Milwaukee Co. clerk responds to election investigator's threat of subpoenas

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The lead investigator hired by Republican lawmakers to investigate the 2020 presidential election had a strong message to clerks in a video message, that he's willing to issue subpoenas if they don't corporate with his review.

Former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, who is being paid nearly $680,000 in taxpayer money for the investigation, released a rare six-minute video saying he doesn't have plans to overturn the election results, but instead wants to restore trust in the electoral process.

"We are not challenging the results of the 2020 election, rather we are holding government officials accountable to the public for their actions surrounding the elections," Gableman said.

He added, "County and municipal clerks have a duty to the people of our state to be forthcoming in this investigation. It is my sincere hope that Wisconsin election officials will live up to that duty, but if they do not we will use the power afforded to the special council to compel answers to these questions."

Gableman was hired by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) to oversee the probe which gives him the authority to issue subpoenas.

The retired justice made it clear that he will have no choice but to issue subpoenas if municipal and county clerks don't cooperate with his investigation.

"We will request from those officials, and others with potential knowledge of unlawful actions, and will compel them if necessary to produce documents and testimony."

The video comes days after some clerks criticized Gableman for not understanding how Wisconsin's elections operate after he sent an email requesting clerks keep data on voting machines, which is actually kept on a memory stick.

Milwaukee County clerk George Christenson tells CBS 58 he's hesitant to fully commit to Gableman's investigation since it remains unclear what he's asking for.

"We just don't know what he really wants," said Christenson. "This YouTube message was also really vague and it was just sort of to me, a little bit of a publicity stunt."

Gableman also called on clerks to provide proof the election was legitimate, a task Christenson said wouldn't be hard to prove referencing recounts, an audit and another on-going review being conducted by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau.

"We've shown the public that this election was ran fairly and accurately despite the dangers of a global pandemic," Christenson said. "We feel things went quite well in Milwaukee County as proven by the recount, and we would love to show him how the process and system works."

During the video, Gableman also claims there's "some evidence that has been produced previously that has shown some election officials acted unilaterally in deciding not to follow established state law," during the 2020 presidential election.

Christenson responded by calling that a "serious accusation" and said he welcomes Gablemen to show proof of that during his review.

"It seems he's attacking our election workers, and it's not appropriate and it's not good for our democracy," Christenson said.

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