Judge orders Vos held in contempt over election records

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A judge on Wednesday has ordered that Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos be held in contempt for failing to produce emails and text messages related to the investigation he ordered into the 2020 presidential election.

Dane County Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn, who last week told the Rochester Republican that her patience was wearing thin, found that Vos had violated the open records law by failing to turn over documents sought by the liberal watchdog group American Oversight.

Bailey-Rihn wrote that Vos and the state Assembly, “after hearing and notice, have chosen to willfully violate a court order and are held in contempt.” She told Vos and the Assembly to turn over records within 14 days and to pay $1,000 per day if they fail to do that. They will also have to pay some of American Oversight’s legal bills, the judge said.

Vos attorney Ronald Stadler told Bailey-RIhn a week ago that the work to retrieve Vos’s deleted emails from his legislative account was ongoing and he would need up to two weeks to review whatever is found. Stadler also said he had an expert witness who would testify that deleted text messages could not be recovered.

Stadler and Vos could not be reached for comment after office hours on Wednesday.

The case is one of three seeking records from Vos and the investigator he hired, former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, who is leading a probe into the 2020 election won by President Joe Biden. Gableman released his most recent report earlier this month and Vos extended his contract through the end of April.

Gableman began his investigation in June. He is being paid $11,000 a month under a contract Vos signed for $676,000 in taxpayer money.

Biden defeated Trump by about 21,000 votes in Wisconsin, an outcome that has withstood recounts, a nonpartisan audit, other reviews and multiple lawsuits.