Robin Vos Does Not Get Profile In Courage Award For Firing Michael Gableman

There are those times when what might be considered a strong and resolute position, instead winds up looking rather sluggishly anemic. Such is the result of Wisconsin Speaker Robin Vos firing Michael Gableman a mere 72 hours after the Racine County Republican squeaked out a primary election night win after Donald Trump urged voters to elect his opponent.

It was only after the votes were counted that Vos found his voice, even his backbone, along with a microphone into which he could utter his feelings about the former Supreme Court justice. “He’s an embarrassment to the state.” But only last week the former justice was a needed investigator for Republicans! Catching up with the sentiments held by the majority of state residents for the past year does not make Vos a prophet or even slightly principled, but simply underscored why many people think Republican politicians are playing to the most gullible within the GOP.

Vos’ comment, however, is about the length and breadth that leadership and a commitment to facts are allowed to be displayed within the current Republican Party. It is due to elected officials, such as Vos, who have continually played to the right-wing conspiracy theories from the base of the party, and in so doing have allowed for oxygen to be given to the nonsense. That has resulted in much harm being done to the home of such political giants as Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan.

Speaker Vos authorized and funded Gableman’s actions which resulted in a wild, unhinged, and legally impossible notion, such as decertifying the 2020 election. There was no evidence of widespread election chicanery to unearth, though that did not stop state tax dollars from being used by Gableman to foment lies for the less educated in the state. Nor did it stop Vos from continuing the spigot of money into Gabelman’s efforts which even included his attending a seminar in South Dakota hosted by luminaries such as Mike Lindell, the MyPillow facts denier.  

The time to cut ties with Gableman would have been after the first sit-down the Speaker had with someone who claimed in 2008 that Justice Ann Walsh Bradley rapped him on the head during a meeting. At the time many in the state snickered at the event, but in hindsight, it might be appropriate to ask exactly how much damage was inflicted!

The Michael Gableman we have watched over the past year is the same person who ran a sleazy and racist campaign in 2008 against the Supreme Court’s only African-American, Louis Butler. A major state newspaper wrote in 2012 that Gableman, as a justice, “opened the door to accusations of unethical behavior”. The years have changed, but the character of Gableman sadly has not. I wrote on Caffeinated Politics in 2011 that Michael Gableman was the least intelligent and probing mind on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.  After this past year, that may be the kindest thing one can say about the man.

Why Speaker Vos was not able, or willing, to provide leadership and honesty to the ones within his party spreading the Big Lie remains a troubling question that historians will need to address. After all, firing Gableman was only about 365 days too late.

Wisconsin Speaker Robin Vos Should Take Page From Thomas Jefferson Playbook

I am absolutely confident that the vast majority of reasonable Wisconsinites, from both sides of the political aisle, are tired of re-arguing the 2020 presidential election. The vast majority of citizens know the election was fair, the results solid, and the ongoing stirring of the partisan debate to be needless.

Oh, yes, and that same public is opposed to any use of taxpayer dollars to further stoke the partisan fires and undermine the faith that should be instilled in our electoral processes.

This past week it was reported that former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, now the special counsel in a Republican-orchestrated investigation of the 2020 election, signed a new contract with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. Following that news report, Vos issued a statement praising Gableman for doing a “good job”.

We should expect any Speaker to have pointed remarks and firm stands on the issues of the day. Actual issues, that is. Like methods of raising revenue for transportation needs or how to better formulate school aid payments. But needlessly stirring the red-meat ‘election is not over’ stew for the Republican base seems not only too blatantly partisan but also just sordid.

This brings me to Thomas Jefferson and how Vos might benefit from taking some advice from a Founding Father. (Please hear me out.)

After a close friend of Jefferson’s father dies, the parentless children are added to the Jefferson household. One of those children was a boy two years older than Jefferson, and historians have theorized that it was in those years of potential conflict and tension in the combined family that Jefferson found a most useful tool.

Comity over needless conflict is the best route to take.

Throughout his entire life, Jefferson was known not to engage in unneeded conflict. While not backing down in diplomatic missions to Europe or factional fights within the early years of the nation, he also was known not to desire personal confrontation. He did not pick a fight that was not needed to be fought.

We often think of the Founding Fathers providing guidance and views on the cornerstones of democracy. But if we heed the quieter patterns of their lives we will find lessons that can be learned, that when then added to their well-known consequential actions, makes governing stronger and more productive.

It is a lesson that I sincerely believe Vos could benefit from in his duties as Speaker.

I have no doubt, whatsoever, that Vos fully knows there is nothing to be ‘learned’ or ‘discovered’ or ‘made known’ about the 2020 Wisconsin election. Vos knows this investigation is all just for the demonstration that the Wisconsin GOP has not lost touch with the base of the party.

But in so doing the Speaker has constructed a needless fight in our state over something that is not even there to be fought. It would seem a better use of the assembly leader’s time to focus on how to upgrade worker skills so to meet the needs of employers in the state. Or assist in making sure more graduates from our high schools have a better grasp of civics and history.

It just perplexes me how the platform that Vos has been given is being used too often for the most marginal of purposes.

And so it goes.

Michael Gableman Must Do His Work In Light Of Day

Once again, there is a news story about Michael Gableman threatening jail time for a mayor from one of Wisconsin’s larger cities. The reason for such bluster is because, once again, no one is agreeing to sit for what can only be termed as a secret interview.

I recall warmly the affable and jowly former Senator Sam Ervin who knew full-well the power of public questioning of individuals involved in the crimes of Watergate. The televised hearings of the Senate Select Committee were a powerful tool that allowed the nation insight into the workings and shady dealing of Richard Nixon’s White House and campaign committee for his reelection.

The House Select Committee relating to the insurrection and rioting at our nation’s Capitol on January 6th also understands the power and need for public hearings. They plan to schedule some prime-time hearings this spring so the nation can better follow along with their work.

It comes as no surprise from a political, public relations, and sound governing perspective open and public hearings are logical.

It is highly troubling and unfathomable to explain, then, how a former justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court is attempting to hold closed, secret, and behind-the-door questioning of duly elected mayors from our state’s largest cities. Openness and transparency is not a new concept. Questions arise and suspicions deepen when people with power seek to limit light and forthrightness.

Why would Gableman go out of his way to create confusion and mystery? Why would he not want to showcase ‘election chicanery’ with a full array of reporters to record his findings?

Perhaps Gableman does not wish to be akin to Geraldo Rivera who opened an empty vault on national television. But therein lies the danger to our democracy in that grand allegations can be made undermining the faith of our election process, but then not the same volume and bandwidth being provided to prove such claims to be wrong.

It is incumbent upon those who thought it wise to set up such a ludicrous investigation probe and place Gableman in charge, to now step up and demand that any hearings or questioning be done in public. The fact is, of course, that no foundation exists for questions about the credibility of the election process, or the outcome by the voters. We know that any public questioning will only further underscore the abuse of power by Speaker Robin Vos and further shine a light on the laughable spectacle that is Gableman.

I must say, that over the past months when Gableman puts out his press releases or speaks I am continually reminded of John Alexander who plays the role of ‘Teddy Roosevelt’ in Arsenic And Old Lace. That delusional character was supposedly digging the Panama Canal in the basement.

Gableman makes as much sense in trying to prove election chicanery the size of the Panama Canal in the 2020 elections.

We see on both the international stage and the more local one the absolute necessity of being vigilant about democracy. The fabrication of why Russian forces ‘needed’ to invade a sovereign nation is repugnant. But so is the creation of a Big Lie about the presidential election that now ‘requires’ closed-door questioning by Gableman.

What is so disconcerting about this entire story is that, first and foremost, the investigation was predicated on a conspiracy theory without any factual foundation. To continue fostering lies about the 2020 election, and to use duly elected mayors as part of the orchestration of that conspiracy so to play to the base of the Republican Party is a complete travesty.

At some point, this bizarre episode by Gableman will end. But when the credits roll, unlike when they did with Alexander’s movie performance, we will not be left with a fond memory.

There was no Panama Canal on that Hollywood movie set, just as there was no election underhandedness that merited this investigation. The only lasting impact of this affair will be the undermining of faith citizens must have in our electoral system.

And so it goes.

Michael Gableman On Expensive Woozle Hunt, Taxpayers Pay For Conspiracy Trek

It did not make for national headlines but at the end of last year, another needless review of the November 2020 election results proved there was no nefarious activity taking place and no upset winner to be announced.

The Texas secretary of state’s office on December 31st released a batch of results from its review of the last presidential balloting finding no election chicanery to report. That in spite of repeated, unsubstantiated claims by GOP leaders casting doubts on the integrity of the electoral system. Under a time-wasting and costly review, the bottom line was only a few discrepancies were found between electronic and hand counts of ballots in a sample of voting precincts.

This same scenario has been playing out in states across the nation with the same results. Republicans bloviate about a ‘stolen election’ but the facts remain the same. There were no election hijinks, no invasion of immigrants voting, no grand strategy to toss votes or manipulate machines.

This brings us to the waste of taxpayer money and statewide embarrassment concerning Michael Gableman striking out to find the nonexistent Woozle of election fraud in Wisconsin. Such treks by others in search of what does not exist should be reason enough not to further waste public funds in our state.

