Gableman's election subpoena remains on hold, judge to rule next month whether it's valid

NOW: Gableman’s election subpoena remains on hold, judge to rule next month whether it’s valid

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A Dane County judge will rule next month whether Michael Gableman's subpoena compelling the leader of the state's elections commission to testify in private is valid in Republicans' election investigation.

After nearly three hours of arguments, Dane County Circuit Judge Rhonda Lanford said she will decide by Jan. 10 whether or not to toss out Gableman's subpoena demanding the administrator of the state elections commission, Meagan Wolfe, to meet for a private interview.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos hired Michael Gableman to conduct a review of Wisconsin's 2020 presidential elections.

Beyond issuing a subpoena to Wolfe, Gableman also served the clerks and mayors of Wisconsin's five largest cities, requesting interviews behind closed doors.

Officials have not complied with the subpoenas and are reluctant to meet with Gableman privately at his Brookfield office, a key argument during Thursday's court hearing.  

Attorney General Josh Kaul, who's representing Wolfe, requested a restraining order, arguing Gableman lacks the authority to force Wolfe to testify in private instead of in front of the Assembly Elections Committee.

On Thursday, Assistant Attorney General Gabe Johnson-Karp told Judge Lanford the subpoena is too vague and broad and also contended interviews should be held in public.

"We're willing to reach an amicable resolution where Administrator Wolfe can provide testimony to an assembly committee, preserving the status quo and keeping Administrator Wolfe out of the Dane County Jail," said Johnson-Karp.

Attorneys representing Gableman and Vos filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit and argued Gableman's contract allows him to issue subpoenas for his investigation.

George Burnett, Speaker Vos' attorney, said Wolfe is acting like a "surrogate" for WEC and shouldn't be allow to ignore the subpoena. He also claimed Wolfe can't file a lawsuit without the approval from commissioners.

"When an administrator like Ms. Wolfe sues in her official's capacity, she is acting as a surrogate for the commission…she has no greater rights than the commission she acts for," said Burnett.

Regardless of Judge Lanford's decision, it would not end Gableman's investigation.

Gableman's review of the 2020 election comes after numerous reports and a state audit found no widespread voter fraud.

Recounts and legal challenges have also failed to produce evidence the election was stolen.

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