Wisconsin Probe Found ‘Absolutely No’ Election Fraud: Judge

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin choose stated Thursday {that a} Republican-ordered, taxpayer-funded investigation into the 2020 election discovered “absolutely no evidence of election fraud,” however did reveal contempt for the state’s open data legislation by Meeting Speaker Robin Vos and a former state Supreme Court justice he employed.

Dane County Circuit Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn awarded about $98,000 in attorneys’ charges to the liberal watchdog group American Oversight, bringing an finish in circuit courtroom to one in every of 4 lawsuits the group filed. Vos’s lawyer, Ron Stadler, stated he was recommending that Vos attraction the ruling.

The charges will likely be paid by taxpayers, which is why the choose stated she was not additionally awarding further punitive damages towards Vos. Costs to taxpayers for the investigation, together with ongoing authorized charges, have exceeded $1 million.

“I think the people of the state of Wisconsin have been punished enough for this case,” Bailey-Rihn stated. “I don’t think it does anyone any good to have punitive damages placed on the innocent people of this state.”

All of American Oversight’s lawsuits stem from data requests it made to Vos and Michael Gableman, a former Wisconsin Supreme Court docket justice employed by Vos in June 2021 to analyze the 2020 presidential election gained by President Joe Biden. Vos ordered the investigation beneath strain from election loser Donald Trump, who continues to falsely declare there was widespread fraud in Wisconsin and that Biden’s win ought to be decertified, which is impossible and which Vos has repeatedly refused to assist.

Even Gableman’s lawyer stated decertification was “pointless.”

Biden’s victory by almost 21,000 votes has withstood recounts, a number of state and federal lawsuits, an audit by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau and a evaluate by a conservative activist legislation agency, the Wisconsin Institute for Legislation & Liberty. An Associated Press review of Wisconsin and different battleground states additionally discovered far too little fraud to have tipped the election for Trump.

Vos and Gableman have suffered a collection of defeats on the circuit courtroom degree within the American Oversight lawsuits. Alongside the way in which, each have been found to be in contempt for refusing to adjust to courtroom orders to show over data. Bailey-Rihn, presiding over her final listening to earlier than retiring, expressed frustration Thursday.

“This has been a long and torturous process to get here,” she stated. “The reality is, whatever records there were, they were either destroyed or they weren’t kept. The problem for this court is no one knows when those records were destroyed.”

State legislation requires lawmakers like Vos to retain data after an open data request for them has been filed. They’ll, and do, delete data if there is no such thing as a pending open data request.

Gableman testified in one other case that he routinely deleted records that he thought weren’t part of the investigation. That resulted in American Oversight filing a fourth lawsuit alleging these deletions have been towards the legislation. That case, together with two others, remains to be pending.

A choose subsequent month was to contemplate whether or not Gableman had fulfilled necessities to vacate an earlier contempt order for not turning over data. And in another case, Vos confronted an Aug. 4 deadline to show over further data requested by American Oversight.

“This whole case has been about trying to shine a light on government,” Bailey-Rihn stated. What it revealed, she stated, was that within the early days of Gableman’s probe, he was being paid $11,000 a month by taxpayers “to sit in the New Berlin library to learn about election law because he knows nothing about election law.”

“We’re all citizens of this state and this country, and we want our elections to be fair and not tainted by any sort of election fraud,” the choose stated. “We have absolutely found out from this case there was absolutely no evidence of election fraud.”

She stated Vos and others have proven they imagine they haven’t any obligation to adjust to the state open data legislation, they don’t perceive it, they don’t observe the lawyer basic’s steerage and so they depart it to individuals who aren’t skilled on the legislation to cope with it.

“That’s one thing the citizens of this state have learned to their detriment,” Bailey-Rihn stated.


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