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Wisconsin lawmakers get update on GOP-ordered election investigation



FILE - Screenshot of Michael Gableman video from YouTube

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The leader of the Republican-ordered investigation into the 2020 presidential election told Wisconsin lawmakers on Wednesday that his probe is expanding and claimed some were trying to obstruct his work.

Former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman provided an update on his probe during testimony before the Assembly Elections Committee. It marked the first time that Gableman has publicly briefed lawmakers.

His testimony came hours after Senate Republicans subpoenaed Madison officials for absentee ballot certificates and other election records they did not turn over to the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau. Republican senators launched their own investigation, separate from Gableman’s, in the wake of that audit.

Gableman told lawmakers that his investigation will now include allegations brought last month from the Racine County sheriff that the state elections commission failed to follow the law by not sending poll workers to nursing homes for absentee voting, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

Gableman shared few details about his investigation during his testimony.

“There are going to be times where information should not be shared in real-time,” he said when asked if he will commit to holding interviews and meetings related to the investigation in a public setting.

Gableman also sidestepped Democratic committee members’ questions regarding who is working with him on the investigation.

“I’m not prepared to give you those names at this time,” Gableman said.

Rep. Jodi Emerson, D-Eau Claire, said she was “very disappointed” that Gableman was not willing to share the names of those working on the investigation, which has been allocated $676,000 in taxpayer funds.

Accompanying Gableman on Wednesday was attorney Clint Lancaster, who had not previously been known as a member of Gableman’s investigation.

According to his website, Lancaster’s former clients include “two reality stars from MTV’s 16 and Pregnant, an NFL linebacker, a forward for a EuroLeague team, and numerous high profile/high stakes cases garnering national media attention,” Wisconsin Public Radio reported.

Gableman’s investigation largely focuses on how the 2020 election was conducted, with a specific focus on Center for Tech and Civic Life grants provided to the state’s five largest cities. Gableman said on Wednesday his investigation also will look into electronic voting machines and the Wisconsin Elections Commission’s guidance and handling of the 2020 election.

Gableman has said he’s not trying to overturn the election results, even though he told Trump supporters last November, without evidence, that he thought the election had been stolen.

A recount and court decisions have affirmed that President Joe Biden defeated former President Donald Trump in Wisconsin by almost 21,000 votes. Four voters out of roughly 3 million who cast ballots have been charged with fraud.

While Gableman’s investigation was originally planned to be finished by the end of October, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said last month it may now be completed before the end of the year. Gableman did not answer reporters’ questions Wednesday as to when the probe might be finished.

Last month, Attorney General Josh Kaul, who represents the Wisconsin Elections Commission in his official capacity, raised legal concerns with the investigation. He said the administrator of the elections commission wouldn’t provide testimony behind closed doors. Shortly after, Kaul asked a court to block Gableman’s subpoenas.

Gableman decried those actions as a major impediment to his efforts.

“I am finding I am running up against very powerful forces to obstruct,” Gableman said.

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, in response to the GOP-issued subpoena, said in a statement that the Audit Bureau is welcome to examine copies of election documents, but reiterated that the city stands by its position that federal and state laws require clerks to maintain control over election records.

“It’s unfortunate and concerning that a few people running elections think they are more important than the electorate,” said Senate President Chris Kapenga, who signed the subpoena. He later added, “We are not playing games, and there will be consequences if they don’t comply.”

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