GOP election reviews face battleground state legal tests

And election experts have long warned that the reviews – which supporters often refer to as “audits,” a term disapproved by professional election administrators and pundits – are a political tool for former President Donald Trump and his supporters to express their conspiratorial beliefs about his Loss in 2020 to wash off the mainstream under the guise of government investigation.

“This is detrimental to our democracy,” said Josh Kaul, a Democrat, Wisconsin attorney general, who is pending litigation for his state to overturn a review. “We continued to see lies being made about the integrity of our elections.”

In Wisconsin, the effort is led by former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, with the assistance of President Robin Vos, the state’s most powerful Republican.

Gableman – who, before being asked to investigate, said “unelected bureaucrats” at the state election commission “Steal our voice” and later he said no “Having a comprehensive understanding of how elections work” – cast a wide net in his study. He has attempted to subpoena the Wisconsin Electoral Commission for an extensive record, and has sent a wave of subpoenas to individual cities in. Fired the state seeks a number of election-related records.

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, when asked how many times Gableman summoned her city, said it was “a good question” before picking up a list of city officials.

“It’s very, very broad. It just looks like a fishing trip to me, ”continued the Democratic Mayor. Her office published two new subpoenas on Monday issued to city officials in late 2021.

Neither Gableman nor Vos’ offices responded to POLITICO interview requests.

Kaul’s office is currently embroiled in a lawsuit attempting to assassinate a subpoena from Gableman to interview Meagan Wolfe, the Wisconsin Electoral Commission administrator. Kaul’s lawsuit argues that the subpoena should be issued against Wolfe for a number of reasons, including the fact that the subpoena is too broad and is meant to be a private rather than a public interview.

A judge from Dane County said after a hearing in late December that she would decide by January 10 whether Gableman’s subpoena is valid. This decision could have a cascading effect on other legal proceedings in the country. A separate court case – about Gableman to force a testimony of Rhodes-Conway and the Mayor of Green Bay on threat of jail – his next hearing is scheduled for January 21st.

“Gableman has asked for private statements in connection with many other subpoenas,” said Kaul. “And the same principles of law that apply in connection with our challenge would also apply to other statements that he seeks.”

On Tuesday, a Green Bay attorney filed a motion to court for sanctions against Gableman for his actions in the case.

Another case in Wisconsin could shed more light on Gableman’s investigation as well: In a lawsuit by the liberal research group American Oversight, a Dane County judge on Tuesday ordered Vos and an associate to testify on compliance requests on Jan. 12 to public records of the investigation.

A similar battle is ongoing in Pennsylvania between the state’s Democratic attorney general and Republican lawmakers who support their own election investigations.

The Republican Senate is conducting an investigation there, all amid an intra-party struggle between two rivals with plans for higher office. The Chamber’s Intergovernmental Operations Committee Chairman Senator Cris Dush has been appointed by State Senate President Jake Corman to lead the effort.

Corman is running for governor, and Mastriano is expected to submit his own application in the coming weeks.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro – the likely gubernatorial candidate of the Democratic Party – has been sued for killing the Pennsylvania main subpoena issued by Dush’s committee which seeks to force the state’s electoral department to release a range of data on the 9 million Pennsylvania voters, one of them some are not publicly available.

Shapiro’s lawsuit, which includes State Senate Democrats as challengers to the subpoena, argued that the subpoena had no “legitimate legislative purpose”, that Dush’s committee was not electoral, and that it violated the privacy of Pennsylvania voters.

In response to written inquiries from POLITICO, Dush’s office said that “we believe the Senate’s legal and constitutional authority to conduct this investigation is clear in this case” and that the “investigation is intended to increase public confidence To restore the way our elections are going ”. Run. “

A state court heard arguments in the case in mid-December, and a Dush adviser said a verdict was expected in “weeks, not months”. However, this should only be the opening salvo in the legal dispute. Whichever side wins, the verdict is likely to face appeal in the state Supreme Court.

While the investigation was being challenged by the courts, the investigation was dragged on. Dush announced in November that the committee has hired one company called Envoy Sage to conduct the investigation, which he described as “very competent, impartial and experienced”. But in a court case in December, lawyers in Shapiro’s office found that envoy Sage had “no documented experience in electoral matters” and was not an appropriate choice for handling sensitive information.

Even while the Pennsylvania and Wisconsin litigation continues, Republican-led efforts to investigate the 2020 elections elsewhere have failed to confirm Trump’s lies about the election. The Texas State Department opened an investigation in September, just hours after Trump publicly urged the state’s top Republicans to do so. The results of the first phase, which were buried on New Year’s Eve, no problems worth mentioning found.

The same is true of the Arizona Inquiry, the original investigation that sparked copycat efforts across the country – both Dush and Gableman, for example, had traveled to Arizona to oversee the trial. Election experts had torn up the party criticism in Arizona, which Trump had strongly promoted as being pursued by conspiracy-driven and inexperienced investigators.

The final voting record of this review was largely in line with the official results, but experts say that does not change the fact that the report should be rejected outright.

And a refutation on Wednesday Report from Maricopa County, the largest county in the state that was the focus of the review in Arizona, criticized efforts led by the state Senate for “flawed analysis, inaccurate claims, misleading conclusions, and a lack of understanding of federal and state electoral laws.”

“The events of last January 6th were inspired and motivated by the persistent lie that free and fair elections were rigged,” Maricopa chairman Bill Gates and district clerk Stephen Richer, both Republicans, said in an end published Explanation of a four hour presentation. “We will not let these lies go unchecked.”

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