Wisconsin Republican Assembly speaker withdraws 2020 election subpoenas, pulling plug on probe

Robin Vos fired Special Counsel Michael Gableman after eking out win over primary challenger endorsed by Gableman and former President Trump.

Published: August 26, 2022 6:29pm

Updated: August 27, 2022 11:23pm

After firing former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman from his position as special counsel in the state's 2020 presidential election probe, GOP state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has withdrawn subpoenas the investigator previously issued to the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) and the mayors of Madison and Green Bay. 

Vos sent letters to the mayors and WEC officials on Friday withdrawing the subpoenas, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. 

"The last part of the investigation was seeking compliance with the subpoenas and now they’ve been withdrawn, so the investigation is over," Gableman's attorney, James Bopp, told The Associated Press.

Gableman's subpoenas to the mayors and WEC officials were originally approved by Vos, who had appointed the former justice as the special counsel. After Vos narrowly claimed victory earlier this month over GOP primary challenger Adam Steen, who was backed by both former President Donald Trump and Gableman, he fired the special counsel and closed the office. 

According to the Sentinel, the subpoenas ordered the government officials to sit for depositions regarding grants from left-leaning nonprofit Center for Tech and Civic Life, which was the primary recipient of approximately $400 million in private funds to public election administration authorities in 2020 from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan. CTCL gave about $9 million to local election authorities in Wisconsin during the 2020 election cycle, mostly to the state's five largest cities, which are bastions of Democratic support. 

The officials questioned the legality of the subpoenas in court. Gableman had also asked for the mayors to be jailed if they refused to let him interview them, but his attorney later said his intent was only to force them to testify. 

After Gableman's firing, Waukesha County Circuit Judge Ralph Ramirez asked for an update on the litigation regarding the subpoenas, as a hearing was scheduled for Aug. 30. Gableman's attorney, James Bopp, had argued that the former justice's firing had no bearing on the work of the Office of Special Counsel and that the subpoenas were issued by the state Assembly. 

The Wisconsin Department of Justice sought to dismiss the case following Gableman's firing

"Speaker Vos has officially killed legislative oversight in Wisconsin," state Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls) told Just the News. "The election commission along with corrupt mayors now rule Wisconsin."

Vos had paused the investigation in May as litigation continued. Gableman released his 136-page report to the state Assembly in March, noting that nearly 91 nursing homes in the counties of Milwaukee, Racine, Dane, Kenosha, and Brown had voter turnout rates ranging from 95% to 100% in 2020 in an alleged ballot harvesting scheme. He also found that noncitizens had voted in the election.

Gableman had sought to continue the investigation into CTCL, voting machines, and the alleged voter fraud at the nursing homes.

Investigation of the 2020 presidential election in the state may now be irreversibly ended as the federal requirement to preserve federal election records for 22 months after an election expires on Sept. 3 for the 2020 election. 

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