MADISON, Wis. — In a public hearing Tuesday, former Wisconsin supreme court justice Michael Gableman called for a “hard look” at decertifying the election in Wisconsin–something nonpartisan legislature attorneys and Republican leadership have called a legally impossible act.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Racine) hired Gableman to lead a taxpayer-funded $676,000 review of the 2020 election in Wisconsin, despite multiple lawsuits, reviews and recounts upholding the election’s results and Biden’s victory in the state.
Vos–who has similarly stated that decertification isn’t legally possible–did not comment on Gableman’s call for considering decertification in a brief statement issued Tuesday afternoon, thanking Gableman for his service. In an appendix to his newly-released report, Gableman claimed it was legally possible to decertify an election in Wisconsin, saying Wisconsin election law neither authorizes nor prohibits it. In a tweet, Assembly majority leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) called it a “fools errand.”
“Still not legal under Wisconsin law,” he tweeted. ‘Beyond that, it would have no practical impact b/c there is no Constitutional way to remove a sitting president other than through impeachment or incapacity. Fools errand. Focus on the future.”
Gableman promotes legally-impossible theory
In his 136-page report released minutes before the Assembly Campaigns and Elections Committee hearing he was set to testify at, he said he was recommending the legislature look at decertification but that “the purpose of this Report is not to challenge certification of the Presidential election…any decisions in that vein must be made by the elected representatives of the people.”
The legally impossible attempt to decertify has become the core gubernatorial candidate platform for Rep. Timothy Ramthun (R-Kewaskum), who recently announced a run for governor with backing from MyPillow CEO and election conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell. Additionally, former president Donald Trump released a statement just before the hearing started Tuesday morning, urging anyone “who loves America” to tune in and listen.
Wisconsin Elections Commission chair, Ann Jacobs–one of three Democrat commissioners who sit on the six-member bipartisan board–called it a crazy conspiracy theory.
“This is impossible. Not legal,” she tweeted.
WOW – Gableman goes full in crazy conspiracy theory and demands that Wisconsin "Decertify" the election.
— Ann Jacobs (@AnnJacobsMKE) March 1, 2022
In the report, Gableman called for a political rather than bipartisan body to certify Wisconsin electors, writing that certification should not be subject to the “whim of the courts”.
“In the event of widespread contest, the thumb should be on the scale in favor of withholding certification of electors,” he wrote.
“This is a shocking recommendation,” Jacobs tweeted. “Phrased another way – it recommends that the popular vote in Wisconsin be merely advisory. And could/would be overridden by a partisan legislature.”
Steineke, who has announced that he will not be running for reelection, said that he would spend the last ten months of his term guaranteeing he would not be involved in any attempt to take partisan control of elections.
“In a world where partisan divides are deep & seemingly anything can be justified as long as it results in retaining power, handing authority to partisan politicians to determine if election fraud exists would be the end of our republic as we know it,” Steineke tweeted.
In his testimony before the Assembly Campaigns and Elections Committee, Gableman also called for the dismantling of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, established by the Republican-led legislature in 2015 after they dissolved the bipartisan Government Accountability Board.
In a 136-page, 13-chapter “interim” report, Gableman recommended minimizing “pre voting” and election clerks participating in “Get out the vote” activities, claiming those activities are partisan.
He also made unverified claims that “non citizens” voted in the election, which Jacobs tweeted was “completely devoid of facts or proof.”
Gableman’s testimony honed in on voting in nursing homes, which has repeatedly come under fire from Republicans since the 2020 election because of pandemic rules that didn’t send special voting deputies into residences out of safety concerns.
He played several videos of his team interviewing eight older people about their votes, saying he didn’t think they were mentally competent to do so.
“It’s really important to note on this issue around people in nursing homes that people retain the constitutional right to vote until and unless a court takes it away,” Rep. Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit) said, who sits on the elections committee.
Much of his testimony focused on already-debunked theories about the Wisconsin election, and the Wisconsin Elections Commission pushed back in a statement Tuesday saying that there was little new information that hadn’t been litigated or otherwise addressed.
“Special Counsel Gableman’s report is based upon mischaracterizations of Wisconsin election statutes and administration, and therefore, the utility of his report is minimal,” the WEC statement read. “Every decision affecting the 2020 presidential election was fully transparent and made in open meetings.”
Question of contract
Gableman said his office of special counsel would continue investigating the elections, despite not having an active contract. Vos gave him a deadline of December 2021–and then the end of February 2022–to finish his report.
He couldn’t directly answer Rep. Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit) when asked about whether he had an active contract to continue his work, which expired at the end of December. Gableman said he was talking in “good faith” with Speaker Vos about a contract extension.
“I believe that I do have a legally enforceable contract. Others would say that it ran out at the end of December,” he responded.
Gableman said in his report that he has issued 76 subpoenas seeking to force election officials, staffers, and other public officials to testify in secret, or seeking data from private companies. Lawsuits are still ongoing for some of those subpoenas, with WEC’s chief elections official Meagan Wolfe still not having submitted to private interviews in Gableman’s probe, saying–along with other public officials–that they wanted testimony to occur in public.
President Joe Biden won the statewide election by about 20,000 votes in the state of Wisconsin, and both nonpartisan and partisan reviews of the election–including one from the conservative legal group Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty–have found no evidence of widespread fraud.
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