Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says he’s “gone above and beyond” to comply with the open records law after a Dane County Court judge rejected a request to continue pressing him for more documents related to Justice Michael Gableman’s 2020 election review.
Vos said in a statement to WisPolitics.com his office turned over all the documents it had regarding American Oversight’s request for email and phone records between Vos and Gableman during his probe into the 2020 presidential elections.
“Once again we complied with the judge’s order and turned over what was requested. At this point, we have gone above and beyond what is required by the Open Records law,” Vos said.
American Oversight spokesman Jack Patterson told WisPolitics.com the group is continuing to pursue all legal options to gain as many records as possible relevant to their original request.
Vos attorney Ronald Standler yesterday said Vos and two of his staffers turned over 10,000-20,000 emails, many of them duplicates, to American Oversight shortly before yesterday’s hearing.
Standler said they only did so because Dane County Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn last month held Vos and his staffers in contempt of court, ordering them to provide relevant records or prove they thoroughly searched for respondent records. If they did not comply, she said they would each face a $1,000 per day fine.
Standler also provided expert witness and cybersecurity attorney Sean Harrington, who testified it’s unlikely more records could be recovered with more scrutiny of Vos’ and his staffers’ personal phones.
After hearing Harrington’s testimony, Bailey-Rihn said “it is fairly undisputed” that it would be difficult to recover deleted texts or emails from modern phones nine months after the fact.
“I just don’t see that, at this point, any more time, expense or money is really relevant to the issues at hand to see if there’s possibly some way to recover deleted messages on a private phone,” she said.
Standler said many of the emails provided to American Oversight are duplicates, but he provided them because of last month’s agreed-upon terms to search for records relevant to American Oversight’s open records request.
“So if it hit on it, it’s been produced and that’s why there is the volume that there is,” he said.
American Oversight last year filed a request for documents related to former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman’s probe into the 2020 presidential election.
Harrington said it is “highly unlikely” experts could recover email records from Vos’ Gmail or data from Google servers if they were deleted more than 30 days ago. But to know for certain, he said he would need to examine Vos’ phone and the other two phones in question.
“It’s technologically and administratively highly unlikely that such data would be recoverable from Google’s data centers, you know, beyond 30 days and up to six months,” Harrington said.
Bailey-Rihn also raised concerns about differentiating personal communications on the phones from respondent records.
“Granted Speaker Vos is the Speaker of the House [sic], but he is also a private citizen,” she said. “And I don’t see how you can separate his private messages from his public messages if in fact you could even recover deleted messages, which I think is doubtful.”