Wisconsin Republicans’ 14-month investigation into the 2020 election results, which cost taxpayers $1.1 million and found no evidence of significant fraud, ended on Friday when the top GOP legislator who first announced the investigation closed the door. man he had entrusted to lead it.
Under pressure from former President Donald J. Trump and his allies, Robin Vos, the Republican Speaker of the State Assembly, had moved in June 2021 to hire Michael J. Gableman, a conservative former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice, to review the results of to examine the state for 2020. .
But after weeks of open tension between Mr. Fox and Mr. Gableman — partly over the speaker’s refusal to decertify Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the state, and partly over Mr. Gableman’s approval of a primary challenger of Mr. Fox – the speaker said he would close the investigation. The resignation was first reported by The Associated Press.
Gableman has become a major driver of conspiracy theories about the 2020 Wisconsin election and a leader of far-right Republicans’ efforts to undo the state’s presidential results, which cannot legally be done.
Mr Vos told WISN-TV in Milwaukee that he had dismissed Mr Gableman by letter and that the two had not spoken in recent weeks.
“I really don’t think a discussion is necessary,” says Mr. Vos. “He did well last year, this year he got a little off the rails.”
Wisconsin Democrats, who have criticized Mr. Gableman and his investigation from the outset, celebrated his resignation and criticized Mr. Vos for hiring Mr. Gableman in the first place.
“Finally,” said Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat.
So far, Mr. Vos has publicly supported the state-funded research, even as Mr. Gableman expanded increasingly outlandish theories about the 2020 election. In March, the former prosecutor presented a report to state lawmakers that they should consider postponing the election — a proposal that has no basis in state or federal law, but has nevertheless been passed by Mr. Trump and his most ardent supporters. in Wisconsin.
At an election night party after his narrow win on Tuesday, Mr. Fox said Mr. Gableman was “an embarrassment to the state.”
In the days that followed, Mr. Vos defended his decision to start the Gableman investigation, but indicated that he would soon end it.
“There were issues with the 2020 election that we need to resolve — all those things are real,” he said on a conservative talk show in Milwaukee on Wednesday. “But somehow, as the investigation began to end, Judge Gableman decided it was more important to play for Donald Trump and play to the hilt of our party that thought we could destroy the election unconstitutionally than it was was receptive to his client, that was the legislature.”
Mr. Vos said in that interview that he gave Mr. Gableman “a very clear direction: ‘You can’t be involved in politics, you can’t go to meetings. We want you to be an independent voice.” And he broke that.”
But when Mr. Fox announced the appointment in June 2021, he did so at the Wisconsin Republican Party’s annual convention. And he did not publicly rebuke Gableman when the former judge attended a political event with Mike Lindell, the executive director of MyPillow who has funded many efforts to reverse the election, or when he appeared at campaign events featuring local Republican Party branches.
Mr Vos and his spokeswoman did not respond to messages on Friday. Mr Gableman’s spokesman, Zak Niemierowicz, said he resigned from the investigation last month. Mr Gableman did not respond to messages.
Francesca Hong, a Madison stateswoman, was one of four Democratic lawmakers to hold a state audit of Mr. Gableman demanded. On Friday she said that Mr. Vos was equally responsible.
“Michael Gableman, fully engaged and encouraged by Robin Vos, has been nothing but a conspiracy theorist and fraudster,” she says. wrote on Twitter“dividing our state by undermining the integrity of our election at a price tag of more than 1 million Wisconsin tax dollars.”
Ben Wikler, the chairman of the Wisconsin Democratic Party, said in a statement, “Like Dr. Frankenstein, Robin Vos created a political monster that eventually turned against its creator.”