Republican-hired inquisitor attacks Meagan Wolfe on right-wing radio show, and continues to spread conspiracy theories about the 2020 election.
Another day, another talk show rant from Republican election inquisitor Michael Gableman. The former state Supreme Court justice lashed out on Tuesday at Wisconsin’s top elections official, Meagan Wolfe—even going so far as to attack her style of dress and jewelry.
“Black dress, white pearls—I’ve seen the act. I’ve seen the show,” Gableman said as he and a WTAQ Radio host promoted a conspiracy theory about nursing home workers helping residents vote safely during a pandemic based on guidance provided by the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC), which Wolfe serves as administrator.
When the host said he recently saw Wolfe with a locket instead of pearls, Gableman interjected, “Oh, Hillary Clinton.”
Gableman—who did not vote in last week’s elections because he was visiting former President Donald Trump at his Florida estate—said the voter assistance provided by WEC guidance in 2020 was a scheme to “wring a few ballots” out of nursing home residents. He referred to it as “elder abuse” and said it was a reason why Wolfe “ought not to be the administrator of our Wisconsin Elections Commission.”
A “few ballots” would not have changed statewide election results, and Gableman did not explain why a top state official would break the law to change “a few ballots.”
On Wednesday morning, the Wisconsin Supreme Court heard arguments on a case that could determine if nursing home residents, disabled voters, and others are able to have assistance in casting their ballots.
In a written response about Gableman’s insults, Wolfe said, “Comments directed at my appearance are a far cry from being serious and are beneath anybody who purports to be undertaking a review of subject matter as important as election integrity.”
Elections Commission member Ann Jacobs noted Gableman only questioned the fashion style of a woman, not any of the men he criticized, and said he owes Wolfe an apology.
“I think it is disgusting that Mr. Gableman has decided to reduce himself to critiquing somebody’s clothing instead of appreciating the hard work and effort that Meagan Wolfe does as the administrator of the Wisconsin Elections Commission,” Jacobs posted on Twitter, accompanying a story first reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Misinformation About Voter Rolls
Along with promoting a new conspiracy theory from a right-wing website known for disinformation, Gableman again recited false information about the difference between the number of registered voters in Wisconsin (the voter rolls) and the number of voters in a database.
“She’s a miracle worker. The good lord can take you off the earth,” Gableman said, “but Meagan Wolfe and her cohorts won’t take you off the voter list.”
As noted in a recent detailed response by WEC, the voter database includes voters past and present, but deactivated voters in the database do not appear on the rolls used in elections themselves. WEC has no authority to delete voter records.
Voter Assistance and Drop Boxes Debated by Justices
The court case involving voter assistance will also determine if all Wisconsin voters can legally use drop boxes once again. The arguments heard by justices Wednesday originated in a lawsuit filed by the right-wing legal group Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL). A Waukesha County judge in January sided with WILL and determined that drop boxes were not legal. As a result, they were not used in the recent local nonpartisan elections.
Justice Brian Hagedorn, a conservative who sometimes sides with the court’s liberal minority, zeroed in on what it means to deliver a ballot and whether wording in the law means someone other than the voter can return it.
“If I’m mailing an absentee ballot and my wife takes the three steps to put it in the mailbox, have I violated the law?” Hagedorn asked. “Do we need to decide that question?”
Attorney and WILL president Rick Esenberg said that question did need to be addressed. In response to questions, Esenberg said he did not think it would be legal for someone to hand their ballot to a family member within feet of a mailbox and have that person drop it in.
“I’m sure you can appreciate how absurd that result is,” liberal Justice Jill Karofsky said.
Gableman, whose work is continuing long past its original due date and budget set by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, is embroiled in two lawsuits of his own and used his time on the radio to criticize both judges and blame them for the delays in deciding both cases—one that challenges the legality of the approximately 80 subpoenas he has issued, the other highlighting the ways he and Vos have withheld records from the public.
While frequently referred to as an “investigation,” Gableman’s sloppy, belligerent, and blatantly partisan work was criticized in the open records lawsuit last month by a Dane County judge who, after examining documents obtained from Gableman, said the average person “will come to the conclusion that this has been much to-do about nothing, that these documents do not support the argument that there has been an investigation.”
Gableman—who has incorrectly advocated for the legality of Wisconsin politicians decertifying the 2020 presidential election results—has made multiple appearances at local Republican Party events and has made an endorsement in the GOP primary for state attorney general. In promoting Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney over former state Rep. Adam Jarchow, Gableman even upstaged Toney by disclosing on the radio what the candidate was going to say at a news conference that hadn’t yet started. Toney would later call on Gov. Tony Evers to dismiss members of the Elections Commission, even the ones he did not appoint—something governors do not have the authority to do.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.