Publish Date:November 30, 2021
Five Key Questions About Wisconsin’s Election Investigation
In Wisconsin, new reports based on independent reporting and records obtained by American Oversight have revealed that Michael Gableman, the former justice and special counsel leading an “investigation” into the 2020 election, is sharing an office with far-right, conservative groups, including the Thomas More Society and its connected Amistad Project.
Based on this and other recently revealed information about Gableman, there are important questions about this taxpayer-funded investigation that the people of Wisconsin deserve answered.
Key facts drawn from public records obtained and released by American Oversight as well as recent reporting by WisPolitics.com:
- Gableman’s firm, Consultare LLC, has signed a lease for office space in Brookfield, Wis. The lease has a base rent of $4,903 a month for 3,566 square feet of space over two floors and runs from Oct. 1, 2021, through Sept. 30, 2022.
- Gableman signed an office-sharing agreement with the conservative Thomas More Society and a Minneapolis law firm that was involved in challenging Wisconsin’s 2020 election.
- The Thomas More Society is the parent organization of the Amistad Project, which bills itself as an election integrity project. The Minnesota firm Mohrman, Kaardal & Erickson represented the project in lawsuits over the 2020 election.
- Gableman has signed two sublease agreements. The one with the Thomas More Society is $1,218 a month for 886 square feet of space. The second agreement, with the firm of Mohrman, Kaardal & Erickson, is $1,749 a month for 1,272 square feet.
- The subleases leave $1,936 a monthly net cost for taxpayers to cover through Gableman’s contract with the Wisconsin Assembly.
- A Gableman spokesperson said the arrangement was made to help keep down costs for the special counsel’s office. If Gableman’s review of the 2020 election ends before the contract is up, the Thomas More Society will take over the full lease, the spokesperson said.
- Speaker of the Assembly Robin Vos originally had promised that Gableman would wrap up his probe by the end of October. Gableman has since said that was unrealistic, and the investigation is now expected to go into 2022.
As Gableman testifies before the Wisconsin Assembly on Dec. 1, there are a number of questions that remain unanswered regarding the investigation and his management of it. Here are five key areas that need answers:
- In the recently released documents, there are a number of individuals receiving payments as part of Gableman’s investigation. Will Gableman confirm those individuals whose names have been reported (i.e., Carol Matheis or Andrew Kloster) are investigators on his official staff? In what states do those individuals reside and are they members of the Wisconsin bar? Why hasn’t Gableman released the names of all his taxpayer-funded staff?
- As noted, the names of several of Gableman’s lawyers have been reported, and their roles have been confirmed by reimbursement records. Why has he continued to hire and engage with a number of out-of-state lawyers, many of whom have previously worked for former President Trump and/or pushed conspiracy theories about the 2020 election?
- What business did Gableman have that necessitated a visit to the Pleasant Prairie headquarters of packaging firm Uline (run by major Trump donors Liz and Dick Uihlein) in October 2021?
- The Thomas More Society worked extensively during the 2020 election to file lawsuits seeking to overturn the will of the voters. (None of them succeeded.) Gableman, now a government contractor, is sharing office space with the organization. Are these arrangements — between a government official and a private organization that has been involved in work related to the official’s work — common? If yes, could he provide other examples of where these types of office-sharing arrangements have been made? Does Gableman understand why this arrangement is concerning?
- The budget provided to Gableman included more than $300,000 to hire a data analytics firm. What is he doing to retain that firm? What is that firm and what are its qualifications? Is there a scope to Gableman’s inquiry or can he expand it at will?
See the records obtained by American Oversight and get the latest updates on our investigation here.