Trump allies call it a summit for “election integrity,” but it’s a Who’s Who of right-wing activists undermining state and local rules and officials as a way to reinforce the Big Lie about the voter fraud no one has found.
Activists working to disrupt democracy by overturning or changing election results and rules will gather in Michigan this weekend, where they will hear from former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, whose taxpayer-funded work has yet to uncover any voter fraud in Wisconsin.
The agenda for the summit, organized by allies of former President Donald Trump, indicates Gableman is giving a keynote address. Gableman has previously called for Wisconsin legislators to “decertify” the 2020 election results—something that is not allowable under law and has no reasons to be considered.
Lavora Barnes, chairwoman of the Michigan Democratic Party, told the Detroit News the conference’s lineup read “like a Who’s Who of democracy destroyers.”
“This isn’t surprising given the rampant fraud that runs deep in the RNC [Republican National Committee] and the Michigan Republican Party,” Barnes said. “This conference agenda makes clear that the Republicans are hell bent on keeping alive the ‘Big Lie’ through the 2022 elections.”
This week, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who hired Gableman, said his work—which a judge has described as not living up to the definition of an investigation—is on pause and he’s being paid half of his previous monthly salary, so that Gableman can focus on five different lawsuits about what he’s done or attempting to do.
Gableman’s review was originally supposed to end in October, but Vos has granted extensions. Last month, under pressure from Trump, Vos allowed the contract to go forward indefinitely.
Two lawsuits deal with Gableman’s power to subpoena those involved with running elections in Wisconsin. Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul, who represents the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission, sued Gableman, arguing that any interviews with state officials must be conducted in public, not behind closed doors as Gableman wants.
Ann Jacobs, the Democratic chairwoman of the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission, said the lawsuits could be resolved if Gableman agreed to conduct the interviews in public. She said it was “unfortunate that taxpayers are going to continue to pay a very high salary” to Gableman to fight lawsuits that could be easily ended.
Gableman filed a separate lawsuit seeking to jail the mayors of Madison and Green Bay along with any others who he says don’t comply with his subpoenas. Those officials have said they have complied. A judge has scheduled a July 11 hearing in that case.
Vos said he hoped those cases would wrap up quickly, but the appeals could last well into 2023.
Gableman has turned in two interim reports that did not include any evidence showing there was widespread fraud in the 2020 election won by President Joe Biden.
Gableman and Vos have suffered a series of defeats in court in open records lawsuits filed by the liberal watchdog group American Oversight. Two different judges in the past month have ordered that Gableman not delete records related to the investigation and that Vos ensure his investigator complies. Vos has also been found in contempt for not producing records and there is a June 10 hearing to determine whether Gableman should be found in contempt.
—The Associated Press contributed to this story.