WISCONSIN- A retired Wisconsin Supreme Court justice investigating the state’s 2020 elections is threatening to jail two Democratic mayors if they don’t sit for depositions in the probe soon.
According to the retired justice, Michael Gableman, he believes the two mayors are engaged in a “cover-up” intended to stall his investigation, USAA News is reporting.
Earlier this week, Yahoo News reported that Gabelman is trying to obtain court orders forcing Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich to decide between answering his questions or being thrown in jail.
“[Green Bay Mayor] Eric Genrich and [Madison Mayor] Satya Rhodes-Conway have chosen to ignore the subpoenas issued by the Wisconsin Assembly because they have no intention of answering uncomfortable questions about what they did with the millions of dollars in Zuckerberg money that they took,’ Gableman alleges.
That refers to money given by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for the purposes of electioneering efforts on behalf of Democrats, in particular Joe Biden in swing states such as Wisconsin.
“Reasonable minds might wonder whether the millions of dollars each of these mayors received from the Zuckerbergs may have induced them to do something other than treating all candidates fairly and impartially and whether those mayors used the Zuckerberg money to get the vote out for Joe Biden,” Gableman alleged.
“They are trying to run and hide from accountability to the citizens they are supposed to serve. Why go through all of this legal evasion, maneuvering and expense unless they do not want the public to know what they have done?”
According to the two mayors, Gableman never provided them with specific dates and times for them to be interviewed. In fact a lawyer for Genrich said he was planning to pursue legal action against Gableman, alleging his work was “shoddy.”
Jeffrey Mandell, a lawyer for the city of Green Bay sent a letter to Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge Ralph Ramirez alleging the former justice’s work was so shoddy he would seek legal sanctions against him.
In his letter, Mandell argued that Gableman had filed the wrong type of lawsuit in the wrong court. He alleged that the type of case Gableman brought would only be used when private individuals have disputes over money.
“Based on our initial review, the Petition is not only lacking in legal merit and built upon a gross distortion of the relevant facts, but it departs so greatly from legal standards that Mayor Genrich intends to serve the Special Counsel with a motion for sanctions,’ Mandell wrote.
In October, Mandell wrote Gableman’s chief of staff, noting that his understanding was he was not seeking immediate testimony from Green Bay officials. Since no response was received from Gableman’s office, they assumed the had an immediate need to meet with him, Mandell wrote.
In a similar vein, Madison City Attorney Michael Haas sent a letter on Nov. 2 to Gableman advising him his understanding that based on past discussions with Gableman’s team, it wasn’t necessary for someone form Madison to testify “unless we are provided with a more specific scope of inquiry and reach an agreement on other details such as the format and length of any deposition.”
Haas claims neither Gableman nor his office responded to that letter.
Rhodes-Conway repeatedly has claimed she would be happy to discuss how the 2020 election was conducted, however insists such testimony should be made in public, not behind closed doors as Gableman wishes. On Thursday, she said Gableman’s team possessed an “abject lack of professionalism.”
In the case of Zuckerberg, he initially gave money to five mayors of Wisconsin allegedly for COVID relief, however those monies were later redirected toward a “get out the vote” campaign. According to Gableman, Zuckerberg’s actions amounted to a scheme by David Plouffe to defeat former President Donald Trump, which he is calling election interference.
In Wednesday testimony before the Wisconsin Committee on Campaigns and Elections, Gableman said he was investigating the relationship between former Facebook employee Michael Spitzer Rubenstein and the two mayors.
In fact, it is reported that Genrich actually turned over the election in his city to Democratic operatives tied to Zuckerberg, who spent $8.8 million in only five Wisconsin cities.
Gableman told the committee, “It’s very clear that Mark Zuckerberg’s goal was to defeat Donald Trump and elect Joe Biden.”
Gableman is threatening to subpoena Rubenstein for a deposition.
In October, Wisconsin’s Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul sued Gableman in court to block subpoenas issued to the state’s Elections Commission, while the former justice argued that Kaul and the commission don’t have the authority to sue him.
A hearing in the case filed against the two mayors is slated for Dec. 22. The suit filed by Kaul in Dane County is scheduled to be held the next day.
According to Mandell, Green Bay is trying to get the Waukesha case either thrown out, delayed, or combined with the Dane County case.
Gableman filed his lawsuit on Monday, announcing it on Wednesday when he appeared before the Committee on Campaigns and Elections. Yahoo said the lawsuit didn’t show up in the state’s database of court cases, however PBS Wisconsin obtained copies and posted them online Thursday. Officials from Madison and Green Bay said they had not yet been served with the lawsuits, but had seen the online copies.
Gableman is looking to interview the two mayors about grants they had received from Zuckerberg’s organization, the Center for Tech and Civic Life to assist in running their elections during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The center provided grants to over 200 Wisconsin communities, however the vast majority went to the five major cities in Wisconsin.
Courts have ruled the grants were legally permitted; however Republicans claim they were improper because a majority of the money went primarily to cities with large populations of Democrats.
Biden only defeated Trump by 21,000 votes in the state, a less than 1% margin of victory. Despite court rulings upholding Biden’s “victory,” Republicans argue more review is necessary and has provided Gableman and his team a budget of $676,000.
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