Wisconsin GOP fires election investigator who pushed false fraud allegations

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MADISON, Wis. — The Republican-led review of Wisconsin’s 2020 election came to an abrupt end on Friday when the GOP Assembly Speaker who launched the inquiry last summer fired the former Supreme Court Justice of the state he had hired to run it.

The firing came a week after Michael Gableman, who led the investigation, joined former President Donald Trump in turning on President Robin Vos. amid the veteran Wisconsin politician’s efforts to fend off a primary challenge from the right.

The year-old random survey was marked by meetings with conspiracy theorists, violations of state public records laws, and a call for Gableman to explore the legally impossible task of decertifying election results. He did not uncover evidence of widespread fraud, although Trump and Gableman tried to suggest otherwise.

“After many members of our caucus have contacted me over the past few days, it is clear to me that we have only one choice in this matter, and that is to close the Office of Special Counsel.” , Vos said in a post. statement.

Vos has had a tenuous relationship with Trump, who backed the Wisconsin review but repeatedly pressed Vos to go further. Last week, Trump and Gableman endorsed the longtime president’s top Republican opponent, with the former president hosting a rally urging voters to kick Vos out.

Vos won Tuesday’s primary against Adam Steen, but just barely, claiming 51 percent of the vote. Steen had called for the election to be voided and called Vos, one of Wisconsin’s most powerful Republicans, a traitor.

The shooting marked the end of a saga that began in June 2021 when Vos, acting under pressure from Trump, announced at the state’s annual Republican Party convention that he had hired Gableman. The retired judge had previously claimed without evidence that the election was stolen.

Gableman took months to set up his office and spent the first stage of his exam researching online at a public library in suburban Milwaukee. He visited the site of a frequently criticized GOP-led ballot review in Arizona and attended a seminar in South Dakota hosted by Mike Lindell, the managing director of MyPillow who made false claims about the US election. 2020.

As he continued his review, Gableman claimed to act in a nonpartisan manner while attending Republican Party events and calling for the resignation of a Republican state senator who blasted his review as a charade. Gableman criticized the way the nonpartisan director of the state Elections Commission dresses and monitors other people’s social media posts. He or one of his assistants wrote a note speculating that a City of Milwaukee employee was a Democrat because she had a nose ring, liked snakes and lived with her boyfriend.

Gableman released a report in March calling on lawmakers to consider revoking the state’s 10 electoral votes for Joe Biden, who beat Trump in Wisconsin by about 21,000 votes. Vos had long opposed the idea because election experts — including Gableman’s own attorney, James Bopp Jr. — found there was no way to legally accomplish the task.

Gableman acknowledged his suggestion was a “practical impossibility” two weeks later in a private note to Vos that was revealed this month.

Vos forced Gableman to reimburse taxpayers for the cost of his trip to a partisan event, but publicly condoned much of Gableman’s approach to scrutiny. That changed after Gableman endorsed Steen and cut off a robocall saying Vos “never wanted a real investigation.”

Gableman went further during a Monday appearance on former Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon’s podcast, saying Vos played a role in stealing the 2020 election. of Wisconsin confirmed Biden’s victory and independent reviews found no evidence of significant voter fraud.)

“[Vos] oversaw the implementation of the entire heinous apparatus the Wisconsin Elections Commission used to steal the election — and I’m not even going to tell one candidate in particular. I will say they stole it from the voters and good citizens of the state of Wisconsin,” Gableman said.

Gableman said Vos feared receiving public criticism if he more vigorously challenged the state’s electoral system and claimed Vos told him he wanted to downplay election issues.

“What he told me was that he didn’t think the issue of election integrity was going to be a successful political platform for him or other Republicans to run on and therefore , he wanted to minimize any discussion and conduct about it before the [2022] elections,” Gableman said.

With his probe, Gableman found little new information. The reports he wrote mostly reiterated the findings of conservative groups who have criticized the conduct of elections during the coronavirus pandemic.

Vos initially gave Gableman a taxpayer-funded budget of $676,000, but Vos and Gableman soon exceeded it as their legal bills mounted. The two lost a series of rulings and were found in contempt of court after liberal watchdog group American Oversight sued them under the state’s Open Records Act.

Vos telegraphed Gableman’s dismissal after earning his first win, telling reporters Tuesday night, “He’s embarrassing to the state.”

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