Tag: michael gableman
Wisconsin's Top Election Denier Urges 'Revolution'

Wisconsin's Top Election Denier Urges 'Revolution'

Last week, former Wisconsin state Supreme Court Judge Michael Gableman repeated conspiracy theories and unproven allegations about the 2020 presidential election during a speech at a Republican fundraiser.

He also brought up the specter of "revolution."

Gableman's remarks came during an Outagamie County Republican Party Constitution Day dinner in Appleton, Wisconsin. The keynote speaker was Republican gubernatorial nominee Tim Michels, who is challenging Democratic Gov. Tony Evers in November.

"It's a beautiful world, but it's that very comfort that is keeping us from what our founders knew to be the only way to keep an honest government, which is revolution," Gableman said during his speech last Friday. "Thomas Jefferson said that the Tree of Liberty must be watered by the blood of patriots every generation. I don't think that's going to happen, and our president has gone out of his way to say, 'Don't even think about a revolution, we've got F14s, and you've got...' Who talks like that?"

The speech was recorded by Lauren Windsor, who created the anti-Republican sting operation The Undercurrent.

Gableman, who served on the court from 2008 to 2018, was the subject of an investigation involving a possible breach of ethics in a campaign ad against one of his colleagues. The court deadlocked on disciplinary action before the case was ultimately dismissed.

Last year, Republican Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos hired Gableman to conduct an investigation into alleged fraud in the 2020 election, following intense criticism by former President Donald Trump over what he baselessly claimed were irregularities in Wisconsin's electoral system. A partial recount and a review by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau, among other initiatives, found no widespread election fraud.

Gableman's recommendations included a section on providing a "method" for pre- and post-certification challenges to presidential elections. In this section he suggested that the legislature "might also consider formalizing the ability of candidates to assemble alternative slates of electors, to ratify an already lawful process."

Multiple state Republican state parties formed alternative slates of electors in 2020 in a bid to prevent President Joe Biden's win from being certified.

During his speech, Gableman repeated the outlines of his report, which largely involved what he characterized as a plot by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, to put state election officials on his payroll and have them mobilize Black voters.

"In 2019," Gableman told the audience, "Mark Zuckerberg decided that he did not want Donald Trump to be president anymore and that he was going to use whatever part of his vast fortune was necessary to see to it that Trump was not reelected."

He went on to describe how Zuckerberg spent millions to win Wisconsin for Biden and claimed that he had followed a playbook designed by David Plouffe, a longtime advisor to former President Barack Obama.

Gableman was referring to an $8.8 million grant from the Center for Tech and Civic Life, which is funded in part by Zuckerberg. The grant was distributed to five of Wisconsin's largest cities — Milwaukee, Madison, Racine, Kenosha, and Green Bay — to assist with electoral logistics. This was especially needed during the 2020 election because of restrictions around voting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vos fired Gableman in August, ending an investigation that had lasted more than a year and cost Wisconsin taxpayers more than $1 million.

"We're going to continue to be paying for these lies both financially and morally. It is far past time that his lies and misinformation have been put to an end," Democratic state Sen. Melissa Agard told WisPolitics.

Michels himself has taken a page from Gableman's playbook by casting doubt on the 2020 election results.

"Certainly, there was a lot of bad stuff that happened," Michels told conservative radio host Joe Giganti in June. "There was certainly illegal ballots. How many? I don't know if Justice Gableman knows. I don't know if anybody knows."

Michels' campaign website features a "blueprint to restore election integrity," which echoes many of Gableman’s claims and recommendations, including the repealing of all of the Wisconsin Election Commission's guidelines and "freezing the issuance of new guidelines."

"We need to make it easier to vote, harder to cheat," the site says.

Michels has said he would also ban ballot drop boxes, and would require counties to provide judges on short notice to resolve disputes or emergencies at polling places on Election Day.

Ballot drop boxes were relatively uncontroversial before the pandemic. But during the 2020 election, they were used in greater numbers as more people were afraid to vote in person. Republicans have baselessly claimed that the boxes lead to fraudulent votes.

"We're gonna get those bills right, those bills Tony Evers vetoed, and we're going to get election integrity here in the state of Wisconsin. We're gonna stop the Zuckerbucks, stop the ballot harvesting," Michels said at last week's campaign event.

Referring to his service in the U.S. military, he noted that the oath he took to protect the country extended to protecting American democracy.

"We will have election integrity in Wisconsin," he told the audience. "We will lead the way for the United States of America to make sure the cheating stops!"

Michels has been accused of flip-flopping, especially when it comes to supporting Trump's election fraud lies. During a debate in July, he said that he would not make decertifying the 2020 election a priority, the New York Times reported, only to later say that he would consider any legislation supplied by the state legislature.

