Last week, testifying before lawmakers, Gableman finally disclosed information – including last names and pay rates – about some of the staffers assisting in the tax-payer funded probe into the 2020 presidential election.
Gableman – the former state Supreme Court Justice turned investigator – is in charge of the operation, after being tasked this summer by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to investigate an election that happened now thirteen months ago.
The investigation comes at taxpayer expense – about $670,000 dollars.
During last week’s hearing before lawmakers, Gableman criticized private grant money funneled to Wisconsin’s five largest cities – Madison, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Racine, and Kenosha.
In October 2020, WORT asked Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway how that money was used.
“We got a 1.3 million dollar grant from the Center for Tech and Civic Life to assist us with putting on a healthy safe and secure election during the covid-19 pandemic. And that grant has gone to cover costs like the drop boxes, and the additional costs for printing and mailing absentee ballots,” Mayor Rhodes-Conway said.
But last week, Gableman insisted that the money instead installed the center’s authority over the election.
“Those subpoena’s were issued to the Wisconsin Election Commission, the mayors of Green Bay, Milwaukee, Kenosha, Racine, and Madison, that is the five cities that took an aggregate of around $9 million from the Zuckerburg foundation, in exchange for ceding some of their authority to administer that election,” Gableman says.
Mayor Rhodes-Conway was originally subpoenaed to testify about that money by Gableman in early October, where she was asked to attend a closed-door meeting with Gableman’s staff. In a statement made in October said that she would gladly testify before anyone within the capital, but would only do so in an open and public setting.
A new subpoena was filed last week by Gableman in Waukesha County, and called for both Rhodes-Conway and Green Bay mayor Eric Genrich to be brought before Gableman by the Waukesha County Sheriff for questioning, or risk jail time if they refuse.
At the public hearing, Gableman explained why he had filed petitions against the two mayors.
“On this past Monday, November 29, I filed two petitions for writs of attachments in the circuit court of Waukesha County against the mayors of Green Bay and Madison, Eric Genrich and Satya Rhodes-Conway. I did so because, of all the clerks and all the mayors, those two failed without reason or excuse to appear for their deposition and to answer questions about how and to what extent Mark Zuckerberg’s employees, to plan and administer their city’s election in November 2020,” Gableman said.
When talking with WORT today, Rhodes-Conway said that she has attempted to communicate with Gableman’s team, but has so far only hit dead ends.
“We have provided them with numerous documents related to the November 2020 election, and we communicated that there are circumstance in which I would be happy to talk to folks about the November 2020 election and what a great job Madison did running it, but that I firmly believe that that should be in public where the press can watch, and that members of the public should be able to see how their taxpayer dollars are being spent,” Mayor Rhodes-Conways says.
Mayor Rhodes-Conway says she questions the legitimacy of the threats of jail time.
“The latest filing in Waukesha asking the court to ask the sheriff to come and arrest me and take me to jail, sort of rests on whether or not those original subpoenas are valid, and if what they are asking under them are valid or not. Even if they were, however, it’s predicated on the claim that we have been uncooperative, which I think is just completely false. We have been cooperative, we have provided them with a number of different documents, they have told us specifically to hold off, that we were not needed to come testify, and that they would get back in touch with us. Our last communication to them was that we understood that, and that we awaited the circumstances and the details under which we’d agree to speak with them, ” Mayor Rhodes-Conway says.
A hearing in Waukesha County Circuit Court is scheduled for about two weeks, on December 22. Mayor Genrich will be represented by Jeffrey Mandell, founder of the law group Law Forward.
Mayor Rhodes-Conway says she is not sure why she and Genrich have been singled out, as the only city to fully comply with his requests has been Kenosha. Rhodes-Conway says she believes it’s about intimidation.
“If you dig a little deeper, and ask why all the fuss about what happened in November 2020, I think it’s obvious that some people are disappointed with the results of that election at the federal level, and I think part of this is about trying to discourage people from voting in future elections.” Mayor Rhodes-Conway says.
Meanwhile, the situation has provided Mayor Rhodes-Conway a fundraising opportunity. In an email obtained by W-O-R-T sent last Thursday, Mayor Rhodes-Conway used the investigation to ask for donations.