MADISON, Wis. (AP) — About 100 people who believe ongoing Republican-ordered investigations into the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin aren't broad enough pressured the state's GOP legislative leadership on Friday to approve a more expansive review.
President Joe Biden defeated former President Donald Trump by just over 20,000 votes in Wisconsin. The results survived recounts in Milwaukee and Dane counties and numerous court challenges, but some Republicans are pushing for broader reviews of how the election was run. Some have said they thought the election was stolen, despite no evidence of widespread fraud, while others say they want to find weaknesses to address with future legal changes.
The group backing a “full forensic physical and cyber audit" includes the Republican chair of the Assembly elections committee, Rep. Janel Brandtjen, and Republican Rep. Tim Ramthun. They both spoke at an event outside the state Capitol also attended by former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke and Jefferson E. Davis, spokesman for a committee pushing for the broader audit.
Brandtjen attempted to get access to voting machines, ballots and other election materials in Milwaukee and Brown counties. But subpoenas she issued were rejected last week by both counties for not having the signatures of Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.
Davis led the group into the Capitol to drop off copies of the subpoenas at Vos's office and the offices of Senate GOP President Chris Kapenga and Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu. None of the lawmakers were present.
“I'm here because we have to go through the paper ballots and we have to be able to go through the machines,” Brandtjen said outside the Capitol. Brandtjen, Ramthun and Clarke did not join the group who went to the lawmakers' offices.
Those seeking the broader audit said they didn't trust election reviews by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau or by former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman. Davis said that Gableman, Vos and State Auditor Joe Chrisman were invited to attend the event at the Capitol, but none were there.
LeMahieu’s spokesman, Adam Gibbs, declined to comment. Representatives for Vos and Kapenga did not immediately respond to messages.
Ramthun and Gableman both attended a symposium last month in South Dakota by MyPillow founder Mike Lindell where election conspiracy theories were discussed. Ramthun said he spoke with Gableman there briefly about his investigation, but that he hasn't talked to him since. Clarke said he also spoke about two months ago with Gableman on the phone for about 15 minutes about his probe. Clarke said Gableman told him he did not know what a “full cyber forensic audit” was.
Clarke and others said there was not enough transparency in Gableman's investigation. In order for the results to be trusted, Clarke said Gableman must record by audio and video every action he takes and provide detailed logs of his activity.
Gableman did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
“I'm not into conspiracies," Ramthun said. “I'm not into conjecture. I'm only into the truth."