American Oversight has obtained new records from the Wisconsin Assembly detailing the November and December 2021 salary expenses of the Office of Special Counsel, which, led by attorney Michael Gableman, is running the Assembly’s partisan investigation of the 2020 election. The documents reveal an increase in the number of employees as well as a $35,260.31 increase in total monthly salary expenditures from September to December.
The records show that in addition to Gableman, the investigation employed 10 individuals in December, up from the seven listed in November’s expense records. Including Gableman’s pay, which is $11,000 a month, the investigation paid $63,510.31 in salaries in December. Those expenses as well as records from previous months reveal a steady increase in total payments since the creation of the Office of Special Counsel in late August. In September, according to documents previously uncovered by American Oversight, the OSC had four paid staff in addition to Gableman, with a total salary budget of $28,250.
Gableman’s contract was originally set to expire at the end of 2021, but Assembly Speaker Robin Vos announced in December that the investigation would continue into the new year and could cost more than its approved $676,000 budget. While Vos said in January that he hoped the investigation would finish by the end of the month so that the Legislature would have time to act on Gableman’s recommendations, a spokesman for Gableman — who this week issued new subpoenas to voting-machine companies — told WisPolitics.com that there was “no way” the probe would be done by the end of February.
American Oversight has been investigating Wisconsin’s election inquiry and has used public records requests to seek a range of documents from the Assembly and Gableman, including the identities of the staff working on the inquiry and the costs paid by taxpayers. To date, American Oversight has obtained partial expense records from June through December, including documents that show taxpayers footed the bill for Gableman and staff’s August visit to the Arizona Senate’s “audit” of Maricopa County election results, and that the investigation was subleasing office space to a conservative law firm and a legal group involved in efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
During a legislative hearing in early December, Gableman finally revealed the names of nine people he had hired. Of those nine, the names of private investigator Gary Wait and former police officer Neil Saxton do not appear on the December 2021 salary expense list obtained by American Oversight.
The December records instead list the names of John Karlovich, John Irving, and Gableman attorney Kevin Scott. Karlovich, who was listed as “Investigator 5” in the records, was paid $4,400 in December. (Two previously hired investigators also appeared as “Investigator 5” in the documents: former Milwaukee police officers Thomas Obregon and Edward Chaim, who were paid $6,560 and $5,040 in December.) Irving was listed as “Data Analysis Contractor” and was paid $5,986.44. Scott was paid $7,500.
Two other employees, Ron Heuer and Carol Matheis, were only paid part of their original salaries in December, according to the documents. Heuer is president of the Wisconsin Voting Alliance, which filed a November 2020 lawsuit against the Wisconsin Elections Commission in an attempt to block the certification of Joe Biden’s win in the state. According to records previously obtained by American Oversight as well as Gableman’s earlier testimony, Heuer was paid $3,250 per month; the latest records show that Heuer was paid $1,887.10 in December. Matheis, an active member of the Federalist Society, was paid $5,800 in November and $2,096.77 in December.
The newly released records also show that Gableman’s investigation received $15,326.98 in reimbursements from Sept. 30 to Dec. 21, 2021.
Follow American Oversight’s updates on our investigation of the Wisconsin election investigation here.
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