"Michels and Gableman have staked out the most radical positions on the 2020 election in order to pander to Donald Trump and his MAGA base," Hannah Menchhoff, rapid response director of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, told the American Independent Foundation.

"We can safely say that Tim Michels and Michael Gableman are two peas in a pod when it comes to promoting election conspiracy theories and attempting to illegally overturn free and fair election results. Tim Michels wants to disenfranchise voters and take away their fundamental rights, proving once again that he is too radical for Wisconsin."

Neither Michels nor Gableman returned requests for comment on this story.

Reprinted with permission from American Independent.

Wisconsin GOP Leader Fires Election Fraud Investigator He Hired

Wisconsin GOP Leader Fires Election Fraud Investigator He Hired

Wisconsin’s Republican speaker of the State Assembly, Robin Vos, on Friday fired a conservative former state Supreme Court justice he handpicked to investigate fraud in the state’s 2020 elections, ending a 14-month, taxpayer-funded inquiry that yielded no evidence of electoral wrongdoing.

Under pressure from Trump and cronies to overturn his 2020 loss in the state, Vos hired the former state Supreme Court Justice, Michael Gableman, in July 2021 as a special counsel to probe the state’s election results.

However, the relationship soured after Vos refused Gableman’s entreaties to decertify the 2020 election results despite finding no evidence of significant fraud during his inquiry, which cost taxpayers $1.1 million.

Gableman had noted in a report of his findings that decertifying the state’s election results “would not, for example, change who the current president is,” yet he joined Trump in disseminating bogus conspiracy theories about the 2020 elections and backing Vos’ primary challenger.

The weeks-long standoff between Vos and Gableman ended after the speaker narrowly edged out his Trump-backed opponents in the state’s primaries.

"After having many members of our caucus reach out to me over the past several days, it is beyond clear to me that we only have one choice in this matter, and that's to close the Office of Special Counsel," Vos announced in a statement.

Gableman, whose abilities Vos was initially “supremely confident” in, became a bullhorn for Trump’s Big Lie and led Republican efforts to decertify the state’s presidential election results, contradicting the Legislature’s findings in November that no basis in law supported decertification.

Vos called Gableman an “embarrassment” Tuesday night and told WISN-TV that “he had fired Mr. Gableman by letter and that the two had not spoken in recent weeks,” according to the New York Times.

“I really don’t think there’s any need to have a discussion,” Vos said. “[Gableman] did a good job last year, kind of got off the rails this year.”

The Republican-led investigation drew scorn from its inception, as Gableman had — as early as November 7, 2020, just one day after the election — announced his belief that the 2020 election was stolen.

During his investigation, Gableman looked into the background of public employees as part of his investigation and threatened to lock up local officials who refused to answer his questions in private interviews — extreme steps that drew calls for the probe to be shut down.

In one case, part of a document titled “Cross Pollinators” on the special counsel’s website, Gableman labeled a Milwaukee city employee a Democrat because she "has a weird nose ring," plays video games, "loves nature and snakes" and lives with her boyfriend although they are not married,” according to CNN.

Wisconsin Democrats, who had assailed the special counsel and his investigation from the start, celebrated Gableman’s firing and slammed Vos for his hiring.

“Finally,” said Democratic Wisconsin Governor, Tony Evers.

In the days after his narrow victory in the primaries, Vos defended his decision to begin the Gableman probe but promised to end it.

“There were problems with the 2020 election that we need to fix — all of those things are real,” Vos told a conservative talk radio show in Milwaukee. “But somehow, Justice Gableman, as the investigation began to come to an end, decided it was more important to play to Donald Trump and to play to the very extreme of our party who thought we could unconstitutionally overturn the election than it was to be responsive to his client, which was the Legislature.”

Neither Gableman nor his representatives responded to multiple requests for a comment on the firing.

Wisconsin GOP’s Post-2020 Inquiry Slanders Bipartisan Pro-Voter Groups

Wisconsin GOP’s Post-2020 Inquiry Slanders Bipartisan Pro-Voter Groups

Last October, Michael Gableman -- a former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice and the Assembly Republicans' lead investigator in their post-2020 election review -- told reporters that he did not have “any understanding of how elections work.” On Tuesday, Gableman summarized his findings to lawmakers, showing a continuing lack of understanding of how elections work, but a fresh and belligerent impulse to smear Wisconsin elections for partisan gain.

Gableman’s report to lawmakers was filled with error-laden, guilt-by-association attacks on election officials and national non-profits that assisted Wisconsin voters after the state's disastrous April 2020 presidential primary – where Republican-led litigation stopped Democratic Gov. Tony Evers from postponing the primary during the pandemic’s first weeks. The court fights and ensuing administrative chaos led to scores of polls being closed due to staff shortages, hours-long waits for voters in several cities, exposure to COVID-19 for poll workers and voters. That fiasco became a national model of how not to run an election in a public health crisis.

