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Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos sits for deposition, as watchdog group seeks records

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos spoke at a recreational trails meeting in Union Grove in September, 2021.
Chuck Quirmbach
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos spoke at a recreational trails meeting in Union Grove in Sept. 2021.

A government watchdog group spent hours Wednesday deposing the state's top Republican politician, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, and Vos's attorney Steve Fawcett.

A deposition is sworn out-of-court testimony from a witness. It's used to gather information as part of the discovery process and may be used at trial in limited circumstances.

Watchdog group American Oversight is investigating the state Assembly's probe of the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin. The taxpayer-funded work is led by investigator and former state Supreme Court justice Michael Gableman.

American Oversight said it's a non-partisan, non-profit ethics watchdog seeking to release some documents from the inquiry. It has filed three lawsuits in the case in Dane County.

The group's senior adviser, Melanie Sloan, said American Oversight is active in several states, reviewing what she said are legislative attempts to perpetuate "The Big Lie" that Democrat Joe Biden did not win the 2020 election.

Melanie Sloan, senior adviser at American Oversight.
Photo provided by American Oversight
Melanie Sloan, senior adviser at American Oversight.

Sloan said Gableman and Vos seem to have already decided the outcome of the Wisconsin audit, "that there was a fraud — even though it is well known that there was not a fraud in Wisconsin," Sloan said. "The Wisconsin citizenry deserves to see the background, what's going on behind the scenes in this case, as well as what Speaker Vos and Michael Gableman want to show people."

Sloan said her group is making use of the state's open records law.

"American Oversight has filed numerous open records requests with Speaker Vos," Sloan said. "We have not received responses to our requests. He has indicated there are almost no documents. The reason we had depositions is that the judge in the case agreed with us that there are a lot of questions about how well they had conducted their searches — whether all documents related to this matter are being turned over as they should be under the Wisconsin Open Records Act."

Sloan said Vos was polite during the deposition and answered questions. She said the deposition with Vos' attorney Fawcett did not finish, but she hopes it will later this month.

WUWM reached out to Vos spokesperson Angela Joyce, but we have not heard back.

Vos repeatedly tried to prevent the deposition from happening, even asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court Tuesday night to block the session. The Racine County Republican argued he might not have some of the records because state lawmakers don't have to keep all their public documents.

The state justices ruled 4-3 that Vos had to sit and answer questions Wednesday in Madison.

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