The investigator hired by Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos to probe the 2020 election in Wisconsin was ordered by a federal judge on Monday to pay $163,000 in fees to attorneys for the watchdog group American Oversight.
Dane County Circuit Judge Frank Remington ordered that Wisconsin’s Office of Special Counsel, which is headed by former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, must foot the bill in lawyers’ fees as well as other costs to the watchdog group, according to Madison.com.
American Oversight has filed a string of lawsuits over the past year against Vos, Gableman, and the state assembly, seeking records tied to the Office of Special Counsel’s review of the presidential election in 2020.
The watchdog describes itself as a nonpartisan, nonprofit that “uses public records requests backed by litigation to fight corruption, drive accountability, and defend democracy” but it appears to largely target former President Donald Trump and other Republicans.
According to multiple reports, the latest fees will be paid by Wisconsin taxpayers and will add to the cost of the investigation, which is now over $1 million.
“The office responsible for Wisconsin’s partisan election review has deleted records that don’t suit the false election-fraud narrative. Access to these records is essential for accountability. We’re fighting to stop any more records from being destroyed,” the watchdog group wrote on Twitter on Aug. 1.
The Epoch Times has contacted Wisconsin’s Office of Special Counsel for comment.
Remington’s ruling came just months after he found that Gableman and Vos violated state public records laws by denying or delaying access to documents that had been requested by the watchdog group.
The ruling also comes after a separate one by Dane County Circuit Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn last week in a different lawsuit bought by the watchdog.
Bailey-Rihn found Assembly Speaker Robin Vos had violated the state’s transparency laws by failing to properly respond to open records requests related to the election review and ordered that the Assembly pay nearly $100,000 to cover attorney fees.
Gableman’s investigation has faced criticism from Democrats and local media outlets. Bailey-Rihn said last week that “we have absolutely found out from this case, at least in my case, that there was absolutely no evidence of election fraud.”
However, a 136-page interim report released by Gableman in March states that he has uncovered numerous instances of lawbreaking in Wisconsin during the election.
Gableman was commissioned last year by Vos, a Republican, to probe the election results and allegations of fraud but there have been multiple open records cases between Vos and Gableman and American Oversight related to the investigation since.
While American Oversight has sought records about the election inquiry, the former state Supreme Court justice has said he routinely deleted records that he thought were not relevant to the inquiry. A lawsuit on that issue is pending.
According to the U.S. National Archives, Joe Biden received 20,682 more votes than Trump in Wisconsin, or about 0.6 percentage points, while a total of 3.2 million votes were cast in the state in the 2020 election.
The inquiry into the 2020 election was paused by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos in May amid a string of legal battles.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.