The Wisconsin 2020 election special office was held in contempt of court over an issue investigating possible fraud during the last presidential election.
Former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman is at the head of the investigation helms and declined to answer questions about his approach to public records requests causing Dane County Circuit Court Judge Frank Remington to feel his scorn during a fiery court appearance Friday.
“You don’t have a right to act as an advocate for one party over the other. I want personal counsel. If you are putting jail on the table, I want a personal attorney to represent me,” a defiant Gableman proclaimed, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“I will not answer any more questions. You want to put me in jail, Judge Remington. … I’m not going to be railroaded.”
Gableman had been summoned by Remington to testify before him as part of his investigation into a case made by the watchdog group American Oversight, which is demanding that he comply with public records requests. According to the publication, Gableman refused to answer questions beyond his work and identity, asserting his Fifth Amendment rights.
“This judge has abandoned his role as a neutral magistrate and is acting as an advocate,” he continued, according to WPR. “All of a sudden, I somehow think that my personal rights are at stake here.”
The former state Supreme Court justice is embroiled in a contentious court dispute with American Oversight, which is seeking data related to his office’s 2020 election investigation.
During a previous conversation with American Oversight, Gableman’s office said it was discarding unnecessary documents, which American Oversight claimed was a flagrant violation of state open records rules, prompting the watchdog to launch a complaint. He had previously been told not to destroy any documents, including emails and texts.
“Mr. Gableman’s outrageous and disrespectful conduct in court today removed any last shred of credibility from this partisan charade. Far from increasing transparency and instilling greater confidence in the 2020 elections, by repeatedly flouting Wisconsin transparency laws, Mr. Gableman and [General Assembly] Speaker [Robin] Vos have shamed their offices and undermined their own investigation,” Melanie Sloan, senior adviser to American Oversight, said in a statement after the ruling.