Communication from an unofficial Gmail account brings about security concerns as GOP investigators continue to undermine election integrity.
The first official action taken by former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman in his investigation of the 2020 election did little to quiet concerns that the Republican-ordered inquiry is a partisan, disorganized, and unprofessional effort.
Gableman, whom Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) hired at taxpayers’ expense as special counsel, sent an email to dozens of Wisconsin county clerks on Monday ordering them to preserve certain records pertaining to the 2020 election.
Some clerks are viewing the email—sent from a Gmail account with the name “john delta,” but signed by Gableman—as both a potential security risk and an indication of the investigators’ apparent lack of election expertise. And, they say, the continued investigation is a clear sign that Wisconsin Republicans are willing to fall in line with former President Donald Trump’s lies about the election and attempts to undermine public confidence in the nation’s electoral system.
“[The email] leads me to believe this isn’t a real investigation, just a political stunt to try to appease [the] far-right base that is still clinging to this ‘Big Lie’ concept that was first brought forth by former President Trump and now just a whole other cast of characters,” Milwaukee County Clerk George Christenson told UpNorthNews in a Tuesday interview.
Christenson said he has not responded to the email, which was filtered into his spam folder.
According to a survey of all 72 county clerks conducted by the Associated Press, at least 11 clerks didn’t receive the email and at least seven had the email filtered to their spam folder.
Gableman was among three Wisconsin officials who last month traveled to South Dakota for a three-day event hosted by MyPillow CEO and far-right conspiracist Mike Lindell, and to Arizona to visit that state’s widely discredited election audit. Shortly after the election in November, Gableman attended a far-right rally at which he told the crowd “you elected leaders have allowed unelected bureaucrats at the Wisconsin Elections Commission to steal our vote.”
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also reported Tuesday that Gableman is consulting with another noted election conspiracy theorist.
“[Gableman] really has no idea what he’s talking about,” Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell said. “I think he should spend less time with [the] MyPillow guy and more time with election professionals from Wisconsin.”
In the “john delta” email, Gableman asked clerks to “preserve any and all records and evidence relating to the November 3, 2020 election in Wisconsin,” something they are already bound by law to preserve for 22 months following an election. The former Supreme Court justice also requested that county clerks forward the letter to all municipal clerks in their county, something McDonell said is unnecessary because all relevant information is held at a county level.
Dane County’s system administrator wrote in an email to McDonell that he should not reply to Gableman because the email didn’t come from an official wisconsin.gov email address.
“We know that there are active, hostile foreign nations trying to … hack our election,” McDonell said. “And this bozo is asking us to send router logs over to his Gmail?”
Christenson said that between the email address and the appearance of the letter—which he compared to “something someone made up on their home computer in their mom’s basement”—he is “very leery of the [lack of] professionalism and haphazard approach” Gableman has displayed.
On top of the security concerns and generally disorganized and unprofessional appearance of the investigation, Christenson said he’s concerned that continued efforts to sow distrust in elections and local officials could pose a legitimate danger.
In a recent CNN interview, Claire Woodall-Vogg, the City of Milwaukee’s election commissioner, said she has received over 150 threats due to misinformation spread about the election, including some death threats. One letter was even sent to her home.
“They’re gonna get somebody killed eventually,” Christenson said of those who continue to spread lies and sow doubts about the election. “They’re going to get somebody hurt, and it’s going to be blood on their hands.”