Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he expects the special counsel Republicans hired to investigate the 2020 election will issue a report on his findings by the end of February.
But Vos said that won’t be the end of the investigation by former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, whom Vos hired last summer amid pressure from Republican activists and former President Donald Trump. Gableman, a supporter of Trump, began to cast doubt on the 2020 election shortly after President Joe Biden’s victory.
Gableman’s original contract ran through last October, but Vos has since said the two verbally extended the agreement. The agreement set aside up to $676,000 in taxpayer funding for Gableman’s office.
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Republicans originally said Gableman’s findings would help them draft legislation to address future elections, but the Legislature is tentatively scheduled to hold its last session days of the year in March.
Vos, a Republican from Rochester, told WISN-AM radio in Milwaukee that he’s been in regular contact with Gableman and believed he would produce his final report by the end of February.
“Now, just because he issues a report doesn’t mean he’s done,” Vos said. “We still have subpoenas that are out there. We still have lawsuits that have been filed by the left, you know. It’s not going to end until we go through this entire process.”
Gableman’s investigation has indeed been the subject of multiple court cases, including one he instigated himself.
Multiple judges in Dane County are hearing lawsuits by the liberal watchdog group American Oversight that allege Vos and Gableman have withheld or deleted records related to the investigation. Gableman has sued the mayors of Madison and Green Bay in a case that started when he issued subpoenas to the city leaders, threatening them with jail time if they did not comply. The next hearing in that case isn’t until April 22.
Gableman has also subpoenaed members of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, members of Gov. Tony Evers’ administration, and representatives of voting machine companies among others. Vos said Friday that “we’ve issued over 100 subpoenas,” but he didn’t go into detail.
Vos’ agreement with Gableman has been criticized by Democrats and by at least some members of the GOP base but for dramatically different reasons.
Democrats say the Gableman contract is a waste of money and the entire investigation is a sham that could do lasting damage to democracy in Wisconsin.
Some Republican activists say the deal gives Vos too much power over Gableman’s investigation. Among the Republicans in that camp is state Rep. Timothy Ramthun, R-Campbellsport, the election conspiracist who has called on the Legislature to decertify Biden’s victory and recently announced his candidacy for governor.
Asked about the arrangement, Vos said he has not been managing Gableman’s investigation.
“We specifically said this is going to be his investigation,” Vos said. “We are not micromanaging it. We are not directing it.”
A handful of county Republican parties have also called on Vos to step down from his leadership position, citing his punishment of Ramthun last month. Vos stripped Ramthun of his only full-time legislative employee at the state Capitol after the lawmaker began criticizing Vos in a series of press releases under the heading “Let There Be Light.” Ramthun accused Vos of acting illegally when his attorney endorsed the use of drop boxes in the 2020 election and suggested Vos’ role at the National Conference of State Legislatures had led to their use in Wisconsin.
Vos said he thought Republicans who were mad at him were frustrated because they mistakenly believed he’s capable of overturning the 2020 election.
“They believe that somehow, if I just took a vote, I could overturn and put Donald Trump back in office,” Vos said. “It is impossible.”
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