Gableman charged taxpayers $22,000 for 'minimal' work during election review, admits to deleting records

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MADISON Wis. (CBS 58) -- The Republican attorney hired to examine Wisconsin's 2020 election was still getting a grasp of how elections work and did little investigating during the first two months of his review while taxpayers paid him $22,000, according to testimony in court.

Former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman answered questions Thursday, June 23 in Dane County Court about records related to his probe and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos' involvement in an open records lawsuit filed by American Oversight.

Vos hired Gableman last year to investigate the 2020 election and agreed to pay him $11,000 a month for his work. That monthly salary has since been cut in half under an amended contract.

While testifying, Gableman said he spent most of this time researching election laws at the New Berlin Library because he didn't have a computer, looked for office space and made trips out of state in July and August 2021, the first two months of his probe.

"What I've heard today is whatever work that was done was minimal and that the taxpayer we're paying $11,000 a month to do," said Dane County Circuit Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn.

In August, Gableman also said he was diagnosed with Covid-19 and had to go to the emergency room after attending an election conspiracy event hosted by MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell in South Dakota.

"I went out there because I thought there would be some solid evidence of Chinese interference with the [voting] machines," Gableman said. "I was annoyed…especially as it turned out I had Covid…I didn't find anything that I could use during that seminar."

Gableman answered questions by American Oversight Attorney Christa Westerberg for over an hour and admitted to destroying documents he claimed were not relevant and only did so when there was no open record request at the time.

"Did I delete documents? Yes. I did," Gableman said to Westerberg.

It was a strikingly different court appearance by Gableman, who earlier this month made snide remarks about Westerberg and mocked Dane County Circuit Judge Frank Remington and after being forced to testify in another case.

Judge Remington found Gableman in contempt of court and fined him $2,000 a day until he complies with a court order to produce records about his review. Gableman has filed an appeal to the judge's ruling and he could face additional punishment for his behavior in court.

Both Vos and Gableman have been found in contempt by two different judges in Madison. It's related to three ongoing lawsuits filed by American Oversight seeking records about the election investigation.

Bailey-Rihn set another hearing for July 28th where she'll determine whether Vos will face penalties for handing open record requests.

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