The Associated Press obtained the contract entered into by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and former Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, who is leading the probe, under the state open records law.
It shows that $325,000 is set aside for a data analysis contractor, indicating that the investigation will likely focus on an examination of ballots and voting machines.
It also sets aside $25,000 each for the hiring of five investigators. Gableman is to be paid $55,000 over the life of the contract, which runs from Aug. 1 through the end of the year.
There is also $15,000 earmarked for communications, $50,000 for attorney fees, $25,000 for travel and $50,000 for court reporting.
The contract calls for using taxpayer money on the probe, not campaign donations or other funds as was done in Arizona’s recent audit of Maricopa County.
Republicans are moving ahead with the investigation in the battleground state President Joe Biden allegedly won by fewer than 21,000 votes over former President Donald Trump.
Trump met with Vos last week and encouraged the probe. It also has the backing of other Republicans in the state, including U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, who is up for reelection next year.
But Johnson, one of the most outspoken supporters in the Senate of Trump’s America First agenda, was surprisingly reluctant to criticize the electoral process.
Despite clear evidence from Milwaukee of a bizarre late-night bump for Biden after the polls had presumably closed on Nov. 3, Johnson said Sunday that there was “nothing obviously skewed about the results in Wisconsin” while also supporting the investigation.
He made his comments to a liberal activist from the web-based program “The Undercurrent” and a member of Democracy Partners, a group aligned with Democrats.
EXCLUSIVE: Sen Ron Johnson blames Trump for losing Wisconsin in 2020 and tells me “there’s nothing obviously skewed about the results.” pic.twitter.com/OeRkVkkVAN
— Lauren Windsor (@lawindsor) August 31, 2021
Johnson said that he did not support focusing on voting machines, as some conservatives have called for. Gableman has said that reviewing voting machines will be one of his priorities for the investigation.
Republicans have questioned numerous aspects of the 2020 election, but to date, only two people out of 3.3 million votes cast in Wisconsin have been charged with election fraud.
The Gableman investigation is in addition to one underway by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau. That review was also ordered by Republicans. Both are expected to be done by the fall.
But the effort was sure to meet similar resistance as other GOP-led attempts to shine light on the process have done.
Despite the unprecedented nature of the pandemic-era election, which saw Democrat officials ignoring state laws and relaxing many of the common-sense rules for receiving ballots, many on the Left have been adamant that it was the “most secure and accurate election in our history” and bore no deeper examination than their assurances.
Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell, the chief election official in the state’s second largest county, said he wasn’t sure what the investigation would entail or exactly what “data analysis” meant.
The county—which encompasses the far-left college city of Madison—already underwent a recount, as did Milwaukee, although neither produced evidence to support concerns over altered tallies.
Instead, the current audits will focus on scrutinizing whether the votes themselves were legitimate votes.
But McDonell vowed to fight the audit effort, echoing the claims of Arizona leftists that an examination of the equipment could introduce new vulnerabilities into the process.
“The machines, they need to be protected. They are critical infrastructure as defined by homeland security,” McDonell said.
“There’s no way we’re going to compromise the security of our elections and void the warranties on our machines,” he continued. “It’s not going to happen unless a court orders it.”
Adapted from reporting by the Associated Press