Judge rules against Vos, Gableman in open records lawsuit

March 2, 2022 GMT

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin judge on Wednesday ruled that Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman denied or delayed access to requested public records related to the investigation into the 2020 presidential election.

Dane County Circuit Judge Frank Remington put his ruling on hold pending a hearing on Tuesday.

Remington also ruled that Vos and Gableman would be responsible for covering legal costs of the liberal watchdog group American Oversight that brought the lawsuit. He also fined Vos, Gableman and the Assembly $1,000 each, fines that would likely be paid by taxpayers if they stand.

Remington in January ordered that records requested by American Oversight be turned over by Jan. 31 and he would decide at next week’s hearing whether to make them public. The judge described some of the records he received from Gableman in Wednesday’s order and said they should not have been withheld from the open records request.

”(The office’s) decision at the time of its denial of access was to send a three sentence, misspelled, summary rejection email,” Remington wrote. “This is the sort of ‘unconsidered and irrational’ conduct deserving of punitive damages.”

Remington said in his ruling Wednesday that the “denials, delays, and refusals” of Vos and Gableman “violate the letter and the spirit of Wisconsin’s public records law.”

Gableman’s attorney James Bopp said the ruling would be appealed and that no records should be released pending that appeal. Vos’ attorney Ron Stadler declined to comment, citing the ongoing litigation.

“Speaker Vos and Michael Gableman have done everything in their power to avoid running a transparent investigation,” said Melanie Sloan, senior adviser at American Oversight. “Their claims of seriousness and non-partisanship have been belied by their actions from the outset. The court’s ruling is clear: Wisconsin law gives the public the right to see these records.”

American Oversight has filed three lawsuits seeking records related to the investigation that’s funded with $676,000 in taxpayer money. Gableman presented his latest report on Tuesday and said the investigation would continue.