The Special Counsel for an investigation into Wisconsin election integrity has subpoenaed the Mayors of the five cities he says received the “vast lion’s share” of grant money from Centers for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL).
Reports vary as to who has received subpoenas, but we know it is not just the mayors of the ‘Wisconsin Five.’ Former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, the Special Counsel running the investigation, told the Green Bay Common Council meeting that their “mayor and a person most knowledgeable in his office” had, or would soon, receive them. He added there are similar summons that “mirror” those for the other four cities.
‘Clerks’ have been vaguely mentioned in multiple unsourced reports as additional subpoena recipients. The Hill reports that Green Bay city clerk Celestine Jefferies and Milwaukee Election Commission executive director Claire Woodall-Vogg “confirmed” they have received theirs. State Attorney General Josh Kaul has challenged subpoenas sent to the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) and Administrator Meagan Wolfe. That public letter (see letter below) provides the most insight available into what is requested by the Special Counsel’s summons.
Gableman is an appointee of Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who issued a statement following the subpoenas:
“Justice Gableman is dedicated to finding the truth and has determined subpoenas are necessary to move forward in his investigation. Assembly Republicans will continue to work with Justice Gableman to ensure confidence is fully restored in our elections.”
Multiple outlets quote language said to come directly from Gableman’s written orders without providing the source document. Two sets of wording can be found. One calls for recipients to preserve “any and all records and evidence including but not limited to information retained on any and all voting machines,” since Nov. 3, and to forward “any information relating to any and all intentional or unintentional destruction of records.” Alternate specific wording from multiple unsourced reports asks for “all documents contained in your files and/or in your custody, possession, or control pertaining to the Election.”
Federal law requires the retention of records from elections involving federal candidates. 52 U.S. Code § 20701 states:
“Every officer of election shall retain and preserve, for a period of twenty-two months. All records and papers which come into his possession relating to any act requisite to voting.”
Wisconsin state statutes further govern the preservation of election materials. Wis. Stat. § 7.23 states:
“Detachable recording units and compartments for use with tabulating equipment for an electronic voting system may be cleared or erased 14 days after any primary and 21 days after any other election. Before clearing or erasing the units or compartments, a municipal clerk shall transfer the data contained in the units or compartments to a disk or other recording medium, which may be erased or destroyed 22 months after the election to which the data relates.”
Multiple outlets are reporting that the location that witnesses have been compelled to appear for testimony is a commercial rental unit listed as a couple’s therapist and a liposuction clinic. That detail has been used editorially in critical pieces, as has the fact that the investigation is being run with $680,000 taxpayer money. However, if the subpoena response from Wolfe’s lawyer is accurate as to the address, it turns out to be a corporate setting.
The question of whether the individuals are compelled to testify to Gableman on private grounds is in question, as can be seen in the letter challenging the subpoenas from Wisconsin AG Kaul. The question of what documents are and can be requested is also being challenged.
While Wolfe and others who are reported to have received subpoenas are seeking legal opinion as to whether they are required to comply at all, a suit from American Oversight (AO) requesting the records of Gableman’s investigation gained a favorable ruling within hours on Friday, Oct. 8. AO is a group that boasts of its past efforts to investigate “President Trump’s corrupt scheme to pressure the government of Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election” and “failed response to the Covid-19 pandemic.” AO also referred to Maricopa’s forensic audit as “Arizona’s Sham Election Audit” run by “partisan and conspiracy-driven biases of the officials and contractors.”
Gableman’s investigation is separate from the election processes audit by Wisconsin’s Legislative Audit Bureau, efforts by State Representative Janel Brandtjen, and other election integrity activity ongoing. As Chair of the Assembly Committee of Campaigns and Elections, Brandtjen had herself issued subpoenas to Brown and Milwaukee counties in Wisconsin, an effort she said was a first step toward a “full, cyber-forensic audit.” While it is widely reported that her summonses had no force of law without the signature from Speaker Vos that is required by Wis. Stat. §13.31, it is rarely mentioned that Brandtjen’s initial press release clearly states that she does not rest her authority on that statute but on what is granted by Wis. Stat. §885.01(4) and 2021 Assembly Resolution 15, b.
