Hours after a watchdog group sued Wisconsin Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos for not disclosing records related to an investigation he ordered into the 2020 general election, a Dane County court ordered their release.
The lawsuit, filed in Dane County Circuit Court on Friday by American Oversight, names Vos and Assembly Chief Clerk Ted Blazel, alleging they failed to comply with requests under Wisconsin’s open records law dating back to the summer.
The ensuing order signed by Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn said the defendants need to comply “immediately” with the records requests or “show cause to the contrary” at a hearing on Nov. 5.
The lawsuit came after Vos signed subpoenas sought by the attorney leading the investigation to compel testimony from top election clerks and mayors in Wisconsin’s largest cities. But in a course reversal on Thursday, another attorney working with former conservative state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman for the inquiry said nobody would have to testify for now.
“The issue is that we need our own army of local bureaucrats,” wrote attorney Andrew Kloster, who worked in former President Donald Trump‘s administration. “And we need to fight for our locales. We need our own irate hooligans (incidentally, this is why the left and our national security apparatus hates the Proud Boys) and our own captured DA offices to let our boys off the hook.”
Vos hired Gableman to investigate the November 2020 election amid pressure by Trump and conservative constituents. Gableman is being paid $11,000 a month in taxpayer funds for the investigation, which has a budget of $676,000 that could be extended.
“Wisconsin has a right to know how this taxpayer-funded investigation is being orchestrated,” said Austin Evers, executive director of American Oversight.
The watchdog’s lawsuit is similar to one filed in Arizona seeking records related to the Maricopa County audit conducted by the private firm Cyber Ninjas, a Florida-based company hired by the majority-Republican Arizona Senate to lead the election investigation.
Cyber Ninjas was widely panned for its lack of prior expertise in auditing elections. On Oct. 7, Gableman came under the same scrutiny when he told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that “no one can call elections laws common sense.”
“Once you understand them, it may be common sense, but it’s not intuitive,” Gableman said. “And so most people, myself included, do not have a comprehensive understanding or even any understanding of how elections work.”
Gableman’s admission prompted a top Democratic attorney presiding over lawsuits against GOP efforts to alter election rules to highlight his comment, questioning the former justice’s competency to lead the election review effort.
“What if Gableman is actually less competent than Cyber Ninjas?” Marc Elias wrote on Twitter last week.
After the subpoenas were rescinded last week, Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said the records requested by Gableman would have been provided if his staff had simply asked for them.
“They could have just called us up and asked for the information, which they didn’t and, as far as I have known, never have done,” she said. “And so if they need any additional information that we haven’t already produced, they really can just call us and ask, or they can make an open records request. It’s not complicated.”
President Joe Biden won Wisconsin by more than 20,000 votes in the November election.
Despite the certified electoral votes for Biden, Gableman said last month that “some evidence has been produced previously that shows some election officials acted unilaterally in deciding not to follow established state law.”
The Washington Examiner contacted Vos and Blazel about the court order but did not immediately receive a response.
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Original Author: Kaelan Deese
Original Location: Wisconsin court orders release of 2020 election investigation records