Investigators conducting Wisconsin’s partisan review of the 2020 election spent thousands of taxpayer dollars on travel and lodging, including sending as many as five people to Arizona to visit that state’s controversial “audit,” according to new expense records obtained by American Oversight.
The financial documents are included in more than 350 pages of records released to American Oversight that provide additional information about expenses incurred by attorney Michael Gableman and his staff, who are currently conducting an investigation of the 2020 election at the behest of the Wisconsin Assembly and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. The documents were released by the Assembly in response to several public records requests filed by American Oversight in October seeking records of Gableman’s investigation.
Gableman’s office has sought to keep the identities of several taxpayer-funded staff members secret, with only the hiring of Andrew Kloster and Carol Matheis having been publicly reported, in addition to Gableman aide Zakory Niemierowicz.
The precise nature of Kloster and Matheis’ roles with the investigation has not been publicly known, but the records obtained by American Oversight indicate that Matheis has been working with Gableman as “Investigator 1” since at least Sept. 1; Kloster has been “Investigator 2” since at least July 26. A third investigator is also referred to, though their identity does not appear in the documents. And on Oct. 21, Niemierowicz, who is identified as the “administrative assistant” in the expense records, emailed the office of the Assembly’s chief clerk to inform them about an additional $3,250 in salary to be applied to someone Niemierowicz only referred to as “Investigator 4.”
Both Kloster and Matheis are attorneys who worked in the Trump administration, and Matheis is active with the conservative group the Federalist Society, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Prior to joining the team, Kloster had, like Gableman, stated without evidence that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen, and said that conservatives needed “irate hooligans and our own captured DA offices to let our boys off the hook.”
Among the expenses detailed in the records are reimbursements for Gableman’s and staff members’ travel, including an August visit to the Arizona Senate’s sham “audit” of Maricopa County ballots. On that trip, the Assembly paid for hotel rooms for five people (of whom Gableman and Kloster are the only two whose identities are known) for as many as five nights in some cases. Other taxpayer-funded trips include flights to Wisconsin for Kloster and Matheis from their home states, as well as a hotel stay for a visit to the conspiracy-laden “cyber symposium” hosted by election-denier Mike Lindell in Sioux Falls, S.D., in August.
The records also reveal that the cost of the office space used by Gableman for the investigation’s headquarters is at least partly funded by subleases to a pair of conservative lawyers with no apparent ties to the investigation itself. The lease agreement contains subleases that indicate that 60 percent of the total rent for the office space is paid by attorneys Andrew Bath and William Mohrman. Bath is a member of the conservative Thomas More Society. Mohrman is currently representing disgraced former police officer Derek Chauvin in appealing his conviction for the murder of George Floyd. In December 2020, Mohrman’s law partner, Erick Kaardal, also a member of the Thomas More Society, filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn election results in five states.
American Oversight is actively investigating the origins, costs, and conduct of Wisconsin’s partisan election inquiry. In October, American Oversight sued the Assembly and Vos for failing to adequately respond to earlier requests for the release of records of Gableman and the other contractors as required by Wisconsin law.
The court ordered all records created before Aug. 30, the date when Gableman’s “Office of Special Counsel” was officially created, to be turned over by Friday, Nov. 19. While Vos and the Assembly produced some documents by the deadline, they didn’t turn over any contractor records. This week, American Oversight sent a letter demanding that the records be produced by Monday, Nov. 29, and the group is prepared to return to court if necessary to ensure that the public has access to the facts. Follow the full investigation and see the records already uncovered here.
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