The Office of Special Counsel created by Wisconsin Republicans to investigate the state’s 2020 election will not go away for the foreseeable future.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said Tuesday that the office headed by former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman would remain open even though Gableman’s amended contract is set to expire.
Gableman was originally hired under a contract that expired October 31, 2021. Vos and Gableman recently extended the deal through April 30.
Gableman, a supporter of former President Donald Trump, had openly lobbied to keep his office open. Earlier this month, he was a guest on former Trump adviser Steve Bannon’s podcast, where he urged listeners to contact Vos to keep the office open. At the time, Gableman said Vos planned to pick up office equipment from Gableman’s Brookfield office by April 26.
On Monday, Trump himself released a statement backing Gableman and issuing a political threat to Republicans who don’t support him.
“Anyone who calls themselves a Republican in Wisconsin should support the continuation of the investigation in Wisconsin without interference,” read Trump’s written statement. “I understand that some RINOs have primary opponents in Wisconsin. I’m sure their primary opponents would get a huge boost in the polls if those RINOs step in.”
The acronym “RINO” refers to “Republicans in name only”.
Rep. Janel Brandtjen, R-Menomonee Falls, also released a statement Monday calling on Vos to allow Gableman’s investigation to continue, saying that if he didn’t, he would “legalize” cheating.
On Tuesday, Vos challenged the idea that he was preparing to close Gableman’s office.
“The media reports and Rep. Brandtjen’s statement were incorrect,” Vos said. “The Office of Special Counsel will remain open as we secure the legal power of our legislative subpoenas and work through the other lawsuits that have crippled this investigation.”
Vos also thanked Gableman for offering to take a pay cut.
“Our intention is to stay within the original budget allocated for the survey,” Vos said.
Gableman’s initial taxpayer-funded contract limited expenses to $676,000, but Vos imposed no limit on legal fees in court cases related to the investigation. Gableman’s investigation has been the subject of several open lawsuits, and Gableman himself has filed a lawsuit seeking to jail several election workers and mayors if they fail to comply with subpoenas for private depositions. . LINKS HERE
Tuesday was not the first time Vos has pledged to fight the lawsuits to completion. Vos issued a similar statement in March before renewing Gableman’s contract.
Democratic state Rep. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, said Vos chose to let extremists working to undermine democracy dictate how Wisconsin taxpayers’ money is spent.
“Under pressure from former President Trump and the far right, President Vos decided to continue wasting taxpayers’ money in order to appease conspiracy theorists,” Spreitzer said. in a tweet.
This legal fight is almost certain to continue for at least a few months, if not longer.
On Tuesday afternoon, Dane County Judge Frank Remington held a hearing for one of the lawsuits against Gableman, setting deadlines for a new round of legal briefs and setting a hearing in the case for 10 June. Remington recently issued an order restraining Gableman from suppressing documents in response to an open documents request from the liberal watchdog group American Oversight.
A hearing in Gableman’s subpoena trial is scheduled for July 11 before Waukesha County Judge Ralph Ramirez.
Final decisions in both cases could potentially be appealed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.