The story of how Wisconsin’s election officials and non-governmental experts pivoted in the months that followed, to avoid repeating the primary’s mistakes and to accommodate voters before vaccines existed, was absent from Gableman’s screed -- in which, among other things, he called for the dismantling of the statewide Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC), a bipartisan panel which Republicans created in 2015 and had sanctioned 2020’s emergency measures.

Gableman also attacked officials from Wisconsin’s cities, Democratic epicenters, for taking grants from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s family foundation, which paid for protective equipment and to modernize infrastructure to accommodate voters who wanted to cast a mailed-out ballot or vote early in person. (Nationally, Zuckerberg’s grants were on par with Congress’s emergency election funding to respond to the pandemic.)

“Partisan groups, partisan people, coming in and pretending to be for transparency, for accurate voter rolls,” Gableman said, as he wove a tapestry where election officials and non-profits with election administration expertise were colluding with Democrats to drive up voter turnout to beat Donald Trump (who lost to Joe Biden in Wisconsin by 20,608 votes). “There’s no record in front of us that any of the five [of the state’s most populous] cities needed any kind of protective equipment or [grant] money… Our Wisconsin cities were doing just fine.”

The tenor of Gableman’s two-hour-plus presentation was best captured in 20 minutes of video interviews he played featuring eight elderly nursing home residents, most of whom had severe memory loss. He pushed them to display their confusion onscreen – as proof, he posited, that nursing home workers had illegally been filling out their ballots.

One resident, Marie Heyden, replied, “Gosh, I don’t know the right thing,” when asked by Gableman how she would vote on raising taxes, suggesting, in fact, that she may have been competent to vote. However, Gableman told legislators that 90,000 elders lived in nursing facilities across the state. He omitted that the WEC voted in 2020 to suspend the rules that specialized deputies go into nursing homes to help residents vote—because, at that time, no outsiders were allowed into these homes to prevents seniors from catching Covid-19.

Yet like many pro-Trump Republicans seeking to cast doubt on 2020’s election results, Gableman cited a figure – 90,000 nursing home residents statewide – that was not related to any proven record of illegal voting, but was several times larger than the election’s margin.

“As you hear testimony complaining about alleged violations of the law by the WI Election Comm, recognize these decisions were made unanimously by the bipartisan commission in April 2020, and went unchallenged in court [by Republicans] until AFTER their candidate lost,” tweeted David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research (CEIR), which assists Democratic and Republican officials. Becker helped dispense the Zuckerberg grants and was repeatedly attacked by Gableman.

“Those same COVID-related accommodations were affirmed in August 2020, I believe, by a 5-1 bipartisan vote. Both votes and accommodations were done publicly, and well known to supporters of the losing candidate. Why did they go unchallenged, if such a serious legal violation?” Becker’s thread continued. “To summarize the results of months of investigation, and $600K of taxpayer money, the investigation has discovered, at most, 8 possible cases of voter fraud statewide, in an election Biden won 500 days ago by more than 20K votes.”

Gableman attacked other non-profits, which, notably, have worked with Democrats and Republicans in numerous states to bring greater efficiencies to elections. The Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) helps states update voter rolls by using more accurate data to remove people who moved or died, as well as identify eligible but unregistered voters – which local officials contact and urge to register. Gableman incorrectly said ERIC was funded by financier George Soros, an oft-wielded but incorrect accusation among right-wingers that has anti-Semitic overtones. He also said that communities of color face no voting barriers.

Gableman similarly attacked “the unknown” National Vote at Home Institute (NVAHI), which is led by the former Oregon Secretary of State, Phil Kiesling, a Democrat who oversaw the nation’s first effort to replace precinct voting with mailed-out ballots. In 2020, NVAHI’s staff, led by former election officials from other western states that shifted to voting by mail, shared their best practices with officials in many states like Wisconsin, where voting with mailed-out ballots was not widespread. In election circles, NVAHI is well known and respected.

Gableman said that the WEC, ERIC, NVAHI, CEIR all were shadow Democratic operations, which is inaccurate as all of them – governmental and non-governmental – work with both parties. What they all are dedicated to, however, is maximizing participation in well-run elections. (In November 2021’s elections, higher turnout helped to elect Republicans.)

“A key question that Gableman should address is why, if the elections were all tainted, any of the legislators who empowered him, who were elected on the same ballots, have any authority? Should their elections be decertified too?” Becker tweeted. “FACT: WI’s voter turnout rate in 2020 was about the same as it was in 2012, and 2004, for instance, right around 75%. There’s nothing suspicious about the voter turnout in WI, which has traditionally high turnout, despite insinuations to the contrary.”

Gableman ended his presentation by saying that he has only spent about half of the Assembly’s $600,000 appropriation and pledged to keep investigating to get to “the truth.”