Speaker Vos denies claim the election was stolen is a conspiracy theory, defends Gableman's staffers

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Assembly Speaker Robin Vos doesn't believe unfounded claims the that election was stolen are considered  conspiracy theories, despite for months acknowledging Joe Biden is the president.

Speaker Vos' comments come days after Michael Gableman, former Supreme Court justice hired by Vos to investigated the 2020 election, revealed several staffers on his payroll. Some include conspiracy theorists and others have close ties to former President Donald Trump.

Despite all the evidence, Vos said he doesn't believe the unproven and baseless claims of a stolen election is considered a conspiracy theory.

"I think people put ideas forward, sometimes they are proven to be true, sometimes they are not proven to be true, but I wouldn't say they are conspiracy theories," Vos said to CBS 58.

"Because, especially early on, many people felt -- and probably still a sizable number in the country -- feel that the election was stolen," Vos added.

When asked if Vos firmly believes the election was stolen, he responded by saying "Joe Biden is the president."  

"We are not going to undo the 2020 election, but I do think there are major problems that need to be fixed," said Vos.

Republican elected officials in Wisconsin continue to cast doubts on the election results almost a year after Congress counted the electoral votes making Joe Biden the next president.

Since then, former President Donald Trump has convinced supporters the election was stolen despite election officials across the country, and Trump's attorney general, verifying the election was secure.

Several legal challenges and recounts in Wisconsin have also upheld the results which found Biden narrowly won.

State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-West Point) slammed Vos' comments and other Republicans who continue to spread false claims about the election.

"I just think they all need to shut up," Erpenbach said. "They know the election wasn't stolen and they are sowing doubt with the coming [2022] November election.". 

Gableman's Staffers

Speaker Vos is also defending staffers Gableman hired to help him with his investigation. It comes after some Democrats called for some members to be fired and kicked off the payroll.

Democrats on the Assembly Elections Committee are skeptical of Ron Heuer, president of the Wisconsin Voters Alliance and chair of the Kewaunee County Republican Party. Heuer was hired as an investigator to look into nursing homes, according to Gableman.

This week, reports revealed Heuer's social media posts he made before he was hired by Gableman, which include an outlandish Facebook post targeting Black politicians and conspiracy theories about the election.

Vos said he wants people who are questioning the election to be a part of Gableman's review.

"That's what I want. I want people who are looking into the problems and do the research," said Vos.

Some of Heuer's Facebook posts include a reposted picture of a laughing Vice President Kamala Harris next to a laughing hyena. Another mocks former first lady Michelle Obama's weight, "Looks like Michelle has been on a Fritos diet of late," Heuer said in the post.

Heuer told the Journal Sentinel he saw nothing wrong with the posts.

Speaker Vos said he was not aware of the social media posts by Heuer, but "will look into them."

The Rochester Republican also expressed he doesn't worry how the public may view Gableman's investigation and those hired to assist him.

Vos blamed Democrats for attempting to "character assassinate and smear" Gableman's probe.

"I know a lot of Republicans that are embarrassed by Mike Gableman right now," said Erpenbach. "These Republicans need to start pushing back, because it's an embarrassment and it's a threat to democracy."

Compelling Mayors to Testify

Michael Gableman testified last week that he made legal filings against the mayors of Green Bay and Madison because he said they are not cooperating with his investigation.

Gableman, who's being paid $676,000 in taxpayer funds, wants to throw both mayors in jail if they don't sit down with him for interviews, a move that Vos viewed as a last resort.

"That would never be my first effort. I want them to cooperate, let's hope they cooperate."

An outside attorney for Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich criticized the legal filing, known as a writ of attachment, telling the Wisconsin State Journal it's not legal to compel testimony that wasn't filed in correct court.

Gableman filed the writ of attachment in Waukesha County.

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway has repeatedly said the subpoenas compelling her to meet with Gableman are only legal if conducted in public, before a legislative committee.

Vos argued interviews should be held behind closed doors, comparing them to a criminal investigation when law enforcement doesn't release all the details until the investigation is complete.

 However, the investigation is different because it was launched by Vos and is being conducted under the Legislature.

When pressed on the issue, Vos downplayed the need to conduct interviews in public.

"You don't investigate in public, you investigate to be able to try and find the truth, and then bring all your documentation out and say I was able to prove X or prove Y," Vos said.

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