A MUST READ: How Democrats Fooled California’s Redistricting Commission

Excellent article posted by the non-profit, independent, investigative journalists, ProPublica. This is a MUST read if you’ve been following the machinations of the Arizona ‘Independent’ Redistricting Commission. If you don’t think it can happen here in Arizona, it already has just like it happened in California. Here is a segment of the article:

This spring, a group of California Democrats gathered at a modern, airy office building just a few blocks from the U.S. Capitol. The meeting was House members only — no aides allowed — and the mission was seemingly impossible.

In previous years, the party had used its perennial control of California’s state Legislature to draw district maps that protected Democratic incumbents. But in 2010, California voters put redistricting in the hands of a citizens’ commission where decisions would be guided by public testimony and open debate.

The question facing House Democrats as they met to contemplate the state’s new realities was delicate: How could they influence an avowedly nonpartisan process? Alexis Marks, a House aide who invited members to the meeting, warned the representatives that secrecy was paramount. “Never say anything AT ALL about redistricting — no speculation, no predictions, NOTHING,” Marks wrote in an email. “Anything can come back to haunt you.”

In the weeks that followed, party leaders came up with a plan. Working with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — a national arm of the party that provides money and support to Democratic candidates — members were told to begin “strategizing about potential future district lines,” according to another email.

The citizens’ commission had pledged to create districts based on testimony from the communities themselves, not from parties or statewide political players. To get around that, Democrats surreptitiously enlisted local voters, elected officials, labor unions and community groups to testify in support of configurations that coincided with the party’s interests.

When they appeared before the commission, those groups identified themselves as ordinary Californians and did not disclose their ties to the party. One woman who purported to represent the Asian community of the San Gabriel Valley was actually a lobbyist who grew up in rural Idaho, and lives in Sacramento.

In one instance, party operatives invented a local group to advocate for the Democrats’ map.

California’s Democratic representatives got much of what they wanted from the 2010 redistricting cycle, especially in the northern part of the state. “Every member of the Northern California Democratic Caucus has a ticket back to DC,” said one enthusiastic memo written as the process was winding down. “This is a huge accomplishment that should be celebrated by advocates throughout the region.”

(Read the entire article)

Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission Releases Final ‘Tentative’ Maps

CONGRESSIONAL MAP (GOOGLE)

LEGISLATIVE MAP (GOOGLE)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 20, 2011

TEMPE, Ariz. (Dec. 20, 2011) – The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission this evening adopted a tentative congressional- and legislative-district maps, pending analyses by the panel’s legal counsel and voting-rights consultants.

Both maps passed on 3-2 votes, but with different breakdowns. On the congressional map, Chairman Colleen Coyle Mathis voted “yes,” along with Vice Chairman José Herrera and Commissioner Linda McNulty. Vice Chairman Scott Freeman and Commissioner Richard Stertz voted “no.” The legislative map drew “yeas” from Mathis, McNulty and Stertz and “nays” from Freeman and Herrera.

“This is a significant step toward fulfilling our mission,” Mathis said. “We’ve spent four weeks improving the draft maps, incorporating many of the suggestions we received during our second round of public hearings, as well as comments submitted to us in writing. We worked very hard to reach consensus on the map where possible, and it was also our consensus that it was time to move the process along.”

According to counsel Mary O’Grady, the panel will have to vote on the maps again after receiving the legal and technical analyses. The commission’s lawyers and staff then must prepare the state’s submission to the Department of Justice for its approval as mandated under the federal Voting Rights Act.

Major tweaks to the congressional map included:

  • Reuniting Fountain Hills with Scottsdale in the proposed 6th District;
  • Making Cochise County whole in the proposed 2nd District, along with the eastern portion of metropolitan Tucson; and
  • Moving western Maricopa County to the rural 4th District, leaving the proposed 8th District more compact and suburban.

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Senate Leadership: Statement on Governor’s decision not to call special session

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 29, 2011
CONTACT: Mike Philipsen

Statement from Senate Leadership on the Governor’s decision not to call a special session on redistricting

“We are disappointed in Governor Brewer’s decision this afternoon to not call a Special Session on redistricting. After all the unconstitutional decisions and alleged violations of law by IRC Chair Mathis, Arizona voters deserve the opportunity to revisit the concept of an independent commission drawing the legislative and congressional maps. The flaws of having one unaccountable and unelected person making such vital decisions for the state have been exposed.

Senate and House leadership have met numerous times with the Governor and her staff, and we have assured her as recently as this morning that we had the votes necessary to put a Prop. 106 repeal or reform on the ballot in February.

We urge the Governor to reconsider her decision to not call a Special Session.”

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Statement from Governor Jan Brewer on Redistricting in Arizona

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 29, 2011
CONTACT: Matthew Benson

“Perhaps the most difficult part of being a leader is telling people what they don’t want to hear. This is one of those moments. I share the sentiments of Arizona voters concerned about the conduct of the Independent Redistricting Commission, especially its Chairwoman. Likewise, I am deeply concerned that this year’s redistricting process has not been conducted openly and in full accordance with the Arizona Constitution, and that the resulting maps may unfairly diminish the political influence of individual communities and the state as a whole.

“It was with those concerns in mind that I removed the Chairwoman from her post with the IRC. I stand by that action, and believe the Arizona Supreme Court grossly erred in returning the Chairwoman to the Commission. There may be another time to deal with the Court, but it’s important at a time like this that we keep our eyes on the bigger picture.

