MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday blasted a Republican-ordered investigation into the 2020 presidential election as a "$700,000 boondoggle" and said election clerks should be "lawyered up."
After an election audit in Arizona confirmed President Joe Biden's win in the state, Republicans have focused their attention on Wisconsin, where Biden also won, and other states where they're pursuing reviews of last year's election.
The investigation in Wisconsin is being led by retired conservative state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman. He said in a video last week that the burden will be on local election clerks to prove the election was run fairly. He also threatened to subpoena anyone who doesn't comply.
"You don't have to prove a negative in court, you don't have to prove a negative in any other place except Justice Gableman's court here," Evers said.
The Democratic governor, who is up for reelection next year, called Gableman's comments "a bit outrageous."
"If I was a clerk I'd be lawyered up and make sure that you're doing the right thing," Evers said during a news conference at the World Dairy Expo when asked if they should comply with Gableman's probe. "I hate to see an inquisition like this, especially when you're being told you have to prove it was a good election. Everybody knows it was a good election. Everybody knows there was no fraud."
Gableman did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Biden's win over former President Donald Trump by more than 20,000 votes has been upheld by numerous state and federal courts. Only four voters out of about 3 million people who cast ballots have been charged with election fraud to date.
Evers said clerks have better things to do than deal with Gableman's investigation, which is costing taxpayers $680,000.
"It's a $700,000 boondoggle to prove something that's already been proven probably 100 times," Evers said.
Gableman's first email to election clerks confused many, as it came from a Gmail address under the name "John Delta" and contained an attachment. Many counties flagged it as a potential scam and it landed in the junk email folder for others.
Gableman told a group of Trump supporters in November that he thought the election was stolen. A former Trump official appears to be working on the investigation. Gableman has not said who he has hired or submitted any invoices seeking payment yet.
His investigation has already drawn bipartisan criticism. Republican state Sen. Kathy Bernier, chair of the Senate elections committee, said earlier this month, "There is not a reason to spread misinformation about this past election when we have all the evidence that shows otherwise."
(© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
for more features.