A Wisconsin judge ripped into the partisan “investigation” of Wisconsin’s 2020 election Thursday, saying not only had it not uncovered any evidence of voter fraud, but also that the process had “punished” the people of Wisconsin.
In her last hearing as a judge before retiring, Dane County Circuit Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn awarded $98,000 in attorneys fees to the liberal watchdog group American Oversight, which has filed several lawsuits against the election investigators for alleged public records law violations.
Bailey-Rihn said she was not awarding any further punitive damages — which like the lawyers fees would be paid by taxpayers — because “I think the people of the state of Wisconsin have been punished enough for this case.” The Associated Press reported the judge’s remarks.
“I don’t think it does anyone any good to have punitive damages placed on the innocent people of this state,” the judge added. The probe has already crossed the seven-figure mark.
The hearing Thursday concerned one of multiple public records lawsuits — three of which are still pending — against the investigators. Michael Gableman, the former state Supreme Court justice leading the investigation, was ordered to stop deleting investigatory records by another judge earlier this year — Dane County Judge Frank Remington, who Gableman later berated in a courtroom meltdown.
At various points, both Gableman and Robin Vos, the Republican Wisconsin Assembly speaker, have been found to be in contempt for failing to comply with orders regarding public records. Bailey-Rihn said Thursday that the case had shown among other things that Vos and Gableman believed they had no obligation to comply with state records laws.
“That’s one thing the citizens of this state have learned to their detriment,” the judge said.
Gableman, for his part, has floated the idea of “decertifying” the election based in part on assertions that later turned out to be false. He has repeatedly fought for more time for his investigation, and a new contract signed in May has no set end date.
Gableman admitted in October last year, “most people, myself included, do not have a comprehensive understanding or even any understanding of how elections work.”
Bailey-Rihn appeared to reference that comment on Thursday.
At least during the first part of the the investigation, she said, taxpayers were paying $11,000 per month for Gableman “to sit in the New Berlin library to learn about election law because he knows nothing about election law.”
Bailey-Rihn also cited Gableman’s trips to the conspiracy theory-oriented “Cyber Symposium” conference last year — “to meet with the My Pillow person” Mike Lindell, she said — as well as his travel to the sham “audit” of Maricopa County, Arizona’s 2020 election results, where she said he went “to learn about the Chinese possibly tampering with election machines, which in his own words was not borne out.”