the former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice who Vos tapped to lead the investigation, was fired by the speaker earlier this month after he endorsed Vos’ primary opponent in the August election.

The subpoenas, which were sent to the mayors of Green Bay and Madison, as well as the administrator and a member of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, had been held up after the subjects filed lawsuits challenging their validity. Gableman had sought private interviews with the officials while the officials countered that state law required any interviews be completed in public in front of an Assembly committee.

In his attempts to enforce the subpoenas, Gableman threatened to throw the mayors in jail.

With the subpoenas withdrawn, a lawsuit against their enforcement that was still pending in Waukesha County Circuit Court was dismissed on Monday.

The election review was widely derided by Democratic and Republican officials, election workers and judges for unprofessionalism, inability to prove its fantastical claims and lack of transparency. On Friday, WEC member Ann Jacobs, a subject of one of the subpoenas, tweeted that the review had ended “with a whimper, not with a shout.”

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, who had challenged the subpoenas against the WEC, wrote on Twitter that the review should have been ended long before it did, but he was glad it’s finally over.

“Last fall, I called for this fake investigation to be shut down and we challenged several subpoenas,” Kaul wrote. “While it shouldn’t have taken nearly this long, I’m glad the ‘investigation’ has ended, and the subpoenas have finally been withdrawn.”

Vos hired Gableman last summer as he faced pressure from former President Donald Trump to continue investigating baseless accusations of fraud in the 2020 election. Numerous lawsuits, audits, reviews and investigations have affirmed Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in Wisconsin.

Gableman began his work by performing internet searches for articles about election fraud on  a computer in a Waukesha County library and attending election conspiracy events across the country.

Despite a requirement in his contract with the Assembly to provide regular reports on his progress, Gableman failed to do so. Through the 14 months of the review, Gableman published just two “interim” reports that largely summarized the investigative work done in several other audits and investigations of the election.

The review largely rehashed allegations that Wisconsin Republicans have been making in various forms since Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election. These allegations include criticism of grant money municipalities received from an organization partially funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, decisions the Wisconsin Elections Commission made to facilitate voting in nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic and attacks on the use of absentee ballots.

In an order issued earlier this month, Dane County Judge Frank Remington wrote that the work of Gableman and his Office of Special Counsel (OSC) was practically nonexistent.

“OSC accomplished nothing,” Remington wrote. “It kept none of the weekly progress reports the Wisconsin State Assembly required it to keep. It recorded no interviews with witnesses. It gathered no measurable data. It organized no existing data into any analytical format. It generated no reports based on any special expertise.”

“It did commence lawsuits against other parts of our state and local government, although at time of this writing, OSC has received no relief,” he continued. “Instead, it gave its employees code names like ‘coms’ or ‘3,’ apparently for the sole purpose of emailing back and forth about news articles and drafts of speeches. It printed copies of reports that better investigators had already written, although there is no evidence any person connected with OSC ever read these reports, let alone critically analyzed their factual and legal bases to draw his or her own principled conclusions.”

Even though his investigation turned up zero new evidence, in testimony before an Assembly committee this spring, Gableman suggested Wisconsin’s 2020 election results should be decertified — an unconstitutional and impossible legal maneuver.

During his work, Gableman allied himself with a group of right-wing election conspiracists that includes MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell. Among the right-wing groups he worked with are the Thomas More Society and True the Vote, an organization featured in the disproven election conspiracy film “2000 Mules”.

Representatives from True the Vote appeared alongside Gableman’s attorney, James Bopp, at a hearing of the Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections earlier this year. The group falsely alleges that it can prove absentee ballots were fraudulently cast in 2020 by using cell phone tracking data. True the Vote regularly refers to the practice of having someone else return a voter’s absentee ballot as “ballot trafficking” or “ballot harvesting.”

This practice, which is also known as ballot return assistance, is often the only way the voters with disabilities can cast a vote. Last week, a federal judge signaled he’d protect disabled Wisconsin voters’ ability to return their ballots this way.

Gableman and the Thomas More Society worked closely during the review. Gableman’s OSC and the society shared office space while lawyers for the Chicago-based organization helped Gableman conduct interviews with senior citizens the group alleges shouldn’t have been able to vote in 2020.

Last week, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Gableman started working for the Thomas More Society after he was fired by Vos.

Vos withdraws subpoenas, ending Gableman election review was originally published by the Wisconsin Examiner.

2 thoughts on “Vos Withdraws Subpoenas, Ends Gableman Probe”

  1. Jeff in Brown Deer says:

    Isn’t it time that we the citizens start to bring lawsuits against these Republicans that continue to use taxpayer money for their little fantasies?

  2. rubiomon@gmail.com says:

    Why haven’t criminal theft charges been filed against Bozo Gableman? This loser stole almost a million dollars of OUR money. And sniveling “Popcorn Man” Vos was an accomplice. Lock ‘em up!

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