Gableman to assign 5 mayors as part of Wisconsin election review
GREEN BAY – The lawyer leading a partisan electoral review announced Tuesday that he is subpoenaing five Wisconsin mayors, just days after asking for files from city clerks and the top election official in the state.
Former state Supreme Court justice Michael Gableman told Green Bay Common Council in a meeting Tuesday night that he had just subpoenaed Mayor Eric Genrich – only to learn from the mayor that the subpoena had not been served. Gableman promised it would happen soon, as did the mayors of Milwaukee, Madison, Racine and Kenosha.
“So if that hasn’t been served today, you can expect it shortly,” Gableman told the board.
Gableman, who claimed last year without evidence that the election was stolen, issues his subpoenas in a $ 676,000 taxpayer-funded investigation into the election Joe Biden won by 0 , 6 percentage point. Recounts and a series of court rulings confirmed Biden’s victory over Donald Trump.
Gableman’s comments on the new subpoenas came as state election officials consider how they might comply with those he released on Friday that order them to turn over “all documents in your records and / or in your custody, possession or control relating to the Election. “
This includes hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of pages of documents for the state and its five largest cities.
During an unscheduled 30-minute question-and-answer session with the board, Gableman outlined his plans for his review, telling members he was not pursuing an “adversarial process.”
“I happened to be in town for other meetings and I heard you were meeting and thought I would come and introduce myself,” he said.
Gableman said those who grant him interviews will enjoy immunity from prosecution. He added that he did not think he could meet the deadline set by Assembly President Robin Vos to conclude his review by the end of the month.
Gableman, who is paid $ 11,000 a month, did not say how long he thought his job would take.
Gableman said he plans to review the advice given by the bipartisan State Election Commission to clerks and donations the nonprofit Center for Tech and Civic Life has given to communities in Wisconsin to help organize the 2020 election. He called the voting machines an “important area of investigation” but did not say whether he would attempt to seize them from election officials, as some Republicans have demanded.
In an interview, Gableman did not explain what his plans were with the voting machines.
“Voting machines are certainly a topic of interest expressed by a lot of people and I have already said that yes, at some point I will consider the question of voting on all issues,” he said.
After meeting behind closed doors, the council voted to obtain free legal assistance from Law Forward, the United States United Democracy Center and Stafford Rosenbaum.
Law Forward, of Madison, and States United, of Washington, DC, are nonprofit legal entities that have criticized Gableman’s review. Stafford Rosenbaum is a Madison-based law firm.
Election officials think about what to do
Election officials in other parts of the state similarly assess what to do with subpoenas that have already been issued.
Madison City District Attorney Michael Haas said he hoped to discuss how to meet the request for documents with Gableman or his associates, but didn’t know how to reach them.
He said he left a voicemail message Tuesday on the election fraud hotline they set up because it was the only number they gave him. Gableman referred to the post at the Green Bay council meeting and said he would respond soon.
Gableman asked at least eight officials to provide him with files and testify to him on October 15 at a Brookfield office. He indicated in a recent YouTube video that he would conduct his work in secret.
Haas said he was investigating whether Gableman had the ability to take depositions privately or without the presence of the Assembly Elections Committee. He said he saw no reason for City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl to testify behind closed doors.
“In general, I think transparency in the handling of elections is a good goal to achieve,” said Haas, former director of the state election commission.
Gableman’s subpoenas last week were made to the director of the State Election Commission, the director of the Milwaukee Election Commission and municipal clerks in Madison, Green Bay, Kenosha and Racine. They also went to see a second Racine official and Milwaukee City Clerk Jim Owczarski, although Owczarski has no electoral duties.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Gableman played down errors in his subpoenas, calling the spelling mistake of an official’s name a “relatively minor scrivener error.”
“I can explain,” he told the council. “It’s called the human condition. I’m not perfect. You aren’t perfect. No one in this room is perfect. We’ve only had one perfect man in this world and look. what we did to him. “
The subpoenas from last week ordered officials to meet him at an office in a shared workspace that is also listed as the address of a liposuction clinic and a couples therapist.
Ann Jacobs, the chairman of the bipartisan State Election Commission, questioned Gableman’s ability to issue registration requests of such magnitude.
“I have no idea how you could possibly subpoena every election-related file and order that it be moved to a Regus office suite that you share with a liposuction clinic,” she said. .
Jacobs, a Democrat, wondered how Gableman could get election officials to speak to him, rather than a legislative committee.
“I haven’t seen any support for the proposition that you can compel people to come and testify before an investigator in an office in Brookfield. It’s a bit of a star chamber if that was the case, that you might be compelled. to testify in a secret dark room somewhere without any public record, ”she said, referring to England’s secret court in the 16th century.
What precisely Gableman is authorized to do is unclear, as reviews like his are so rare in Wisconsin. The subpoenas he issued are the first to come from the Wisconsin Legislature in about 50 years.
Gableman has not disclosed who works for him and the public records that have been released so far have not shed light on who is on his payroll.
Five other people attended Tuesday’s meeting with Gableman. Among them was Zak Niemierowicz, who called city officials earlier today to tell them that at least two people from Gableman’s office were planning to attend the meeting, according to city clerk Celestine Jeffreys. It was not immediately clear who the other four were.