Assembly Republicans in Wisconsin are looking to put election officials behind bars as part of their review of the 2020 election.
On Friday they looked to jail the state Elections Commission chairwoman, Ann Jacobs, Racine Mayor Cory Mason and other officials, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.
The court filing marked the latest shift in approach for Michael Gableman, a former state Supreme Court justice who is leading the review for the Republicans. Three days ago, he abandoned far-reaching subpoenas he issued in January to the immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera Action.
A month ago an attorney working with Gableman told a judge he was hoping to avoid trying to jail the mayors of Madison and Green Bay.
But on Friday Gableman intensified his efforts, telling Waukesha County Circuit Judge Ralph Ramirez he should incarcerate those mayors and others if they don’t sit for interviews with him behind closed doors.
Recounts and court rulings have verified that President Joe Biden won the state by 21,000 votes, but the Republicans in the assembly still have questions about the election.
Those targeted by the most recent filing include Jacobs, Mason, Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich, Madison and Green Bay city clerks, two Milwaukee workers and information technology employees who work for the state Department of Administration and the Elections Commission.
“After saying he wanted to arrest me, then saying he didn’t, Gableman once again is asking the courts to arrest me and eight other public officials,” the Madison mayor said. “It’s an awfully bold move for someone we don’t even know is authorized to conduct an investigation.”
In January, Gableman, who is leading the investigation into the state’s 2020 elections, accused two mayors of a “cover-up” and stonewalling the investigation.
While testifying before the Wisconsin Committee on Campaign and Elections, Gableman threatened to subpoena former Facebook employee Michael Spitzer Rubenstein to testify.
Gableman also warned that he may jail two Wisconsin Democratic Mayors if they continue to avoid his interview.
An attorney for Assembly Republicans is seeking to jail the mayors of Madison and Green Bay if they don’t sit for depositions soon — even though the two say he never gave them a final date for when they were supposed to meet with him.
Gableman this week sought court orders requiring Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich to answer his questions or be jailed if they decline to do so. In his filings, he contended the pair had defied his request that they meet with him in November. The two have disputed they were required to meet with him then.
Jeffrey Mandell, a lawyer for Green Bay, sent a letter to Waukesha County Circuit Judge Ralph Ramirez saying Gableman’s legal work was so shoddy that he would seek legal sanctions against Gableman.
Mandell argued Gableman had filed the wrong kind of lawsuit in the wrong court. The type of case Gableman brought should only be used when private individuals have disputes over money, Mandell contended.
“[Green Bay Mayor] Eric Genrich and [Madison Mayor] Satya Rhodes-Conway have chosen to ignore the subpoenas issued by the Wisconsin Assembly because they have no intention of answering uncomfortable questions about what they did with the millions of dollars in Zuckerberg money that they took,” Gableman said.
“Reasonable minds might wonder whether the millions of dollars each of these mayors received from the Zuckerbergs may have induced them to do something other than treating all candidates fairly and impartially. And whether those mayors used the Zuckerberg money to get out the vote for Joe Biden,” Gableman said.
“They are trying to run and hide from accountability to the citizens they are supposed to serve,” Gableman told lawmakers. “Why go through all of this legal evasion, maneuvering, and expense unless they do not want the public to know what they have done?”