Wisconsin Circuit Court Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn ordered on Wednesday that state Assembly Speaker Robin Vos be held in contempt of court for not producing documents, including text messages and emails, allegedly related to an investigation into the 2020 election.
The contempt order came in an open records case brought by liberal watchdog organization American Oversight, which was founded in 2017 for the purpose of harassing President Donald Trump. Judge Bailey-Rihn had said last week that her patience was “wearing thin.”
In her order, Bailey-Rihn found that Vos and the state Assembly had violated previous orders of the court. The order indicated that the contempt finding came after proper notice to Vos and an open court hearing.
The order compels Vos and the Assembly to hand over the ordered records within 14 days. They will be fined $1,000 each day after that time for each day they remain in contempt. The order also ordered that they will pay a reasonable amount of attorneys’ fees to American Oversight because of their contempt. The amount of fees to be ordered was reserved for a future hearing.
Attorney Ronald Stadler represents Vos and told the judge last week that work was still being done to retrieve emails that had been deleted from Vos’ account. Stadler insisted that he would need two weeks to review any material that can be recovered from the account.
Stadler also told the court that he had retained a tech expert who is expected to testify that deleted text messages cannot be recovered.
The American Oversight case is one of three ongoing matters seeking disclosure of official records from Vos and former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman. Vos hired Gableman as an investigator in a probe into the 2020 presidential election held in Wisconsin.
Gableman has been working on behalf of Vos since last June and has had his contract extended through this month. Justice Gableman released a report of his findings last week. As part of the report, he detailed a series of illegal actions that occurred during the conduct of the 2020 election. He also called for decertification of the results of the election previously reported by the state.
As Democrats find themselves unable to defend the unlawful acts that took place in 2020, they are working desperately to move the focus away from the audit of the election and onto the integrity of Justice Gableman and Speaker Vos.