An ongoing, Republican-led investigation into the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin is now asking the courts to potentially jail a number of prominent Democrats throughout the state.
The investigation was launched in June 2021 by State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, who appointed former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman to lead the charge.
It was the nation's only special counsel investigation into the 2020 election, and as the New York Times notes, it's part of a larger push by Wisconsin Republicans to cast doubt on the results, with some seeking the reinstatement of former President Donald Trump in the White House.
On Friday, in a petition to a Waukesha County circuit court, Gableman implored the judge to "incarcerate" a number of Democratic mayors and civil servants "if they don’t sit for interviews with him behind closed doors," the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports.
According to the paper, "officials have said they are willing to talk to Gableman," but in front of a legislative committee and not out of view of the public.
The petition names the mayors of Madison, Racine and Green Bay as well as Wisconsin Elections Commission chair Ann Jacobs — all Democrats — and other officials who have been the subject of Gableman's subpoenas, WKOW notes.
But Gableman's taxpayer-funded legal campaign has come under heavy criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike. According to the Associated Press, Gableman has been sued multiple times over open records requests and subpoenas, and has been called out over "scant expense records," "confusing emails" and "making rudimentary errors in his filings" as well as meeting with conspiracy theorists as part of his probe.
He's also been dismissed as a "partisan hack" by elections experts and members of both parties for claiming in late 2020 that the election had been "stolen" from Trump, AP says.
President Joe Biden won Wisconsin by more than 20,000 votes, flipping a state that Trump had won in 2016.
Despite misinformation about election tampering — which has come to be known as "The Big Lie" — in Wisconsin and other battleground states, an "exhaustive fact check" has found little evidence of voter fraud. Per PBS, the Associated Press investigation turned up fewer than 475 potential instances out of more than 25 million votes cast.