Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Fair Districts: the first trial phase … by gimleteye

The following note is from Fair Districts. This court case, detailing maneuvering by Republican political operatives and top elected officials to thwart the will of the people -- expressed through a constitutional amendment requiring fairly drawn Congressional districts -- is the most important in a generation. If you believe there is something rotten in the heart of Florida, you have to look no further than this court case to understand how it happens and who is responsible.

Now concluding in a Tallahassee courtroom, the battle to draw fair political districts is also consuming an incredible amount of money. The Republican legislature has dedicated at least $20 million in taxpayer moneys to defend its leaders, alleged to have illegally drawn district maps in collusion and against the will of the people and the law. Fair Districts needs to raise its money from contributors like you and me. Its lead organizer, Miami attorney Ellen Freiden, is a hero.

The stakes are that important. Here is the recent note from Ellen Freiden, Fair Districts:

"After twelve days of intense testimony, the redistricting trial will come to a close tomorrow. One last witness will testify at 9:30 am and closing arguments will follow. You might want to tune in or watch the proceedings at There you can also find archived video of the other trial days.
In these 12 days we have learned about:
·         Legislative staffers meeting with professional partisans to plan how the partisans could be involved in redistricting without anyone knowing.
·         A deputy chief of staff for Speaker Cannon sharing draft maps with a political operative giving him the opportunity to make changes and comments.
·         Various operatives being paid by the Republican Party for redistricting services.
·         Legislators and staff destroying documents.
·         Operatives destroying documents.
·         Political consultants secretly drawing maps and then having them submitted to the legislature by citizens who were allegedly “interested in the process”.
·         One “interested citizen” testifying that he did not draw a map and did not submit the map that was filed on the public website in his name. (See Article below).
·         Districts from the “citizen” (really operative) maps are identical to districts in the final map.
·         Experts testifying that the 2012 Florida Congressional map is the most biased map they have ever seen and that it would be statistically impossible for this bias to be a coincidence.
·         High ranking Republican Party officials in Washington and Tallahassee vetting and modifying maps before they are released!
After tomorrow, the parties will submit written papers to Judge Lewis and he will rule on whether the Congressional map is unconstitutional.  If he finds it unconstitutional, there will be further proceedings to decide on a new map. No matter what, the loser is expected to appeal.  It is too early to predict the timing of all this.
I want to extend my greatest thanks for your strong support during this trial and throughout our mutual effort to attain fairly drawn voting districts for Florida.
Obviously, it has taken a huge effort and lots of attorney time and expenses to put these facts all together. Will you contribute to help defray the cost?"


Anonymous said...

"The best Government money can buy" comes to mind.

Dave said...

Don't worry, the Miami Herald will cover 2 sentences on page 12.

I can't believe how little coverage this has received from local media. You can probably count on one hand the number of people in South Florida who even know this is going on.

Anonymous said...

Every other piece of political decision making hinges on the election being honest and the districts representing the demographics, yet it's considered boring and doesn't make the limelight.

Maybe a stripper / pole dancer called GerriManderer as a spokesperson would gain the public's attention? We need a video game about elections.

Anonymous said...

Those responsible for corrupting democracy should be thrown in a maximum security prison with general population. Let them talk their way out of THAT.

Cato II said...

I watched the trial. The House and Senate would like Judge Terry to believe that everything was a happy accident. The fact that GOP lobbyists and strategists were given unfettered access to plans, that a Congressional map was created using an FSU student's name which matched identically to a map created earlier by Republican operative Frank Terrafirma, and that meetings were held out of the sunshine were all happy accidents. Add on top of that is the fact that House and Senate leaders and members used private email addresses to conduct state businesses and wiped the accounts clean provide a conspiratorial element. Have the Plaintiffs shown that the map was created with the "intent" of favoring the GOP and disfavoring the Dems? Yes. But the GOP, the House, and Senate hope that they can bamboozle the Judge into thinking that the plan created by the Dems, which showed as much bias as the adopted plan, proves that an unbiased plan is impossible. If the Judge follows the wording in the State Constitution, then the Plaintiffs will have shown the requisite intent exists. Unfortunately, a new plan will likely not be ready for the 2014 election. The issue remains whether the State can cause a special election or must wait until 2016 to have a new map drawn.

Anonymous said...

If the court throws out the existing plan, who will draw the new plan?

Cato II said...

To the above Anon: The judge will likely give the Legislature a shot at drawing the districts again, but will probably appoint a Special Master to oversee the process. Given the likelihood that the case will be appealed if the State loses, the new districts may not be in place until the 2016 election.