Gableman subpoenas immigrant group for election records
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The immigration rights group Voces de la Frontera Action headed to court Wednesday to try to block a subpoena issued by the former state Supreme Court justice who Republicans hired to investigate the 2020 presidential election.
The group said in a statement that the subpoena from Michael Gableman is “astoundingly broad and invasive” and seeks a “veritable mountain of internal documents and communications.” It also marks a broadening of the Gableman investigation into groups not directly associated with the process of running elections.
The subpoena, issued Dec. 28 that Voces de la Frontera Action said it received Jan. 5, sought a response by Wednesday. It asked for emails and other communications related to the 2020 election, as well as information about the group’s finances and contacts with government officials and other nonprofits.
“Gableman’s subpoena is modern-day McCarthyite political theater designed to perpetuate lies about the 2020 election and silence and intimidate voters of color from exercising their right to free speech and their right to vote,” Christine Neumann-Ortiz, the group’s executive director, said in a statement.
Gableman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The group, which is the advocacy arm of Voces de la Frontera, said Gableman has no authority over non-governmental organizations. It filed a motion with Dane County Circuit Judge Rhonda Lanford on Wednesday asking her to quash the subpoena, saying it is overbroad and violates the group’s First Amendment rights to free speech and free assembly. The judge set a hearing for Feb. 2.
The motion was filed as part of a lawsuit Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul has filed that seeks to block another subpoena Gableman issued to Wisconsin Elections Commission Administrator Meagan Wolfe compelling her to submit to questioning at his Brookfield office.
Lanford earlier this month declined to immediately block the subpoenas issued to the Wolfe and commission, but also refused to dismiss the lawsuit.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos hired Gableman last summer to look into the 2020 election after former President Donald Trump complained that Wisconsin Republicans weren’t doing enough to show Joe Biden stole the state from him. Biden defeated Trump by about 21,000 votes. A recount and multiple court challenges have revealed no evidence of widespread fraud.
Gableman has filed subpoenas seeking election records from the state’s five largest cities and demanding their mayors submit to questioning. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Sunday that he also has subpoenaed two companies that manufacture voting machines and software, Colorado-based Dominion Voting Systems and Nebraska-based Electronic Systems & Software, as well as elections commission Chair Ann Jacobs, a Democrat.
His probe is costing taxpayers about $676,000. Vos has said the investigation is likely to extend beyond February, even though he had originally wanted it to conclude by the end of last year.
Vos said during a WisPolitics.com luncheon in Madison on Wednesday that Gableman’s investigation “could have been neater,” the Wisconsin State Journal reported. He also attacked Democrats for accusing the GOP of trying to curtail voting rights and the media for obsessing over Gableman’s investigation.
Also on Wednesday, the Republican-controlled Assembly Elections Committee approved a motion of approval related to Gableman’s probe, saying it was OK with him interviewing people privately. Democrats objected, saying all of those subpoenaed should testify before the committee in public.