GOP did not Redistrict – the GOP Redistricked
Ever since GOP redistricting maps were made public back in July of 2011, a group of Democrats and the immigrant rights group, Voces de la Frontera, have been fighting the GOP legislature. The road has been long and winding with twists and turns revealing the most secretive, non-transparent, partisan tactics including the forced signing of confidentiality agreements on the parts of their own colleges. There’s been no precedent, outside a totalitarian state, for the covert methods and practices by which new vote district maps were drawn for Wisconsin. The process did not even pretend to follow any established traditional process for drawing the boundaries. The GOP did not even do the work in the legislative offices, but they hired it out to the law firm across the street at the offices of Micheal Best where GOP legislative leaders committed $400,000 in taxpayer money to pay Best and the Troupis Law Office for their work on the maps. Legislators did not draw the maps, lawyers drew them.
That was all over a year and half ago. What followed has been eighteen months of legal tangle as Democrats and Voces de la Frontera worked to unravel the trail of secret dealings that lead to the creation of the maps used to determine which party and candidate voters are allowed to be represented by and cast ballots for.
After the court had ruled on the maps, additional documents that should have been turned over were discovered…oh my! Lawyers for the GOP legislature were repeatedly ordered to turn over documents, but they resisted, fumbled, and faltered even as they were fined $17,500 for filing what the federal judges said were frivolous motions to try to block their release. How many records were withheld? Why were records tucked away?
The legislators’ law firm, Michael Best & Friedrich put on the appearance of concern over this unfortunate oversight. Why they were so concerned as to launch an internal investigation and hired the high-powered Chicago law firm Schiff Hardin to help them with the matter. Of course, this would take months and bide time for the whole matter to sink out of sight and out of mind in the news cycle.
The GOP should really go into the optical illusion business. Who are they trying to hoodwink? You cannot fool all of the people all of the time. Just yesterday, Rush Limbaugh made a point that crystallizes the whole GOP paradigm, the whole mindset that permeates the vote redistricting debacle in Wisconsin. The subject happened to be immigration reform and he asked, “Why would Democrats want to give up voters?” The reference was to how Democrats seemed willing to lose their majority of Hispanic voters by agreeing with the new GOP position of favoring comprehensive reform. Do you see it? It’s not about the people, or moving the country forward, it is all about strategy and positioning. This is the way the GOP thinks. It is all about the push with little regard for direction – just like the redistricting maps for Wisconsin. It is all a game to be played with obstruction, secrecy, and hiding records.
But it did not go away…Summons FINALLY issued
For the last five months, the plaintiffs have been seeking to forensically search computers used for redistricting to find out why they did not receive documents that were supposed to be turned over to them and to learn if any other records were improperly withheld. So far, they have not been able to learn where the state computers are located, let alone search them.
Groups involved in a long-simmering legal fight with Republicans have subpoenaed Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and other officials in an attempt to track down computers they want to search.
“This is public property that people pay for,the fact they won’t share this information is beyond comprehension.” said Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca
“We’re through fooling around, we’re going to get to the bottom of where these computers are.”said Peter Earle, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs. Assembly Speaker subpoenaed in redistricting feud
The subpoenas seek to locate the computers. They were served on Vos; Senate Chief Clerk Jeffrey Renk; Assembly Chief Clerk Patrick Fuller; and the Legislative Technology Service Bureau.
Subpoenas were also planned for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) and an unnamed representative of Michael Best.
Depositions are scheduled for Feb. 1 and “Um…dunno”.
Vos said last week in an interview that he knew nothing about where the redistricting computers were located. He could not be reached Friday, but an aide acknowledged receipt of the subpoena.
Senator Fitzgerald aide Tom Evenson declined to comment.
UPDATE BREAKING this A.M.
Makes one wonder – What are they hiding? How can this go on?