Madison’s mayor calls Michael Gableman’s subpoena seeking reams of documents related to the 2020 election a “mockery” as the former Supreme Court justice moved to widen his probe.
Gableman, who has already subpoenaed the clerks in five Wisconsin cities, sent additional subpoenas to the mayors and the person “most knowledgeable in regard to the November 2020” election from each community to appear at his office on Oct. 22 with a host of documents.
Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway at a press conference near the Capitol Wednesday slammed Gableman’s request for hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, adding she’s unsure if the city will be able to comply with Gableman’s deadline.
She also said the Brookfield meeting later this month should be open to the public.
“If I’m going to go to Brookfield and spend my time in a strip mall answering questions, I think that room should be open to the public and I think it should be open to the press,” she said.
The moves come as Gableman signaled it was no longer realistic to complete his review of the election by the end of October as Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, originally envisioned.
And Dems teed off on Gableman for an interview he did with Gannett ahead of last night’s Green Bay City Council meeting in which he said, “Most people, myself included, do not have a comprehensive understanding or even any understanding of how elections work.”
Sen. Melissa Agard, D-Madison, tweeted in response to Gableman’s comment, “This is a waste of tax payer dollars and government resources. Enough is enough. It’s time to put The Big Lie to bed.”
The subpoenas mayors and other city officials received are similar to ones Gableman sent to the clerks in Green Bay, Kenosha, Madison, Milwaukee and Racine.
All five received the bulk of the grants the Center for Tech and Civic Life sent to some 200 Wisconsin communities to help cover the costs of putting on an election during a pandemic.
The subpoenas seek testimony on:
*how the election was conducted;
*all private funding the cities received;
*information on how the five coordinated efforts related to the administration of the election; and
*communications with the Wisconsin Elections Commission as well as various private entities.
The subpoena also seeks documents related to the same topics.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said in a statement, “The Mayor’s Office has been open and transparent about the administration of elections in Milwaukee and, following consultation with the City Attorney’s Office, will provide an appropriate answer to the Committee.”
Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian called the burden being put on the city “a colossal waste of time and money.” He pointed out U.S. Judge William Griesbach last fall rejected a lawsuit seeking to prevent the cities from using the private funds to cover election costs. Griesbach ruled that while there may be the appearance of impropriety, there was no explicit ban on the communities accepting the fund.
Antaramian’s statement quoted Griesbach’s ruling that plaintiffs had “offered only a political argument for prohibiting municipalities from accepting money from private entities to assist in the funding of elections for public offices.”
In comments to the Green Bay City Council Tuesday night, Gableman insisted his probe wasn’t adversarial and said he was willing to work out a time with city officials that was convenient for them to meet.
But he also warned he would compel those targeted to comply with the subpoenas if necessary.
Gableman also said he’d like nothing more than to complete a report that showed the elections were run properly even as he said there’s already evidence that election officials decided to act unilaterally to not follow established state law. Pressed by one alderman for details, Gableman urged him to do an internet search of various complaints raised about the 2020 election in Wisconsin, but didn’t provide specifics.
He was also asked about various errors in the documents he sent to clerks, including misspellings. The cover letter sent last month to clerks and the Wisconsin Elections Commission all referenced questions about how the election in Green Bay was conducted and included the subject line “Subpoena deuces tecum.” A subpoena duces tecum requires the witness to produce a document or documents pertinent to a proceeding. The subpoena included the correct spelling.
Gableman chalked it up to the “human condition” and not being perfect.
Vos originally said he hoped Gableman would complete the probe by the end of October so lawmakers could consider his findings in taking up legislation looking at election procedures.
Gableman told the council last night an Oct. 31 deadline was unrealistic.
“I don’t want to drag this out any longer than it has to,” he said.
Vos in a statement said he would consider an extension.
“The goal remains the same, but if he needs more time we will consider it as his contract goes until the end of the year,” Vos said.
Watch Gableman’s appearance before the Green Bay Common Council; his comments begin at the 1 hour, 50-minute mark: