Another Partisan Election Probe Takes Shape, This Time In Wisconsin

MADISON, WI - DECEMBER 04: Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington) addresses the Assembly during a contentious legislative session on December 4, 2018 in Madison, Wisconsin. Wisconsin Republicans are tryi... MADISON, WI - DECEMBER 04: Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington) addresses the Assembly during a contentious legislative session on December 4, 2018 in Madison, Wisconsin. Wisconsin Republicans are trying to pass a series of proposals that will weaken the authority of Gov.-elect Tony Evers and incoming Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul. (Photo by Andy Manis/Getty Images) MORE LESS

Three retired cops will be paid $3,200 a month for three months to investigate “potential irregularities and/or illegalities” in the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin, the Associated Press reported Thursday based on contracts it obtained. It’s just the latest partisan probe into GOP-fueled claims of fraud in the last election.

The probe was initiated by the speaker of the Wisconsin state assembly, Robin Vos (R), who told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last month that he was hiring “professional investigators” and an attorney to oversee them. Two days later, after he confirmed the name of one of the investigators — retired Milwaukee police detective Mike Sandvick — Vos acknowledged, “He’s been active in the Republican Party.”

That was putting it lightly: The AP noted then that Sandvick had previously worked on a GOP “election integrity” committee and had even served briefly as state director of “True the Vote,” operatives for which discussed stationing retired police and military at polling places in 2020. 

Sandvick’s 2008 report about the 2004 election advocated changes to Wisconsin election law in light of what it claimed was voter fraud, the AP noted. But it’s been dismissed by authorities, as well as a federal judge, who in 2013 wouldn’t allow the report to be admitted as evidence in a lawsuit over Wisconsin’s voter ID law. 

Wisconsin’s Democratic governor, Tony Evers, is expected to veto a series of restrictive new voting bills passed by the Republican-controlled legislature. But Vos can assemble an investigation without the governor’s say-so. 

Citing the contracts it obtained, the AP on Thursday revealed the name of another of the three investigators on Vos’ team: Steve Page, who Vos said had formerly worked in Eau Claire. A third investigator and an attorney who’ll oversee the trio have yet to be hired, Vos said.

The contracts, according to the AP, describe a broad investigation involving following up on various leads, including those submitted to a legislative committee or provided to legislators, allegations raised in the media, and other paths generated during the course of the investigation. 

Some Wisconsin Republicans, like their counterparts around the country, have eyed the ongoing “audit” of election results in Maricopa County, Arizona — led by a firm with no prior elections experience, the CEO of which aired wild conspiracy theories online — as a potential model.

Vos told the AP he didn’t expect the Wisconsin probe would resemble Arizona’s, but that hasn’t stopped members of the legislature from making the pilgrimage: Earlier this month, State Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R) and three other Wisconsin Republicans made the trip to Phoenix to check out the audit. 

A few days prior, Brandtjen had told One America News Network host Christina Bobb that the Wisconsin legislature “committed” to election integrity issues, including addressing “third-party money” in elections — a reference to various Wisconsin cities’ use of grants funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to facilitate election operations amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

But there was a twist: Brandtjen later revealed that Bobb’s organization, Voices and Votes, was funding the Wisconsin delegation’s trip to Arizona.

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