But no……

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos hired Gableman in 2021 to scrutinize our state balloting after the Republican Party’s hero-worship of Donald Trump got out of hand. After all, Trump openly stated the GOP in the Badger State was not doing enough to further his empty allegations that Joe Biden did not win the election. So Vos, not wanting to be on the wrong side of a conspiracy theory, threw at least $686,000 to Gableman to hunt for what has not been found since 1926.

A Woozle.

Facts are not important to Wisconsin Republicans when furthering a conspiracy.

An Associated Press review of presidential results in six key battleground states, including Wisconsin, found fewer than 475 cases of potential fraud, a number that would have made no difference in the election’s outcome.

Election officials have referred 31 cases of potential fraud to Wisconsin prosecutors in 12 of the state’s 72 counties, representing about 0.15% of Biden’s margin of victory in the state, the AP review found. State auditors also found no evidence of widespread fraud in the election.

When it comes to Gableman I wrote most pointedly what I thought of him in September 2011. Given his now proven disdain of the election process and his willingness to further a lie that then strikes at the heart of our democracy, which then erodes the faith the citizenry must have in our political institutions the following rings even more true today.

I have commented on CP that Justice Michael Gableman must surely write his opinions in crayon.  Gableman is by far the least intelligent and probing mind on the Wisconsin Supreme Court. 

Simply put, I find Micheal Gableman a dolt.

Gableman’s tactics were slimy while seeking election to the court, and his theatrics have not changed since serving.

Michael Gableman should just get back to his coloring book.

It also is telling that Gableman is not seeking any data or recounts regarding Wisconsin Republicans who have objected to President Biden winning the election or called into question their election victory though the same ballot and election systems were employed.

Hmmm…..

The state residents know Michael Gableman is on a full-out Woozle hunt. On their dime. If only a modern-day Christopher Robin could explain logic and reason to the one too willing to undermine democracy.

And so it goes.

Wisconsin John Doe Court Ruling Shows Incestuous Side Of Politics And The Justices

It goes without saying the two most severe problems with our political system is the way redistricting has a made an out-right joke of political boundaries and the volumes of money that can be raised and spent in campaigns for public office. Many have correctly noted that if we could get a handle on these two issues much of the dysfunction within our system could be reduced.

That is why it was sad—though not shocking—to learn of the ruling from the Wisconsin State Supreme Court regarding the John Doe probe into Governor Scott Walker’s recall election practices.   The court ruled that the governor’s campaign and conservative groups had not violated campaign finance laws.

There was much evidence to support a continuation of the probe that sought to illuminate the money being raised and spent by outside interest groups in that election.   The fact these groups were working in concert with the Walker campaign should trouble anyone who can lift their head above the partisan muck.   This battle should be viewed from the perspective of what constitutes good government as opposed to the latest needs of any political party. Sadly, that is not the case when it comes to conservatives.

The ramifications of this ruling quite literally means that the wall of common-sense and good government that should separate a campaign from issue-advocacy groups has been reduced to a meaningless pile of nothingness that will no longer reduce one of the major problems within our political system.

The cozy relationship between those seeking an elected position and those bankrolling the campaigns was most obvious with this ruling.   The very groups that were being investigated in the probe were also responsible for large cash infusions into the conservative justice’s elections—the same justices who wrote today’s decision.

That is simply appalling and unacceptable. There is no way to defend such practices!

I know that conservatives are popping champagne bottles over the ruling. But if anyone is needing proof of the incestuous nature of what is happening to our government need look no further than public records to understand the problem.

One of the most public and troubling mouthpieces of political conservatism in our state is Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce. They along with others such as the Wisconsin Club for Growth have collectively raised and spent more than $8 million for such luminaires on the state court as Justice Michael Gableman.

The only thing that qualified Gableman for money from conservative groups was he was deemed likely to follow the political needs of their party. Time and again he certainly has done that. But in so doing he has not demonstrated any judicial competency. This ruling written today by Gableman is simply disrespectful to the law and is outright galling.

The conservative interest groups that were reportedly at the heart of the John Doe probe and who made donations to court candidates have certainly made sound investments. But the people of this state who deserve far more from their elected officers are the ones who have come out on the short end of the deal.

Earlier this year I read Marcia Coyle’s The Roberts Court where a large segment of the book dealt with money in elections.   She pointed out the legal rulings that require a justice to step aside from a case where one of the parties is a central component to a justice’s election to the bench.  Yet the conservative members of our state court who were bought by special interest groups showed no allegiance to ethics when it came to deciding the case about Walker’s campaign tactics.

What values and rules our government should operate under regarding John Doe probes and election campaigns took a severe beating today as if one of the Sopranos from the HBO series was throwing the punches.  There is nothing the vast majority of state residents can feel good about from this ruling.   The Wisconsin we knew in 2010 is being ripped apart and replaced with something I hardly recognize.