A source of some of that legacy reporting is a memo from 3rd party Wisconsin Legislative Council provided upon request by Democrat Representative Mark Spreitzer. Myopically resting on §13.31 and opining that Speaker Vos’ signature is prerequisite, the memo now effectively backs any subpoenas that Vos signs—including Gableman’s. As a press statement from Speaker Vos states:
“The subpoenas have been issued correctly—a fact backed up by the nonpartisan Legislative Council in a memo requested by Assembly Democrats.”
It is still not clear that the issues Gableman will investigate will proceed to what Brandtjen and other proponents of a full forensic audit have in mind. State Representative Timothy Ramthun, who had requested forensic additions to the LAB audit, voices skepticism while noting that support for Brandtjen from so-called election integrity supporters in leadership has been lacking:
“It’s most alarming that, to date, Chair Brandtjen has not been approached in any manner by legislative leadership regarding any assistance. Why? They have also not taken action regarding her subpoenas or my voting machine protection request. Why? When I voted for Assembly Resolution 15 back in March, I expected my vote would give Chair Brandtjen the support from leadership she needs. That support has yet to materialize. Why? I find it very difficult to support any efforts other than the transparent full forensic physical cyber audit, with auditors and investigators reporting to Chair Brandtjen and her committee. She has the momentum. With resources, she will get results. This is what the people of Wisconsin demand. As only a servant in search of truth and transparency, I believe all other efforts are wholly insufficient and obstructionist in nature.”
In addition to claim of authority to conduct a full forensic audit, Brandtjen and her committee are pursuing information from the WEC. The issues Brandtjen and the Assembly Committee are investigating likely include those mentioned in her recent releases, such as this reaction to the recent Maricopa County audit results:
“The Maricopa County audit results reinforces the need for a top-to-bottom, cyber-forensic audit. Right now, thousands of clerks, deputy clerks and other workers have access to our voting lists—active and inactive. No one is ever removed from Wisconsin’s election system; death does not even remove someone, as they are marked ‘inactive.’ There has been a lot of concern about the possibility of ghost votes. Do we have enough oversight on Election Day with the use of the ERIC system, DMV checks and Social Security checks to fully understand how these processes work? Data is power; who manages it, who secures it, and who has the ability to make changes would also have the capability to manipulate it.”
Or this Sept. 15 statement:
“Forensics on tabulators, ballot marking devices and their connection to the internet… IP addresses, audit trail logs, scatter logs, and router logs are now the data we are asking for to resolve the question of hacking. Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) agreed that these records need further examination and they have stopped the ability of ES&S machines to be erased while uploading updates. WEC took these matters very seriously in 2016 with the concerns of Russian collusion, and they should continue those same concerns today.”
Other topics that the Committee might ask WEC to address could be found in Brandtjen’s older statements, like this one from July:
“On Election Day, new voters have been able to vote without valid driver’s licenses or valid social security numbers. As a state that has voter ID in place, this loophole has been capitalized by thousands of voters since 2010. There is no real-time system for clerks to verify whether new voters are real or eligible citizens to vote. I’m not sure how Wisconsin’s voters can be confident with multiple layers of election security when we have a process that hands out ballots before confirming whether a voter is real, eligible, and resides in Wisconsin.”
Despite the many public statements from Brandtjen and the abundance of publicly available information already in writing about election integrity issues in Wisconsin, including internal government emails and court filings, Brandtjen appeared on OAN last month to say:
“We were really surprised. We thought that since they are public servants, that we would be able to talk about all the issues that are going on in the state of Wisconsin. These are public employees, and to me, they’re yes/no answers. I’m incredibly disappointed that we can’t just pick up the phone and have conversations. Now we have to go through lawyers.”
Results certified by Governor Tony Evers have Joe Biden’s vote count exceeding Donald Trump’s by 21,000, amounting to a margin of about one-half of one percent. Look Ahead America’s report on illegal ballots in Wisconsin claims the number of them easily exceeds that margin of victory.