Additional subpoenas served in Green Bay election probe
By Heather Graves
GREEN BAY – Nearly a year later, the controversy surrounding the November 2020 election continues in Green Bay.
Former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, the attorney leading the more than $675,000 taxpayer-funded probe into the November 2020 election, made a surprise appearance at the Oct. 5 City Council meeting.
Though Gableman’s visit and the nearly 30-minute, back-and-forth discussion were unexpected, the topic was on the agenda for discussion.
Alderpersons met in closed session for more than an hour to discuss potential litigation stemming from a subpoena Green Bay City Clerk Celestine Jeffreys received late last week.
The subpoena sought documents related to grants from the national nonprofit Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), which the city received to help cover election costs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When alderpersons returned to open session and opened the floor for public comment, Gableman informed the council additional subpoenas were served, this time for Mayor Eric Genrich and the person most knowledgeable in his office, who Gableman did not name.
Genrich said he had not yet received anything.
“If it wasn’t received today, you can expect it shortly,” Gableman said.
Gabelman has issued similar subpoenas to officials in other Wisconsin cities, all of which received grants from CTCL.
He said he was in town for other meetings, but after learning the council would discuss the issue, he decided to attend.
Gableman was hired by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to oversee the speaker’s review of the results of the November 2020 election.
“This is not an adversary process,” Gableman said. “We are all citizens of the same country. We are all citizens of the same state. We all want open, transparent, honest and fair elections for which the administrators are accountable… This investigation will be guided by a surge for the truth and not by political priorities or timetables.”
Vos originally called for an Oct. 31 deadline, however, Gableman said he wasn’t sure he would be able to meet that because he is unsure how long his work would take.
He said the end product of his investigation will be a report detailing what should have happened, what actually happened; the differences between them and why it matters, how outside money was used, the role the Wisconsin Elections Commission played and any kind of recommendations for future adjustments or changes in the law to meet the challenges that were demonstrated in the November election.
“I would love nothing more than to do a rigorous report, all of the looking and studying and then be able to look at my fellow citizens and say ‘I looked into it to the best of my ability and here are all my supporting documentation, here is 2,000 pages or whatever it turns out to be, you can make up your own mind by looking through it, but I think everything went fine,’” Gableman said. “That would be a great report to write and I would be proud, very proud to write that report.”
When questioned by Council President Jesse Brunette regarding errors in his subpoenas, including the misspelling of Jeffreys name, Gableman said “it’s called the human condition, alder.”
“I’m not perfect,” he said. “You’re not perfect. Nobody in this room is perfect. We’ve only had one perfect man in this world, and look what we did to him.”
District 7 Alderperson Randy Scannell asked Gableman about the evidence of wrongdoing, and Gableman told him to Google it.
“I see you have a laptop there,” he said. “The internet, I suppose you have. If you look at issues concerning the Wisconsin election, a plethora of issues will come up, my friend. But, my job is to find out which have merit and which don’t…”
City officials have maintained they did nothing wrong when administering the election last November.
The council voted Tuesday to accept pro bono outside counsel from Law Forward and States United Democracy Center – nonprofits from Madison and Washington, D.C., respectively – and Stafford Rosenbaum – a Madison-based law firm – for possible litigation regarding the election.