Judge presses attorney for Vos in records lawsuit

In an open up data scenario trying to get sanctions towards Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, a attorney for the speaker explained he experienced minor involvement with a sweeping investigation Vos ordered of the 2020 election.

The testimony from Vos’ chief lawful counsel Steve Fawcett prompted Dane County Circuit Court Choose Valerie Bailey-Rihn to interject on many situations, at one issue inquiring Fawcett if he recognized that when it arrives to records of the investigation, “the buck stops” with Vos.

Monday’s listening to stemmed from 1 of the three open records lawsuits filed by the liberal watchdog group American Oversight. The group sued Vos and former state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, whom Vos tapped to guide a broad investigation of the 2020 election, arguing they failed to sufficiently respond to documents requests related to the probe. American Oversight is asking Bailey-Rihn to drive Vos’ place of work to transform above a lot more data of the investigation, arguing that evidence shows they did not adequately react the initially time.

Fawcett was outlined as the contact particular person for Vos’ place of work on Gableman’s agreement, but he testified that he experienced not educated Gableman on how to respond to documents requests, which includes what documents to keep. In the course of nearly a few several hours of testimony, he usually told American Oversight attorney Christa Westerberg that he did not individually oversee Gableman’s response to the group’s information ask for.

“Did you take a look at the exclusive counsel’s workplace to support with the research?” Westerberg asked.

“I did not,” Fawcett replied.

“Have you at any time been to individuals offices?” she responded.

“I have not,” mentioned Fawcett.

“Do you know where by they are?” Westerberg continued.

“I do not,” Fawcett reported.

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“Do you know if you will find anyone else involved with the Wisconsin Assembly who visited the Workplace of Distinctive Counsel’s workplaces to lookup for individuals records?” Westerberg requested.

“I have no strategy,” Fawcett mentioned.

Vos hired Gableman last yr to oversee the taxpayer-funded investigation at an believed price of $676,000.

Gableman, who has been operating out of an workplace in Brookfield, has argued that his position is akin to a prosecutor, and that revealing all information connected to his circumstance could jeopardize his investigation. So considerably, the judges listening to these open up information disputes have viewed the cases in a different way.

Decide Bailey-Rihn ordered Vos to transform over data similar to the scenario final yr. On Monday, she informed Fawcett that it was up to Vos to make certain individuals data were complete and correct considering that he experienced hired Gableman as an impartial contractor. She observed that the first records made by Gableman did not incorporate interaction with Vos’ workplace.

“Did not it strike you odd that when you looked at these records from Mr. Gableman that none of your communications with them for the initial various months ended up in these data?” Bailey-Rihn asked Fawcett.

“I’m not a section of that business office. I really don’t genuinely have any oversight. I really don’t know how they carry out their small business,” Fawcett replied.

“But you comprehend that ultimately the buck stops with Mr. Vos and his business office to create suitable paperwork, suitable?” Bailey-Rihn responded.

Bailey-Rihn questioned for additional briefing from lawyers to be finished by March 16. She mentioned she would very likely situation a written buy immediately after which is done.

In an additional situation that could have developments this week, Judge Frank Remington claimed Friday that he was “unimpressed” by Gableman’s argument that he is conducting a regulation enforcement operation or that the open records rules don’t utilize to his operate. Remington established a listening to date for Thursday and ordered Gableman to change around files to him for a non-public critique by Jan. 31 in advance of oral arguments on March 8.