A Dane County judge on Tuesday ordered Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and his lawyer to sit for depositions in a trial by a Liberal watchdog seeking to search for public documents related to the ongoing GOP-ordered review of 2020 elections.
Circuit Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn, who last week expressed confusion over how so few documents were produced in the first three months of the former Supreme Court justice’s ongoing investigation State Representative Michael Gableman, denied a request by Vos’s attorneys and his attorney, Steve Fawcett, seeking to block deposits.
She ordered the pair to meet with attorneys for American Oversight to provide further details on how officials responded to the group’s multiple requests for public documents – and to answer questions about the existence of additional documents and on their retention or destruction.
“The citizens of Wisconsin deserve the truth,” Bailey-Rihn said. “Either these records exist or they don’t.”
The case is one of three pending lawsuits brought by American Oversight following document requests filed last year relating to the Gableman review. American Oversight prosecutors have asked that Vos be charged with contempt for failing to disclose the files earlier.
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“All of this requires some follow-up,” said Christa Westerberg, lawyer for American Oversight.
Vos’s lawyer, Ronald Stadler, said all available documents have been provided. On Tuesday, he said American Oversight’s allegations of additional documents were based on suspicion he described the lawsuit last week as a “backdoor discovery attempt.”
“It’s a fishing expedition,” Stadler said Tuesday.
The depositions, which are not open to the public, are scheduled for January 12. Bailey-Rihn said questions should focus on documents requested by American Oversight and efforts to locate the documents.
Bailey-Rihn also has a hearing scheduled for January 24 to find out how Vos and Chief Clerk of the Assembly Ted Blazel searched for documents ordered to be released in a previous court ruling nearly two months. Bailey-Rihn requested that a records custodian testify at the hearing.
The American Oversight lawsuits are part of a growing list of court battles surrounding the Gableman investigation, which focuses on some of the procedures voters and clerks relied on to lay and process the ballots. Vos, R-Rochester, allocated $ 676,000 in taxpayer money for the review, which has already taken longer than expected and will likely end up costing more.
In another sign of a protracted investigation, Gableman last week issued new subpoenas to Wisconsin Election Commission officials and a handful of cities, including Madison, looking for emails, d information on voting machines and other election-related documents.
Dane County Circuit Court Judge Rhonda Lanford plans to rule by Jan. 10 on whether Gableman has the power to demand a private in-person interview with the Wisconsin election administrator , Meagan Wolfe. The case follows Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul’s October request for a restraining order against subpoenas issued by Gableman for election-related documents and Wolfe’s interview.
In another case, a Waukesha County judge last month scheduled a Jan. 21 hearing at Gableman’s request that the Waukesha County Sheriff compel the mayors of Madison and Green Bay to meet with him, or ‘be sentenced to prison.
Reviews of the election by the non-partisan Legislative Audit Office and the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty found no evidence of widespread fraud, but led to recommendations on how elections can be improved. Earlier this month, the committee took the first steps to draft business rules on a number of issues raised in the Audit Office’s report, including rules governing the use of ballot boxes and missing information that clerks can fill out mail ballots on the envelopes.
A recount and court rulings claimed President Biden defeated former President Donald Trump in Wisconsin by nearly 21,000 votes.
An Associated Press analysis found only 31 potential cases of voter fraud in the 2020 Wisconsin election, which is less than 0.15% of Biden’s margin of victory.
The state has several overlapping safeguards aimed at preventing ineligible voters from voting, tampering with ballots, or altering the number of votes.
Nothing in the emails suggests that there were issues with the election that significantly contributed to Trump’s loss of 20,682 votes to Joe Biden.
“Despite concerns about statewide election procedures, this audit showed us that the election was largely safe and secure,” Senator Rob Cowles said on Friday.
The grants were made to all municipalities in Wisconsin that requested them, and in the amounts they requested.
“The application of US Department of Justice guidelines among Wisconsin clerks is inconsistent,” the memo reads.
“To put it simply, we did not break the law,” said the chairman of the electoral commission.
The memo says state law gives the Audit Office full access to all records during an audit investigation, and federal law and guidelines do not prohibit an election official from handing over electoral records.
Drop boxes have been used throughout Wisconsin, including in areas where Trump won the vast majority of counties.
Thousands of voting certificates examined from Madison are a window into how election officials have handled a pandemic and a divided and unnecessary state government.
“I don’t think you inspire confidence in a process by blindly assuming that there is nothing to see here,” said WILL president and general counsel Rick Esenberg.
The Associated Press has examined all potential cases of voter fraud in six battlefield states – Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvan…