Wisconsin House speaker signs subpoenas in election audit

Wisconsin state House Speaker Robin Vos (R) signed off on the first subpoenas in an election audit in the state, the latest sign the controversial review of the 2020 race is escalating.

Vos put out a statement Friday morning saying that the subpoenas were being filed as part of the GOP-led investigation being helmed by former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, who had previously visited the site of the Arizona election audit. Gableman had already warned he could issue subpoenas to election officials who refuse to comply with his requests for information.

“Ensuring the 2020 election was conducted fairly and legally is critically important to maintaining faith in our election system,” Vos said. “Justice Gableman is dedicated to finding the truth and has determined subpoenas are necessary to move forward in his investigation. Assembly Republicans will continue to work with Justice Gableman to ensure confidence is fully restored in our elections.”

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The statement did not include any information as to who was being targeted, but Green Bay city clerk Celestine Jeffreys and Milwaukee Election Commission executive director Claire Woodall-Vogg both confirmed to The Hill they had received subpoenas signed by Vos. 

Jeffreys said the subpoena sent to her compels her to appear before Gableman or his associates in Brookfield in two weeks with documents, though she declined to share precisely what information she was being told to bring. 

The subpoena to Woodall-Vogg, which was provided to The Hill, also compels her to appear in Brookfield on Oct. 15. She must bring with her documents and copies of communications she had with city and state officials about the 2020 election and any information about any private money that was used to administer the November race. Milwaukee was one of several cities that received private grants to help run the election.

Republicans have been hankering for months to wage an audit in Wisconsin, which went narrowly for President BidenJoe BidenChina eyes military base on Africa's Atlantic coast: report Biden orders flags be flown at half-staff through Dec. 9 to honor Dole Biden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package MORE in November. Several Republicans have said such a review is necessary to ensure there were no irregularities in the vote, though multiple counts have confirmed Biden’s win. 

Green Bay in particular has been a top focus for the GOP after taking grant money from the Center for Tech and Civic Life, which is funded in part by Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark ZuckerbergHillicon Valley — Amazon draws COVID scrutiny Meta exec who co-founded Diem digital currency leaving the company Two lawyers who filed suit challenging election results ordered to pay nearly 7K MORE. A federal judge has already said there was no wrongdoing in accepting the money.

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Democrats have panned Republicans for their audit efforts, accusing them of pushing former President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package Trump calls Milley a 'f---ing idiot' over Afghanistan withdrawal First rally for far-right French candidate Zemmour prompts protests, violence MORE’s conspiracy theories that election irregularities cost him a victory in November.

“By issuing these subpoenas, it is now clear that Speaker Vos is using ever power available to him to placate far-right extremists,” state Rep. Mark Spreitzer, the ranking member of the Assembly elections committee, said in a statement.

State Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R), who is looking to spearhead a separate GOP audit, attempted to issue subpoenas to officials in Brown and Milwaukee Counties in August, but the documents were deemed invalid because they did not have a signature from Vos.