By any fair measure, the Republicans' sham election "audit" in Arizona was a ridiculous fiasco. From the hunt for bamboo fibers to the hiring of something called Cyber Ninjas, from the examination of non-existent watermarks to the scrutiny of "kinematic artifacts," everything about the process was a debacle.
And yet, the Republicans' sham election "audit" in Wisconsin might actually be even worse.
The first sign of trouble came when GOP officials tapped former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman to help oversee the probe. As we've discussed, Gableman was a "Stop the Steal" conspiracy theorist who tried to undermine public confidence in the elections by peddling nonsense. Gableman also traveled not only to Arizona, to take a look at its utterly bonkers "audit," but also to South Dakota, where he attended a bizarre "symposium" headed by MyPillow chief executive Mike Lindell, an unhinged pro-Trump conspiracy theorist.
Or put another way, Gableman is the kind of guy Republican legislators would tap to get a predetermined result, not the kind of official chosen to oversee a credible process.
It wasn't long before the "investigation" became a cringe-worthy, taxpayer-financed mess. Gableman acknowledged, for example, that he doesn't have "any understanding of how elections work." He also issued strange subpoenas, demanded information that's already publicly available, sent error-filled requests to the wrong local officials, and invited officials to participate in private meetings at a location he shares with a liposuction clinic.
Making matters quite a bit worse, Gableman — whom the public is supposed to consider a fair and impartial observer, overseeing a serious inquiry — recently appeared on a conservative radio show to compare The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to Nazi propaganda, complete with multiple Joseph Goebbels references. Gableman also showed up at a city council meeting in Green Bay, where he suggested an election investigation is warranted based on some unidentified stuff he saw online.
Gableman also hired Andrew Kloster, a Republican lawyer from Donald Trump's administration. The Associated Press recently reported, "Kloster worked as an observer for the Wisconsin Republican Party on election night and was accused of yelling at election workers and police in Green Bay, a claim he disputes."
And yet, despite all of this, the man responsible for overseeing the GOP's wildly unnecessary election investigation released a new YouTube video over the weekend, making the case that he's chasing down serious leads.
"Based on what the Office of Special Counsel has investigated so far, there is compelling evidence that Wisconsin's elections laws were not properly followed by elected officials at both the state and local levels.... We are not demanding that [local officials] disprove allegations that the election may have been conducted unlawfully. Rather, we're asking them to be accountable to the people of Wisconsin, those people who have serious questions about the election, and how it was conducted, especially so that initial evidence shows violations of law or protocols, or both may have occurred."
And what "evidence" might that be? As Rachel noted on last night's show, The "Stop the Steal" conspiracy theorist leading the probe didn't say. Perhaps Gableman believes he has so much credibility that the public will accept his assertions at face value, confident that he'll share his "compelling" evidence at some point in the future.
It's just pitiful. Of course Gableman believes there's proof to justify his anti-election theories. He made up his mind before the process even started. It's why Republicans tapped him for this role in the first place. Did anyone seriously believe it was possible that Gableman would release a YouTube video saying, "On second thought, all that nonsense I peddled was wrong"?
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, stating what is plainly true, told reporters yesterday the election review "doesn't have any credibility." Kaul added at a press conference that Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos should "shut this fake investigation down," calling it "a waste of taxpayer money" that is "corrosive to our democracy."
The farcical investigation is a waste of taxpayer money; it is corrosive to our democracy; and it clearly lacks anything resembling credibility. But by all appearances, Republicans responsible for hatching this scheme simply don't care.