MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A liberal government watchdog group on Tuesday filed its fourth open records lawsuit over the investigation of the 2020 election result in Wisconsin, targeting the lead investigator for his practice of deleting records he didn’t deem useful to the investigation.
The most recent lawsuit seeks to stop former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice Michael Gableman’s office from deleting any records covered by state law, not just those responsive to open requests.
A spokesperson for Gableman’s office declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump by just under 21,000 votes in Wisconsin, a victory that has withstood recounts, multiple state and federal lawsuits, an audit by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau and a report by the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty. An Associated Press review of Wisconsin and other battleground states also found far too little fraud to have tipped the election for Trump.
Previous lawsuits by American Oversight against Gableman, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and the state Assembly have resulted in judicial orders that Gableman’s Office of Special Counsel stop deleting records responsive to the group’s requests under state law.
Gableman testified last Thursday that he deleted records that were not responsive to open requests or useful to his work.
State law prohibits state actors from destroying public records without the written approval of the public records board.
In American Oversight’s first lawsuit, filed on Oct. 8, 2021, the court noted that Gableman’s practice of deleting records that were not responsive to the group’s request was an issue “for a separate day,” prompting the latest lawsuit, according to Tuesday’s complaint.