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Latest contract for Gableman election investigation has no expiration date

The contract is set to terminate 'upon conclusion of all outside lawsuits' involving the investigation

Michael Gableman stands at a podium and points around the room as he speaks. Attendees are seated behind him.
Former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman speaks Tuesday, March 1, 2022, at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

The former state supreme court justice leading a Republican investigation of the 2020 election has a new contract with the Wisconsin Assembly, and this one has no firm expiration date.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos originally hired Special Counsel Michael Gableman under a contract that expired on Oct. 31, 2021. His most recent contract expired at the end of April.

The new contract signed by Vos and Gableman is set to terminate “upon conclusion of all outside lawsuits” involving Gableman’s investigation. The contract also states that either Vos or Gableman can terminate the agreement by providing written notice to the other.

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Gableman’s office is currently involved in a handful of lawsuits, including one he brought as a plaintiff that threatens to jail the mayors of Madison, Green Bay and Racine if they don’t comply with subpoenas to sit for private interviews. Gableman’s investigation is also the subject of three open records lawsuits filed by the liberal watchdog group American Oversight.

It’s unclear how quickly some of those cases might wrap up.

In one of the cases, where Dane County Circuit Court Judge Frank Remington recently ordered Gableman not to destroy records responsive to an open records request, the next hearing is scheduled for June 10. A second judge recently issued a similar order to Wisconsin Republicans.

In Gableman’s subpoena lawsuit, which is being heard by Waukesha County Judge Ralph Ramirez, the next hearing isn’t scheduled until July 11.

Gableman’s salary under the new contract will be $5,500, down from $11,000 monthly under the previous contract. The new agreement also sets aside $2,500 per month to cover Gableman’s rent.

The contract states that Gableman “will continue to work on, research, and execute any other legal duties related to legal challenges” for the duration of the agreement.

Vos told the Associated Press that Gableman’s investigation will be paused, but the Assembly “will potentially restart the investigation” if the subpoenas are served.