On Saturday, American Oversight obtained records from the office of Michael Gableman, the special counsel conducting the partisan investigation of Wisconsin’s 2020 election. The documents contain several emails to Gableman from Mike Lindell, the My Pillow CEO and prominent election conspiracy theorist whose August voter-fraud “cyber symposium” in South Dakota was attended by Gableman.
In addition to the messages from Lindell sent in late August, the records also contain more indications that Gableman’s office has been working closely with Erick Kaardal, a lawyer who had filed a lawsuit seeking over to overturn election results and whose law firm is subleasing office space from Gableman’s operation, as revealed in records recently obtained by American Oversight. Numerous emails with Harry Wait, president of conservative group Honest Open Transparent Government, also appear in the documents, as do communications with the office of state Rep. Tim Ramthun. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Harry Wait is the brother of Gary Wait, a former private investigator who was hired by Gableman to work on the election review.
On Aug. 24, Lindell sent Gableman an email titled “Election Fraud” and another titled “Wisconsin Affidavits” along with links to files. A few days later, Lindell sent Gableman an email with an attached Excel file that he referred to as “the full list.”
The documents also touch upon some of the disagreements among proponents of the Big Lie about how to approach a review of the election, with state Rep. Janel Brandtjen and others calling for a “full forensic audit” in the style of the Arizona Senate’s discredited ballot review and publicly criticizing aspects of Gableman’s work.
The Arizona “audit,” conducted by the inexperienced and biased firm Cyber Ninjas, wound up reaching the already-confirmed conclusion that Biden had won Maricopa County, and cost a whopping $9 million, as revealed in records uncovered by American Oversight.
On July 23, Harry Wait emailed Gableman, relaying a message from Ramthun’s office: “We’ve got the cyber ninja team on hold, and we can move to get things done if we can get Tim [Ramthun] and Mike [Gableman] talking.” The message also requested that Gableman publicly say he “doesn’t have the resources to do a forensic audit,” presumably so Ramthun and Brandtjen could attempt their own.
In early August, Gableman and staff traveled to Phoenix to visit the Arizona review. Records recently obtained by American Oversight revealed that taxpayers shelled out more than $2,700 for this travel, despite Vos having said that Gableman would cover those expenses out of his $11,000-a-month salary.
That same month, Gableman also traveled to Sioux Falls, S.D., for Lindell’s “symposium,” an event that attracted numerous election conspiracy theorists and promised proof of widespread voter fraud — proof that, of course, never materialized. (The expense records uncovered by American Oversight revealed that Gableman’s hotel stay was also reimbursed by taxpayers.)
“During my time in Sioux Falls last week, I was disappointed and surprised by the ‘all or nothing’ approach being sold by Mike Lindell,” Gableman wrote on Aug. 17 in an email to Wait, Vos, and Brandtjen. “[H]e and his colleagues constantly harped on the need for us all to go back to our home states and demand a ‘full, Arizona-style forensic audit.’
“Why the rush to copy a method whose value- as opposed to cost- is currently unknown?” Gableman continued. “I have been researching other methods and interviewing experts in the field who say they can provide us with the info everyone was hoping for from AZ.”
Last week, Gableman finally revealed the identities of all except one of the people working under him in the taxpayer-funded investigation. They include Gary Wait, who has reportedly been working with Peter Bernegger, a man previously convicted of mail and bank fraud, to examine 2020 ballots. The newly released records reveal that on July 30, Harry Wait emailed Gableman, Bernegger, and an unidentified recipient.
Also on the payroll is Ron Heuer, the president of an organization that filed lawsuits seeking to overturn the election with the assistance of Kaardal’s law firm and Kaardal himself on behalf of the Thomas More Society, which is also subleasing office space from Gableman. The documents contain several emails from Heuer to the special counsel’s office, as well as emails from Thomas Ciesielka, the head of a Chicago public relations firm, indicating that Kaardal has been working closely with Gableman. “I am somewhat limited with what I can do until I get the report that will be presented on November 8,” Ciesielka wrote on Nov. 3. “However, based on what you and Erick shared, I trust that I can get up to speed once I have it.” (It is unclear whether he is referring to Gableman’s interim report.)
In late August, Kaardal filed a lawsuit against the city of Racine, Wis., seeking records regarding grants from the Center for Tech and Civic Life that were provided to Wisconsin cities for election administration. Those grants have been the subject of conspiracy-driven scrutiny and are an area of focus in Gableman’s investigation. Brandtjen, Harry Wait’s organization, and Heuer’s organization were also named as plaintiffs.
On Friday, American Oversight filed a motion in the Dane County Circuit Court asking that the State Assembly and Speaker Robin Vos be held in contempt for failing to comply with a Nov. 5 court order requiring the release of records held by contractors, including Gableman, that were created prior to Aug. 30.
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