On Wednesday, writing for Slate, legal reporter Mark Joseph Stern detailed how Michael Gableman, the former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice tapped by state allies of former President Donald Trump to "audit" Wisconsin's 2020 election results, is in danger of losing his law license after a furious argument with a state judge last week.
"After undergoing a full-on meltdown in open court, [Gableman] is now at risk of losing his law license," wrote Stern. "His office faces fines of $2,000 a day. And the records surrounding his conspiracy-fueled 2020 election 'investigation' that he has fought so hard to conceal from the public will soon see the light of day."
"The ex-justice issued sweeping, error-ridden subpoenas demanding mountains of documents, then threatened to arrest his targets. His fishing expedition sought to intimidate civil servants into turning over so much information that he could craft a nonsensical narrative of fraud that might convince unsophisticated, aggrieved, and brainwashed observers," wrote Stern. "Wisconsin, however, has a robust public records law, and the liberal watchdog American Oversight sought records from the probe that would illustrate its deceptive nature. Gableman refused to turn over key documents, which led to extensive battles in Wisconsin state courts. In short, the courts ordered Gableman, [Assembly Speaker Robin] Vos, and their allies to turn over the relevant records, which they declined to do."
Gableman was ultimately held in contempt during Friday's hearing and referred for "appropriate disciplinary action by Wisconsin's Office of Lawyer Regulation," up to and including disbarment — a decision not helped, noted Stern, by a furious diatribe at Dane County Circuit Court Judge Frank Remington.
"At Friday's hearing, Gableman threw a 'tantrum,' as Remington described it," wrote Stern. "Gableman refused to answer questions, instead accusing the judge of acting 'as an advocate' for American Oversight. He then gestured toward the bailiff and 'taunted' the court by saying: 'I see you have a jail officer here. You want to put me in jail, Judge Remington? I'm not gonna be railroaded.' With a 'raised voice,' 'accusatory tone,' and 'twisted facial expression,' Gableman 'pointed and shook his finger at the judge' while accusing him of engaging in a 'fishing expedition.' (The ex-justice did not, it seems, see the irony in this accusation.)"
Gableman's investigation, which Stern says is likely moribund after this episode, is one of many Republican-backed efforts to hunt for evidence of Trump's imagined voter fraud. The most high-profile of these was a lengthy private "audit" of Maricopa County ballots by Florida security firm "Cyber Ninjas," which was similarly plagued with transparency and press access problems and pursued conspiracy theories, only to conclude that President Joe Biden won the county legitimately.
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