A Dane County judge has given Assembly Speaker Robin Vos until June to ask Michael Gableman to answer questions about records in the former state Supreme Court justice’s 2020 election investigation.
Yesterday’s hearing was part of an ongoing lawsuit by the liberal group American Oversight against Vos over open records requests by the Washington, D.C.-based group.
Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn’s order requires Vos to obtain a sworn affidavit proving he asked Gableman about the records in order to avoid being held in contempt of court a second time. The affidavit requires Vos to ask Gableman to provide evidence he followed the state’s open records law and searched for deleted documents relating to American Oversight’s open records request. If Vos doesn’t obtain the affidavit, Bailey-Rihn said she would also consider imposing monetary fines.
“My biggest concern is I still don’t have anything from Mr. Gableman as to what the heck he did,” Bailey-Rihn said.
Previously, Gableman attorney James Bopp in a letter wrote the office of Special Counsel deletes “any unnecessary records” it receives, as well as those determined to be “irrelevant or useless” to the investigation. He also argued in the letter Gableman’s office isn’t bound by the state’s open records law.
In April, Dane County Judge Frank Remington in a separate lawsuit ordered Gableman not to delete records in the probe.
Vos’ attorney Ronald Stadler yesterday argued again that he doesn’t have control over Gableman.
“It isn’t as simple as Commissioner Gordon turning on the bat light and summoning Batman. Somebody has to see it and somebody has to respond to it,” Stadler said.
Bailey-Rihn said though she is somewhat sympathetic to Vos and the Assembly’s situation, they are responsible for Gableman because he is their contractor. She also argued Gableman is not comparable to Batman because he is known to the public.
“He doesn’t have an alternate identity that’s hidden in the shadows. I think the open records law was designed to bring sunshine into state government for everyone,” Bailey-Rihn said.
American Oversight Chief Counsel Dan Schwager in a statement slammed Vos for not doing more to obtain records.
“Speaker Vos’s unwillingness to take the basic steps necessary to get these records released demonstrates a clear contempt for the law and Wisconsin voters,” Schwager said. “It’s time for Speaker Vos and the Assembly to stop letting Mr. Gableman hide the ball, and comply with the public’s right to transparency.”