Taxpayers' tab continues to soar in GOP election review, more legal fees awarded

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The amount of money taxpayers will pay for the GOP-ordered election investigation continues to soar after a Dane County judge ruled a former Supreme Court Justice in charge of the review will have to pay over $160,000 in attorney fees.

Dane County Circuit Court Judge Frank Remington ordered Michael Gableman to pay over $163,000 in legal fees after determining Gableman failed to respond to open record requests filed by the liberal watchdog group American Oversight.

It's the latest court hearing to reveal just how much taxpayers will be on the hook to pay for the 2020 election probe launched by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who hired Gableman last year to oversee the review.

Remington's order comes days after a separate Dane County Judge awarded nearly $100,000 to American Oversight in another open records case seeking documents related to the investigation.

In court Monday, Aug. 1, the conservative attorney representing Gableman tried to argue higher attorney fees ultimately means more money out of the taxpayers' wallets.

"You're going to elude the taxpayers with this enormous amount and with a rate they cannot justify," attorney James Bopp said when questioning the legal fees set by American Oversight.

Bopp also revealed during testimony he charges Gableman $450 per hour, a cost taxpayers will also have to pay.

"I do conclude the plaintiff has sustainable justification for the rates charged and the number of hours worked," said Remington. "For those reasons, I grant American Oversight's request for fees and costs of $163,559."

The legal fees are in addition to other expenses, such as Gableman's salary, office supplies and travel reimbursements which have surpassed more than $1.1 million -- all money that will fall on taxpayers.

Vos has argued the costs for Gableman's outside attorneys don't count towards his $676,000 taxpayer budget for the review. The investigation has yet to produce evidence to overturn Joe Biden's victory over Donald Trump in Wisconsin.

Recounts, court rulings and nonpartisan election reviews have upheld Trump's loss of nearly 21,000 votes to Biden.

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