Ballots are stored in boxes and bags as workers recount Milwaukee County's ballots at the Wisconsin Center. Photo by Adam Kelnhofer, WisPolitics.com, Nov. 23, 2020.

Former Justice Michael Gableman is trying to make an example of the Green Bay and Madison mayors by seeking to have them jailed unless they don’t agree to testify for him, his office tells WisPolitics.com.

Gableman’s review of the 2020 election has focused on five cities that received private money through a group Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg funded and has issued subpoenas to all of them.

During testimony before an Assembly committee last week, Gableman says he has received “straightforward cooperation” from Kenosha but little or no help from the other four communities targeted: Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee and Racine. He added the clerks and mayors from Green Bay and Madison have failed “without reason or excuse to appear for their depositions.”

The subpoenas sought depositions from the mayors, clerks and the person most knowledgeable about the 2020 elections.

The Gableman spokesman said none of those officials from the five cities has provided depositions to the office to date. But the other three communities have acted in “good faith” compared to Green Bay and Madison.

“The Office of the Special Counsel is seeking to enforce the legislative subpoenas in courts only against those cities which have explicitly said that they would not comply because it’s such an important legal principle to vindicate,” the spokesman said.

But Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said the city has been clear it’s willing to provide testimony to Gableman’s office. It simply wants it done in public before a legislative committee. The city sent Gableman’s office a letter in early November stating its understanding that no one was required to appear at the former justice’s Brookfield office Nov. 15 for a private deposition “unless we are provided with a more specific scope of inquiry and reach an agreement on other issues such as the format and length of any deposition.”

“If they would like to invite me to come and talk to a legislative committee on these issues, I would be absolutely happy to do that,” Rhodes-Conway said. “I can just walk up the street and have that conversation. I’m pretty proud of the election.”

Gableman records obtained by the liberal American Oversight included correspondence between the former justice’s office and Kenosha offices about trying to reschedule a deposition for the mayor and person most knowledgeable about the 2020 election for Nov. 9. But the city administrator told WisPolitics.com the depositions had been canceled and if further information was needed or a new one scheduled, Gableman’s office would notify Kenosha officials.

Meanwhile, attorneys for Eric Genrich last week insisted the Green Bay mayor had acted “reasonably” in response to the subpoena. That includes producing nearly 20,000 pages of documents.

Both prompted WisPolitics.com to ask Gableman’s office why he was seeking to compel only the mayors of Green Bay and Madison to testify. A scheduling hearing on his petition is scheduled for Friday.

Rhodes-Conway insisted Madison’s response to the subpoena has been similar to other communities. It produced records, but also sought assurances on the parameters of a deposition before agreeing to one.

Officials for Milwaukee and Racine didn’t respond to requests for comment Monday and yesterday.

“I think if Madison is an example of anything, it’s an example of a city that’s done an excellent job of running secure, safe and fair elections,” she said.

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