Justice Michael Gableman Taken To Woodshed By The New York Times

Had the editorial in The New York Times today been like the cartoons from my childhood there might have been a balloon space for text with the words “POW” and “BAM” over the image of a red-faced Justice Michael Gableman.  The ethically challenged jurist was taken to task today in the paper, and the message was clear.  Justice Gableman is an embarrassment to Wisconsin.  The sad fact remains that Gableman seems unable to see the lack of credibility he brings to the bench, or the shame he casts on this state.

This is not Justice Gableman’s first ethical breach. He won his seat in 2008 in a foul campaign against the Supreme Court’s only African-American, Louis Butler. Justice Gableman accusedMr. Butler of having worked as a public defender “to put criminals on the street,” including by finding “a loophole” to release a girl’s rapist.

In addition to playing to the fear and racism of some voters, the charge was false. The offender served his full sentence. In 2010, the Wisconsin court considered whether to sanction him under the state judicial code and split along the same ideological lines in a 3-to-3 vote without his. That meant he could not be disciplined for lying.

Now the justice claims it would be wrong for him to recuse himself because of “partisan demands.” The prosecutor’s motion was directed to the full court, not only Justice Gableman, “in the interest of justice” under “extraordinary circumstances.” To regain the public’s trust, the court must disqualify him if he does not face up to his impropriety and recuse himself.

Tough Editorial Against Justice Michael Gableman, Behavior Was Unacceptable

There is no way to spin or defend the actions that Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman took once elected.  As the Milwaukee  Journal pointed out in a strongly worded editorial the behavior by Gableman was “unacceptable”.

But whether the justice did anything illegal is not the only measure citizens should use to judge Gableman’s actions and whether he should have recused himself from cases involving clients represented by the law firm. Those cases include a challenge to Act 10 last spring, the politically charged law that rolled back collective bargaining for most public workers in Wisconsin.

By recusing himself from those cases, Gableman could have avoided any appearance of a conflict of interest and any perception that he received a gift from Michael Best, which was appearing before the court.

Instead, by accepting what his current lawyer calls a “contingency fee agreement” with the law firm, he opened the door to accusations of unethical behavior. That’s unacceptable.

In brief: Gableman was accused of an ethics violation in 2008 and was defended by McLeod. Under the arrangement with McLeod, the lawyer’s legal fees would be paid only if Gableman prevailed in his case and then persuaded the state to cover the costs. The Supreme Court deadlocked on the case, Gableman did not have the chance to seek his legal fees from the state and the law firm did not receive its fees.

While he was being represented by the firm and in the year and a half since, Gableman participated in nine cases involving Michael Best & Friedrich clients. He recused himself from a 10th case, in which the firm itself was being sued. In the nine, he ruled in favor of Michael Best five times. In two of the cases, he was in a 4-3 majority; in another, his vote led to a tie. In the four cases in which he voted against Michael Best clients, the votes weren’t close.

Will Wisconsin Collective Bargaining Be Heard Again Before Supreme Court?

Will Justice David Prosser try to strangle another member of the Court as tensions mount over collective bargaining?

Will Michael Gableman feel any sense of shame and remorse for his actions which leads to the story today out of Dane County?  Will Gableman, who I contend is more intellectually comfortable with crayons than legal briefs, even feel a tinge of guilt for being on the Supreme Court, and well above his capabilities as a person?

So many questions.

This is a most remarkable story, and one that has huge ramifications for the state and the political environment.  As with almost every other turn this year that has created all sorts of political chaos, this latest episode in Wisconsin again demonstrates the GOP is the root cause of the problems. 

If the Republicans would just accept a fair and ethical way to proceed with the conduct of their offices, be it on the Supreme Court or in the Governor’s Office, these matters would never have happened. 

I made it clear how I felt about the latest ethical problems with Gableman, and that there was reason for concern with his actions.

But due to greedy power plays, and over-reaches Wisconsin is once more in the midst of chaos over the collective bargaining bill.

The Dane County district attorney is considering asking the state Supreme Court to reopen his case over collective bargaining legislation without Justice Michael Gableman after learning that Gableman received two years of free legal service from an attorney involved in the case.

“We’re taking a hard look at it,” District Attorney Ismael Ozanne said Thursday. “I don’t think we have all the facts, but the ones we do have are concerning.”

Ozanne, a Democrat, said he would make a decision on what to do quickly, but declined to provide a more specific time frame.

The law firm Michael Best & Friedrich recently disclosed Gableman did not pay for legal work the firm did for him from July 2008 to July 2010 as Gableman fought an ethics charge. They had a deal that said the firm would get paid only if Gableman prevailed in the ethics case and was able to persuade the state to pay his attorney fees.

The Supreme Court split 3-3 last year on the ethics charge. That meant Gableman was not found to have violated the ethics code, but because he did not win he was prevented from asking for legal fees from the state.