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.

A Dane County judge has found Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and the Assembly in contempt for failing to release records related to the ongoing probe into the 2020 election despite an order directing that.

The Washington, D.C.-based liberal group American Oversight sought the contempt order two weeks ago after not receiving records it requested from Vos and contractors, including former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman.

Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn in her ruling said Vos and the Assembly “have chosen to willfully violate a court order and are held in contempt.”

Bailey-Rihn gave Vos and the chamber 14 days to prove they have complied with the order to avoid a $1,000-per-day fine. Vos and the Assembly were also ordered to cover American Oversight’s costs and fees related to seeking the contempt order.

In a Twitter thread, American Oversight slammed the probe, saying it spread misinformation about the election and is being used to push changes to voting laws that would make it harder to vote.

“Transparency is vital to expose misinformation and partisanship,” the group said. “Today’s ruling is an important step in ensuring the public can evaluate the election review’s processes and findings for itself.”

Bailey-Rihn’s order said Vos and the Assembly have been “evading responsibilities” to produce the records.

She noted Vos during testimony in January did not offer strong evidence his office made an effort to comply with a previous order that Vos provide the records.

“That testimony revealed a collective and abject disregard for the Court’s order: Robin Vos had delegated the search for contractors’ records to an employee who did nothing more than send one vague email to one contractor,” Bailey-Rihn noted in her order.

The order said that “[p]utting aside for the moment the impropriety of making a contractor responsible for a records request … Robin Vos did not tell that contractor which records to produce, did not ask any of the other contractors to produce records, and did not even review the records ultimately received. Still worse, the assembly did nothing at all.”

To clear the contempt, Bailey-Rihn wrote Vos and the Assembly must:

*provide proof to a reasonable degree of certainty that they have complied with their duties under the public records law to search for responsive records created by their current and/or former contractors;
*submit evidentiary proof of reasonable efforts to search for deleted, lost, missing, or otherwise unavailable records, or provide an explanation of why such a search would not be reasonable; and
*provide a sworn affidavit describing the steps taken to comply with each of these purge conditions.

If they find relevant records in their search, Bailey-Rihn ordered they not withhold them from American Oversight.

See the order here.

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