On Wednesday, American Oversight filed a brief in support of our Dec. 3 motion for the court to find the Wisconsin Assembly, Speaker Robin Vos, and Clerk Edward Blazel in contempt for failing to comply with a previous order to produce records related to the ongoing inquiry into the 2020 election. The motion asks for Vos to be fined $2,000 per day until all documents responsive to American Oversight’s requests are released.
At issue are records of the contractors conducting Wisconsin’s partisan review of the 2020 election from before the creation of the Office of Special Counsel at the end of August 2021. Those contractors include Michael Gableman, the attorney who was hired to conduct the investigation and who is now acting as special counsel. American Oversight has requested multiple categories of documents under Wisconsin’s open records law, including Gableman’s communications, expenditures, and weekly investigative reports, which he was obligated to produce to the Assembly under the terms of his original contract. To date, none of those weekly reports have been released, and questions remain about what outside individuals or organizations have been involved in the probe.
During testimony on Jan. 24, Vos’s aide, Steve Fawcett, testified that the speaker had done little to verify that Gableman or other contractors had accurately and entirely responded to public records requests that had been submitted by American Oversight and that were the subject of the court’s order. Fawcett said that he had not given Gableman any parameters to search for the documents we requested, and that he did essentially nothing to ensure Gableman turned over all of the public records. Dane County Circuit Court Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn said during that hearing that she would rule on the contempt motion after receiving further briefs from both parties. The date of that ruling has yet to be determined.
The filing comes in one of three lawsuits that American Oversight has been forced to bring against Vos, the Wisconsin Assembly and its clerk, and the Office of Special Counsel to attempt to compel the release of public records related to the election investigation. Last week, a different judge ordered the release of more than 700 pages of public records that had been in the custody of the Office of Special Counsel.
Read more about our public records work in Wisconsin here.