A judge in Wisconsin has denied a request from Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul to block a subpoena of the state’s top elections official in an investigation of the 2020 presidential election led by former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman.
The ruling means Gableman can continue with his plans to interview Meagan Wolfe, Wisconsin’s elections commission administrator, unless the other legal challenges to his other subpoenas affect his authority in conducting the investigation.
Kaul had filed a lawsuit to block the subpoena that would require a private interview and documents from Wolfe pertaining to the election, information Wolfe and other elections officials said they have already provided.
In his arguments, Kaul said any interview would have to be done in public in front of the state Assembly elections committee and also said the subpoena was too vague and broad, accusing the investigation of being motivated by “debunked theories” about the 2020 election, according to the Associated Press.
Dane County Circuit Judge Rhonda Lanford said Kaul had not met the standard that is a requirement that would allow for the subpoena to be blocked. Kaul didn’t effectively show that Wolfe would suffer “irreparable harm” if she complied with the subpoena and testified.
President Joe Biden won Wisconsin by nearly 21,000 votes, an outcome that has withstood recounts and numerous lawsuits. An Associated Press review of battleground states contested by Trump, including Wisconsin, found too few cases of fraud to affect the outcome.
Republicans have called for a number of election reviews, including the ongoing one led by Gableman. The Legislature’s nonpartisan Audit Bureau found no widespread fraud and neither did a report by the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty.
In a blow to Gableman on Monday, the judge refused to dismiss the lawsuit as he requested and said she could reconsider her decision later if he attempts to enforce the subpoenas before the legal challenge to the subpoenas runs its course.
“It is my hope that former Justice Gableman will withdraw these unnecessary subpoenas rather than continuing to litigate over them,” Kaul said in a statement reacting to the ruling. Kaul represents Wolfe and the elections commission.
Gableman did not immediately return a request for comment.
Reacting to the ruling, Wolfe said the elections commission continued to have a “strong preference for providing testimony in public rather than behind closed doors.”
“We’ve already provided Special Counsel Gableman with documents and data, and conversations are ongoing regarding additional document production,” she said.
The investigation was supposed to be complete by the end of December, but now Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says he wants a report by the end of February so the Legislature can act in March on any recommendations.
Vos hired Gableman, allocating $676,000 in taxpayer money for the investigation into the election to address concerns brought forward primarily by conservatives. Democrats have dismissed the probe as a political move designed to perpetrate the lie that the election was stolen from former President Donald Trump.
Gableman issued subpoenas to mayors and elections officials in Wisconsin’s five largest cities, as well as to Wolfe, administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission. Gableman filed a separate pending lawsuit in the state’s Waukesha County asking a judge to jail the mayors of Madison and Green Bay if they don’t comply.
The mayors argue that they have cooperated with Gableman as requested. Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich is seeking sanctions for Gableman over what the mayor contends are lies he’s made about his response to the subpoena. The judge in that case scheduled a hearing for January 21.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.