Former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman's inquiry into the 2020 presidential election has reportedly been halted amid several lawsuits over his investigation.
While his investigation into the election is paused, Gableman's $11,000 monthly salary will be halved to $5,500, and he will receive a $2,500 monthly stipend to pay for rent, General Assembly Speaker Robin Vos announced Wednesday, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
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"Until we win those lawsuits, you know, we are pausing the investigation because it's not like we're going to keep looking into things we've already discovered," Vos, a Republican, said.
Gableman's 2020 election investigation could stretch into next year thanks to the pause. Wisconsin Republicans signed a new contract with Gableman that took effect May 1 and noted salary changes, per a copy published by WQOW. Additional expenses Gableman may need will have to be preapproved by the General Assembly, according to the contract.
"The office has renewed a contract with the Assembly and continues to work to vindicate the rights of the state Legislature and also continue to work on production in preparation for any victory in Wisconsin state court," a spokesperson for Gableman told the Washington Examiner.
"This is going to end up costing taxpayers a lot more than $5,500 because it's going to drag on for months and months and months. Lawsuits tend to rack up other expenses," Democratic state Rep. Mark Spreitzer said, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The contract notes that Gableman's office "may remain open in order [to] prosecute a series of lawsuits." There are at least five lawsuits being litigated in court over Gableman's inquiry, including two regarding records requests and three about his authority in the investigation.
Two judges have demanded that Gableman preserve documents in his investigation after his office claimed it had been destroying unimportant documents, apparently flouting state open records laws. One of the rulings came last week and was directed at Vos. The judge demanded that Vos ensure Gableman preserve documents and threatened to hold the speaker in contempt of court if he failed to do so. The judge had previously held Vos in contempt for not releasing all the records from Gableman's inquiry in an earlier order back in March. Another judge ordered Gableman to preserve documents.
The two lawsuits related to records requests were brought forth by American Oversight, a watchdog group that claims he has refused to comply with Wisconsin open records laws. The other three lawsuits pending entail Gableman's attempt to procure interviews with mayors and election officials in the state.
Gableman initially received $676,000 for his investigation when it began last summer and spent roughly $500,000 of that by March, according to WQOW.
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In March, Gableman released his second interim report, claiming the state should consider decertifying the election due to widespread malfeasance. At the center of his allegations were assertions that Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg had an improper influence on the election by funding a nonprofit group that provided financial assistance to municipalities scrambling to adjust election procedures to the pandemic.
His report was heavily panned by the Wisconsin Elections Commission, which claimed it was rife with mischaracterizations of the state’s election practices. Gableman presented his preliminary findings to members of the General Assembly in March and had been expected to issue a final report on the matter. Gableman released his first interim report in November 2021 that laid out concerns he had with the commission.