State and city election officials will no longer testify with Gableman

NOW: State and city election officials will no longer testify with Gableman

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The leader of the Wisconsin Election Commission will not meet with the attorney in charge of the Republican election investigation on Friday, according to the state's attorney general office.

This means no state or city election officials will sit down for interviews with Michael Gableman, the leader of the GOP investigation, after originally issuing subpoenas demanding them to.

A spokeswoman for Attorney General Josh Kaul, who is representing Meagan Wolfe, leader of the Wisconsin Elections Commission, says she will not meet with Michael Gableman at an office in Brookfield.

"We have agreed that no one from WEC will be appearing or testifying tomorrow, and we have also agreed to continue discussions about the possibility of future testimony and under what conditions that may take place," said Gillian Drummond in a statement to CBS 58.

Gableman, a former Supreme Court justice, confirmed in a new video he's backing off his request for testimony and tens of thousands of pages of election documents. 

"In order to facilitate faster responses and address concerns that the terms of the subpoenas were too burdensome, we offered the customary opportunity to procced informally," Gableman said. 

The subpoenas, issued just weeks ago, targeted the state elections commission, clerks and mayors in Milwaukee, Madison, Kenosha, Racine and Green Bay. Gableman has also canceled interviews with clerks and mayors.

Gableman added those subpoenaed shouldn't have lawyers, something Governor Tony Evers recommended as the investigation got underway. 

"There should not be lawyers between the people of Wisconsin and their elected and appointed government officials," he said. 

Attorney General Josh Kaul, who's representing the Wisconsin Elections Commission, said they reached an agreement with Gableman's team to now only provide documents that have already been requested through open record requests. 

"His team has really significantly stepped back from their original request that was really sweeping in scope and would have taken an enormous amount of time and money," Kaul said. 

City clerks and mayors also reached a similar agreement last week. Madison's city attorney, Michael Haas, said they are preparing to send Gableman a USB drive with election documents they already have on hand.

Earlier in the week, Kaul said subpoenas were unlawful since Gableman, at first, asked officials to testify in private on Oct. 15 and Oct. 22 in Brookfield rather than in front of the Assembly's election committee.

On Monday, he sent a letter to Gableman requesting clarity on what he's seeking in the subpoenas and asked a top Republican to "shut this fake investigation down."

Gableman Focuses Review on Election Grants

Gableman's focus so far has centered around $10 million in election grants awarded to 200 communities to help run the election during the pandemic. The group Center for Tech and Civic Life, which is funded by Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg, distributed the grants, with a majority of the funds going to Wisconsin's five largest cities that were served subpoenas.

The initial cost of the investigation into the already-certified election is $686,000 in taxpayer dollars. Of that, Gableman is being paid $11,000 a month.

Gableman, who claimed the election was stolen before he was hired, also said it's unlikely he'll meet a Republican-projected deadline to complete his report by the end of the month.

He's also claimed, without proof, he has "compelling evidence that Wisconsin's elections laws were not properly followed by election officials at both the state and local levels."

President Joe Biden narrowly won Wisconsin during the 2020 presidential election by nearly 21,000 votes, and his victory has been upheld by recounts and numerous lawsuits.

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