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Green Bay mayor seeks sanctions against head of GOP probe

January 5, 2022 GMT

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — An attorney for Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich is asking a judge to impose sanctions on the special investigator leading the Republican-ordered investigation into the 2020 election, saying Michael Gableman has made incorrect statements and should take out full-page newspaper ads to correct the record.

Genrich attorney Jeffrey Mandell made the request in a filing Tuesday in a case brought by Gableman in Waukesha County Circuit Court. Gableman is trying to force Genrich and Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway to answer questions behind closed doors related to the ongoing investigation. He asked the judge to jail them if they did not comply.

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Gableman, a former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, did not immediately return messages Wednesday seeking comment.

Gableman was hired by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to investigate the election at a cost of $6776,000 to taxpayers. His contract expired last month, but Vos has said the probe will likely go longer and cost more money.

Gableman wrongly claimed at a pro-Donald Trump rally in 2020 that the election in Wisconsin had been stolen by bureaucrats. He has met with and hired people who formerly worked for Trump and espoused conspiracy theories about the election to work with him on the investigation.

President Joe Biden won Wisconsin by just under 21,000 votes, an outcome that has withstood recounts and numerous lawsuits. An Associated Press review of battleground states contested by Trump, including Wisconsin, found too few cases of fraud to affect the outcome.

Gableman subpoenaed Genrich, Rhodes-Conway and the mayors of Racine, Milwaukee and Kenosha in October, but shortly afterward agreed to put off his interviews with them if the cities provided election-related information he had requested.

Gableman argues in his lawsuit that Genrich and Rhodes-Conway did not appear for depositions on Nov. 15, but the mayors argue Gableman had agreed to postpone those interviews. The mayors have said they turned over requested information to Gableman and the understanding was the interviews were not necessary.

Genrich attorney Mandell said in Tuesday’s court filing that Gableman’s attempt to force the mayor to submit to questioning was “frivolous” and rife with factual errors and misleading statements.

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Mandell asked that Judge Ralph Ramirez impose a number of sanctions on Gableman, including taking out full-page ads in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin State Journal and the Green Bay Press-Gazette acknowledging that he made inaccurate statements to the state Assembly elections committee about Genrich’s response to the subpoena.

Mandell also asked that Gableman be ordered to testify before the committee that it was inaccurate for him to have said previously that Genrich “violated a lawful obligations to provide testimony.”

Mandell is also asking that Gableman be fined, be required to take at least three hours of continuing education classes on legal ethics and have no further communication with Green Bay city officials and employees.

A hearing in that case is set for Jan. 21.

Another lawsuit, brought by Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul, seeks to block a subpoena from Gableman seeking records and a closed-door interview with the state’s top elections administrator, Meagan Wolfe.

Dane County Judge Rhonda Lanford has said she will issue a ruling by Monday.

Last week, Gableman issued additional subpoenas to Madison officials and a Democratic Wisconsin Elections Commission board member seeking more information. A justice department attorney sent Lanford a letter on Tuesday, saying additional legal action related to the latest subpoenas may be coming depending on how the judge rules on the earlier ones.