Chair of Senate elections committee doesn’t support another election probe

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The Republican chair of the Senate’s elections committee doesn’t believe it’s necessary to launch another investigation into the results of the 2020 election. 

Senator Kathy Bernier (R-Chippewa Falls) said it wouldn’t be productive to have another review of the presidential election results because two are already ongoing. 

“Having another separate investigation...I don’t think would be fruitful,” said Bernier. “Right now, I have full confidence in the forensic audit that the Legislative Audit Bureau is doing.”

Bernier’s comments come just days after her Republican colleague, Rep. Janel Brandtjen, chair of the Assembly’s election committee, issued subpoenas to take ballots and voting machines from Milwaukee and Brown counties. 

“I don't know why Janel is not holding off a bit until we get the Legislative Audit Bureau. Maybe she doesn't have as much confidence in them as I do,” Bernier said. 

Brandtjen wants to conduct a “cyber forensic” review of the results despite a top Republican pushing back against her efforts and others questioning if she has the authority to do so. 

A memo from the nonpartisan Legislative Council suggests the subpoenas are invalid because they don’t have signatures from Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and the Assembly’s chief clerk, Ted Blazel. Only Vos has the power to issue subpoenas, according to the memo. 

Gov. Tony Evers said on Tuesday Milwaukee and Brown County should not comply with the subpoenas.

“Hell no,” said Evers when asked if the clerks from both counties should hand over voting equipment and ballots. “You’ve seen what’s going on in Arizona. It’s a clown show.”

Vos also shot down the idea of launching another election probe, arguing he already has a special council, former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, looking into the results. Prior to announcing Gableman's role, Vos had hired two retired police officers, at taxpayers' expense, to review the election. Vos last week said they quit earlier this month. 

Republican lawmakers have also ordered the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau to conduct a review, which will look at how clerks complied with election laws. It also seeks to study voting machines and other inquiries about how the election was administered. 

The move comes as Republicans continue to fight election laws in the battleground state after former President Donald Trump was narrowly defeated by President Joe Biden in the 2020 election. 

There’s been no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Wisconsin and Biden’s victory has been held up in recounts and lawsuits brought forth by Trump’s allies. Only a couple of cases of potential voter fraud were flagged by state election officials following the November election. Wisconsin's Election Commission identified just 27 cases of fraud out of 3.3 million votes cast. 

Senator Bernier, who served as the Chippewa County clerk for over a decade, said once all the investigations are complete, she hopes the findings will begin to restore confidence in elections.

“As far as any Republicans who still think the election was stolen in 2020, until the full audit is finished, and I’m hoping it’s very thorough, it will provide confidence in the electoral process.”

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