Group wants Assembly Speaker Robin Vos fined for not turning over records related to election review

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  • Robin Vos
    American politician and businessman
  • Michael Gableman
    American lawyer, judge, politician

MADISON – A liberal group asked a judge Friday to hold Assembly Speaker Robin Vos in contempt of court for failing to release records related to a Republican review of the 2020 election.

Dane County Circuit Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn last month ordered the Rochester Republican to release records about the secretive review that he launched this summer. Bailey-Rihn made the ruling at the request of American Oversight, which has made numerous requests for documents under the state's open records law.

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On Friday, the group asked Bailey-Rihn to hold Vos in contempt of court for not providing all the records the judge told him to release.

"This shell game demands accountability and needs to end," said a written statement from Austin Evers, American Oversight's executive director.

The group wants Vos to pay $2,000 per day until he produces the records. A hearing on whether he should be found in contempt is slated for Dec. 30.

Under the earlier court order, Vos was to release the records by Nov. 19.

Vos spokeswoman Angela Joyce did not immediately say Friday why Vos has not turned over the records and whether he planned to do so.

More: The identity of Michael Gableman's 'Carol M.' is a mystery no longer, but the names of others helping him remain secret

More: Gableman is paying $20,500 a month to a staff of five for the GOP election review but won't tell taxpayers who they are

More: Former Supreme Court Justice Gableman, head of Republican review of Wisconsin election, says he does not understand how elections work

The group and media outlets have obtained some records related to the review, including receipts that show taxpayers spent at least $2,750 on travel expenses that Vos had said would not be covered.

Joe Biden narrowly won Wisconsin last year. His victory was upheld by recounts and court rulings and a recent legislative audit did not turn up any evidence questioning the results.

Republicans who control the Assembly have said further review is warranted and have assigned former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman to that task. They have given him a taxpayer-funded budget of $676,000.

Gableman last year claimed without evidence that the election was stolen. He has met with and hired election conspiracy theories as he has conducted his review and has put his focus on cities that received grants from a nonprofit group to help them run their elections during the coronavirus pandemic.

This week, Gableman contended Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and Green Bay Eric Genrich had not cooperated with him and asked a Waukesha County judge to jail them if they don't meet with him. The mayors have said they have cooperated with Gableman and an attorney for the Green Bay mayor has said he will seek legal sanctions against Gableman.

Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul in October sued to block subpoenas Gableman has issued to the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission. A hearing is scheduled for Dec. 23 to determine whether those subpoenas are valid.

Some Republicans have pushed for the resignation of Meagan Wolfe, the nonpartisan director of the commission.

Wolfe has said she will not go. During an online forum Friday at Marquette University Law School, Wolfe said part of the reason she does not want to go is because state senators could name her replacement if the equally divided commission could not agree on someone for the job within 45 days.

"It worries me that there's opportunities to insert somebody that might have partisan motivations into this position in the future," she said. "And I will not be swayed by one side of the aisle sort of pushing me to do something that they'd prefer. I won't be swayed by that. And so I think it's really important to have someone who's truly nonpartisan in this role."

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Contact Patrick Marley at patrick.marley@jrn.com. Follow him on Twitter at @patrickdmarley.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Group asks judge to fine Wisconsin speaker for not releasing records

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