Wisconsin Court Confirms OSC ‘Accomplished Nothing’ and Removes OSC Lawyer James Bopp from Case

On Wednesday, Judge Frank Remington of the Dane County Circuit Court issued a series of opinions bringing an end to contempt proceedings and removing the Wisconsin Assembly’s Office of Special Counsel’s out-of-state lawyers from the case for repeated misconduct. 

In a thorough and scathing opinion, Remington supplemented his previous denial of the Office of Special Counsel’s motion seeking his recusal and removed OSC’s attorneys, including James Bopp, from the case for making false statements and substituting their own legal arguments for facts, ignoring Wisconsin law, and failing to abide by the rules of professional conduct.  

The orders came as part of American Oversight’s public records lawsuit against OSC seeking documents from the State Assembly’s partisan review of Wisconsin’s 2020 presidential election. The court also found that the OSC had “accomplished nothing” during several months of investigation in 2021, writing that OSC

kept none of the weekly progress reports the Wisconsin State Assembly required it to keep. It recorded no interviews with witnesses. It gathered no measurable data. It organized no existing data into any analytical format. It generated no reports based on any special expertise.

The court’s opinion also stated that all OSC had done was to “commence lawsuits against other parts of our state and local government,” noting, however, that “at time of this writing, OSC has received no relief.” American Oversight previously uncovered expense and personnel records showing that the number of people working for OSC more than doubled during this time period and spending on salaries increased from $28,250 in September to more than $63,000 in December. Gableman himself was paid $11,000 per month for his work.

The court’s written order included a 90-page decision detailing the history of American Oversight’s lawsuit and explaining why OSC’s account of that history in its motion seeking Remington’s recusal was “fiction.”

In a separate ruling, the court lifted ongoing sanctions against OSC for its failure to produce records in response to American Oversight’s lawsuit, but concluded that ambiguities around the Assembly’s inquiries remain. In a hearing on the matter held on Tuesday, Remington noted that OSC’s lack of professionalism may have meant that records that should have been produced had been lost and that it was likely nothing further could be gained by maintaining the contempt order, saying that Michael Gableman, who until last week headed OSC, had “demonstrated that he’s not capable of conducting a professional and thorough investigation.” 

“Today, the court confirmed that Speaker Vos’s partisan inquiry into the 2020 election ‘accomplished nothing’ except to waste taxpayer resources promoting dangerously false claims of voter fraud,” said American Oversight Executive Director Heather Sawyer. “The individuals behind this inquiry concealed a mountain of evidence about what they were doing and who was involved. Their disregard for Wisconsin’s public records law means that the people of Wisconsin will never know the full extent of their misconduct.

“By removing OSC’s lawyers for making ‘repeated false statements of fact and law’ and refusing to abide by Wisconsin rules of professional conduct, the court affirms that truth and the rule of law matter.”

Judge Remington’s orders are available HERE. Excerpts are highlighted below.