Records from Wisconsin Assembly Speaker’s Office Reveal Early Spring Negotiations over Gableman’s Pay and Second Contract Extension

In February, discussions between the office of Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) about an extension to the contract for the attorney leading the partisan inquiry into the state’s 2020 election — whose contract was just this week reported to be extended yet again — included a previously unreported draft motion that would have extended the election investigation through the end of August.

American Oversight recently obtained records from the office of Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos revealing the draft motion, which included language apparently attempting to bar the inquiry’s employees from “disclosing information related to the special counsel’s elections investigation.”

On Tuesday, Vos’ office announced that the investigation headed by attorney Michael Gableman — which was set to expire Saturday — would remain open. Originally set to end in October, the inquiry was extended through the end of 2021 and then in March extended again. The recently released records regarding this second extension were released to American Oversight, which in March obtained a copy of Gableman’s second amended contract.

The records include a text message sent by Vos’ general counsel, Steve Fawcett, on Feb. 2, containing an image of a printed document with proposed language for the Assembly’s elections committee that would extend the probe through Aug. 31, 2022, and would designate OSC — Gableman’s office — as an Assembly investigator responsible for “investigating certain Wisconsin elections; assisting the Committee on Campaigns and Elections; and hiring staff.” 

Also included in the records are communications from February and March that reflect negotiations about Gableman’s salary, as well as two drafted second amendments to Gableman’s contract. As American Oversight previously reported, they included a proposed decrease in his monthly salary from $11,000 to $5,500 beginning in April — a reduction that was ultimately not included in the final second amended version. 

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which compiled records it obtained and other payment information obtained by American Oversight, as of early March, Gableman’s investigation already cost Wisconsin taxpayers at least $519,000 of the $676,000 budget that was allocated when Vos initiated the investigation last summer. In January, American Oversight had uncovered records that show staff costs for OSC increased dramatically during the last three months of 2021. 

American Oversight will continue to investigate the partisan efforts to undermine faith in democracy and fair elections in Wisconsin. Read our most recent updates here.