Retired state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman over the weekend took aim at Gov. Tony Evers for the Democratic governor’s criticism of the ongoing Republican-ordered investigation into the 2020 presidential election, with Gableman accusing Evers of having “an incomplete and misguided view” of the election probe.
In a video posted on YouTube Saturday, Gableman also claimed, without providing evidence, that the investigation had found “compelling evidence that Wisconsin’s election laws were not properly followed by election officials at both the state and local levels.”
“There is also evidence that ambiguities in the law were expansively interpreted so much so to potentially undermine ballot security measures,” Gableman said in the video, without providing specifics.
A recount and court decisions have affirmed that President Biden defeated Donald Trump in Wisconsin by almost 21,000 votes. Four voters out of roughly 3 million who cast ballots have been charged with fraud.
Gableman, who was hired by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, has faced his share of criticism for the ongoing election probe, due in part to his hiring of Andrew Kloster, a Republican attorney and former member of President Trump’s administration, for the effort. Vos has allocated nearly $680,000 in taxpayer money for the one-party investigation.
Evers in late September described Gableman’s investigation as a “$700,000 boondoggle” after Gableman said the burden will be placed on local election clerks to prove that the 2020 election was conducted fairly, with Evers called “a bit outrageous.”
“If I was a clerk I’d be lawyered up and make sure that you’re doing the right thing,” Evers told reporters at the World Dairy Expo last month. “I hate to see an inquisition like this, especially when you’re being told you have to prove it was a good election. Everybody knows it was a good election. Everybody knows there was no fraud.”
Gableman on Saturday responded to Evers’ comments that local election officials should have no reason to be concerned of the investigation “if they complied with the law.”
“If the governor believes that it has been proven the election has been conducted flawlessly, then he is completely ignorant to the concerns of Wisconsin voters who have great concerns regarding the sanctity and the security of their vote,” he said.
In a video last month, Gableman said he’s not trying to overturn the election results, even though he told Trump supporters in November, without evidence, that he thought the election had been stolen.
Gableman has said he plans to look into advice the bipartisan state Elections Commission gave to clerks, and donations the Facebook-funded nonprofit Center for Tech and Civic Life gave to Wisconsin communities, to help run the 2020 election.
On Saturday, Gableman said the alternative to his investigation would be to look the other way “while millions of dollars in private funds may have bene used in the public management of elections to achieve a preferred outcome at the expense of election integrity.”
“If indeed this occurred would be the true definition of a boondoggle and it would also mark the beginning of tyranny and the end of the American experiment in democracy,” Gableman said.
Evers’ spokesperson Britt Cudaback said in a statement said the video further underscores that Gableman “has predetermined the results of this sham review.”
“This video only further underscores the governor’s comments that this is a $700,000 boondoggle on taxpayer dime to confirm what independent reviews have already proven: Wisconsin had a free, fair, and secure election, and President Biden won,” Cudaback said.
Republicans have claimed CTCL essentially took over administration of the 2020 election, specifically in Green Bay, but the city has said the allegations are completely without merit, and that it followed state and federal laws. A federal judge found nothing in the law to prohibit use of the grant money.
A 2021 report from the conservative Wisconsin Spotlight claimed that grant money from the CTCL led to “Democrat activists infiltrating the November presidential election” prompted some Republican legislators this year to call for Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich’s resignation.
The city of Green Bay and Democrats, however, have said the Wisconsin Spotlight report made “egregious and false accusations” about the integrity of the November election in Green Bay, that the city followed state and federal laws, and that the allegations are “completely without merit.”
The mayors and clerks in Madison, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Racine and Kenosha had been ordered by Gableman to testify as part of the investigation later this month. But in an about-face last Thursday, investigation officials said the investigation had backed off its initial request for interviews to only include records the city already has produced in response to public records requests, rather than interviews and hundreds of thousands of election-related documents.
Gableman on Saturday said the investigation is not a prosecution and city clerks and mayors who have been subpoenaed will be granted immunity.
Rep. Janel Brandtjen, R-Menomonee Falls, who chairs the Assembly Campaigns and Elections Committee and has tried to subpoena voting machines, ballots and other election data in two counties, pushed back against Gableman’s comments. Brandtjen, whose subpoenas have not been signed by Vos and have been rejected by the counties, said in a Monday statement she does not approve of Gableman’s promise for immunity.
Brandtjen also criticized Gableman for comments he made in a Friday interview with WISN-AM’s Dan O’Donnell calling the much-criticized election audit in Arizona led by Cyber Ninjas, a small cybersecurity firm based in Florida, a waste of funds.
“Even Justice Gableman seems to find it difficult to have a ‘comprehensive understanding of how elections work,’ Brandtjen said in reference to comments Gableman made last week to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “A cyber forensic audit, including the recounting of physical ballots and an audit of the machines, would finally rebuild trust in Wisconsin elections.”