Court Rules Vos Violated Public Records Law, Orders Response to American Oversight’s Requests Within 20 Days

In American Oversight’s year-long effort to obtain records related to the Wisconsin Assembly’s partisan election investigation, today Dane County Circuit Court Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn issued a decision holding that Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos “not only untimely delayed responses to record requests, but that his responses have also failed to include countless records, either willfully or because of neglectful office-wide practices which might have caused the loss of records.”

Bailey-Rihn ordered Vos to fully respond to each of American Oversight’s records requests “within twenty days.”

“It’s ironic that Speaker Vos claimed an investigation was necessary to instill confidence in the election outcome, but then has done everything in his power to prevent Wisconsinites from learning the whole truth,” said Melanie Sloan, American Oversight’s senior adviser. “Vos is not above the law and American Oversight is gratified to see him held accountable for violating Wisconsin’s public records law.”

Today’s ruling came in American Oversight’s second lawsuit seeking records from the election review. The watchdog group sued Vos in October 2021 over his failure to respond to public records requests for documents — including communications and contracts with contractors conducting the review.

The court’s order reads in part:

“I conclude that Vos violated the public records statutes in three ways: First, Vos provides no reason and no evidence to explain why a response delayed for six months was ‘as soon as practicable.’ Second, Vos failed to respond to the request for records ‘from November 3, 2020’ by instead producing records from an unasked-for time period. Third, based on the undisputed evidence of Vos’ ineffectual records practices, I can draw no reasonable inference except that Vos did not search for records in the first instance.”

Through this lawsuit as well as two others, American Oversight has obtained hundreds of pages of records from Vos, the Wisconsin Assembly, and the Office of Special Counsel. Those records have revealed, among other things, that the election investigation headed by attorney Michael Gableman has failed to uncover evidence to support the false claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election. Expense records also show that the investigators have spent thousands of taxpayer dollars on questionable travel, including to Arizona’s sham “audit” of Maricopa County and to election-denier Mike Lindell’s August 2021 “cyber symposium” in South Dakota.

View today’s decision and order here.

More information about American Oversight’s ongoing investigation into Wisconsin’s partisan election review is available here.