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Subpoenas for GOP-ordered election probe to include mayors

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The retired Wisconsin Supreme Court justice leading a Republican-ordered investigation into the 2020 presidential election said Tuesday that he plans to issue subpoenas to mayors in the state's five largest and most Democratic cities.

Attorney Michael Gableman told the Green Bay Common Council about his plans to issue a subpoena to that city's mayor and four others, a move that comes days after he demanded records from clerks in the same cities and the state’s top elections official.

Gableman also said that he does not know if he can complete his investigation by the end of October, as Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he expected it to be done. Gableman, who was hired by Vos and is being paid $11,000 a month in public funds, did not say how long he thought his work would take.

Gableman told the Green Bay council that mayors in Milwaukee, Madison, Racine and Kenosha would also receive subpoenas, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

President Joe Biden won all five of those cities on his way to defeating Donald Trump in Wisconsin by nearly 21,000 votes, an outcome that survived recounts and court rulings in both state and federal courts.

Gableman, who last year claimed without evidence that the election was stolen, is issuing his subpoenas as part of a $676,000, taxpayer-funded probe of the election.

Gableman on Friday issued subpoenas to elections officials in the same cities where he plans to subpoena the mayors. The subpoenas to the cities' clerks and the state elections commission call for them to turn over “all documents contained in your files and/or in your custody, possession, or control pertaining to the Election.”

That comprises hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of pages of records for the state and its five largest cities.

Gableman has told at least eight officials to provide him records and give him testimony on Oct. 15 at an office in Brookfield. He indicated in a recent YouTube video that he would conduct his work in secret.

Gableman told the Green Bay council that those who grant him interviews would be given immunity from prosecution.

What, precisely, Gableman is allowed to do is unclear because reviews like his are so rare in Wisconsin. The subpoenas he issued are the first to come from the Wisconsin Legislature in about 50 years.

Gableman has not disclosed who is working for him and public records that have been released so far have not shed light on who is on his payroll.

He said he planned to look into advice the bipartisan state Elections Commission gave to clerks and donations the nonprofit Center for Tech and Civic Life gave to Wisconsin communities to help run the 2020 election. He called voting machines “an important area of inquiry” but did not say whether he would try to seize them from election officials, as some Republicans have demanded.

Gableman would not tell the Journal Sentinel in an interview what his plans were with voting machines.

“Voting machines is certainly a topic of interest expressed by a lot of people and I’ve already said that yes, I at some point I will be reviewing the issue of voting on all issues,” he said.

After meeting in closed session, the council voted to get free legal assistance from Law Forward, States United Democracy Center and Stafford Rosenbaum.

Law Forward, of Madison, and States United, of Washington, D.C., are nonprofit legal outfits that have been critical of Gableman’s review. Stafford Rosenbaum is a Madison-based law firm.

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