“Arizona voters created the Independent Redistricting Commission with their approval in 2000 of Proposition 106. I’ve seen no evidence to date that indicates voters are ready or willing to throw out the Commission structure. Moreover, the Legislature has yet to produce a consensus set of redistricting reforms to propose to voters.

“I am aware of the time urgency. I know that some legislators, especially those of my political family, are anxious for me to call a Special Session so that they may pursue a ballot proposal to repeal or reform Prop 106. But we cannot act in haste – or in anger – when it comes to something as critical as the way in which Arizona draws its congressional and legislative districts. Our action must be reasoned and rational, and there must be a defined path to victory with voters. I will not call a Special Session on this topic unless and until I believe those bars have been met.”

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Senator Steve Pierce: Redistricting chief’s actions overtly partisan

By Steve Pierce

When voters approved Proposition 106 in 2000, creating the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, they included a procedure for removal of a member of the commission. A member could be removed from the commission for “gross misconduct” or “substantial neglect of duty.” The determination is to be made by the governor, and the state Senate must sign off on the removal by a two-thirds vote.

Prop. 106 set a high bar for a person to be removed, but with all the evidence piled up, Colleen Mathis soars over that bar, and must not serve on the IRC.

The priority of the IRC and its chair is to produce constitutional maps every 10 years. Mathis presided over a process that produced unconstitutional maps. In fact, they were unconstitutional in all six criteria used to measure the validity of the maps.

Part of the sales job for the original passage of Prop. 106 was that it would take the redistricting process out from the closed doors of the Legislature and into the open for all of the public to see. Instead, the IRC faces allegations of open meetings law violations, and Mathis admits to taking the maps home with her on a weekend, making key changes to the congressional maps and then springing them on commissioners the following Monday for a vote. That is hardly the transparency Arizona voters wanted.

Mathis also apparently held clandestine meetings with Strategic Telemetry, the mapping company from D.C., without the knowledge of other commissioners. This partisan firm had no track record on mapping, never in Arizona, but Mathis made an aggressive pitch for ST outside the IRC meetings. Her husband also has reportedly attempted to broker side deals with Republican commissioners in blatant violation of constitutional transparency requirements.

The IRC allegedly shredded key bidding documents. The procurement process was so bad that the Arizona Department of Administration pulled out of it, sending a letter to the IRC saying that it was not complying with basic requirements.

Even in her application to the IRC, Mathis wasn’t completely open with information. She now admits she should have disclosed that her husband was campaign treasurer for Democratic Rep. Nancy Young-Wright.

When the IRC hired attorneys for each party, Mathis sided with the Democrats in hiring the Democrats’ attorney, and sided with the Democrats in hiring the Republicans’ attorney. That’s right – Republicans weren’t even allowed to hire their own attorney.

The Constitution requires that mapping be done by “adjustments to the grid.” Mathis appears to have ignored that requirement and used a mapping method she called a “doughnut hole.” It was an unconstitutional plan that left Arizonans looking to clean up the crumbs of that doughnut.

The evidence is overwhelming that Mathis has committed “gross misconduct” and “substantial neglect of duty.” And no matter what the Arizona Supreme Court justices may think, Prop. 106 makes it clear the determination is to be made not by men and women in black robes, but by the governor with the approval of the Senate. That has happened, and Colleen Mathis should no longer serve on the IRC.

In our own Yavapai County, we have the population to be our own district. It fits perfectly, and we are a community of interest. We all have the same issues in front of us. This commission saw fit to chop us up so we wouldn’t have the voice we now have. After all, we are a political powerhouse, and it is clear the opposition doesn’t want us to have the clout we currently have.

There is a long list of ways the Constitution has been disregarded and broken. I won’t go into further detail. The simple fact is, this extremely important redistricting exercise has been done in a very poor manner and its effects will last for at least 10 years – especially here in Yavapai County.

Sen. Steve Pierce, R-Prescott, is the Arizona Senate President-elect.

Speaker Andy Tobin Statement on Arizona Supreme Court Reinstatement of Mathis, AIRC

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 23, 2011
CONTACT: Daniel Scarpinato

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX (Nov. 23, 2011) – House Speaker Andy Tobin released the following statement today:

“With the Supreme Court having clearly overstepped its bounds, I continue to believe that the reinstatement of Colleen Mathis as chairwoman of the Independent Redistricting Commission represents a dangerous threat to the independent process Arizona voters want and deserve. I fully support any and all efforts by the Governor to immediately remove Chairwoman Mathis and call the Legislature into special session to refer a measure to the ballot allowing voters the opportunity to repeal this commission, which has shown total disregard for the Arizona Constitution. We must act immediately to ensure that this broken and biased process does not continue to unfold.”

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Vic Williams: Redistricting Commission Is Not Independent

By State Representative Vic Williams

As a member of the Arizona House of Representatives, I would like to express my thoughts on the Independent Redistricting Commission. For those who do not know, Prop 106 was a voter approved ballot initiative that was passed in 1998 putting the redistricting authority into the hands of an independent commission. The heart of the initiative was to create an independent body that would act in a non-partisan nature.

Ten years ago the IRC, with then chairman Steve Lynn, was successful in achieving these goals. They were able to draw maps that adequately reflected voter populations, communities of interest and remained consistence with the federal voters rights act. In essence it created an equal playing field for both Republicans and Democrats in Arizona in relationship to voter registration and demographic numbers.

However, it is now clear at this moment the current IRC is unbalanced and is not acting in an independent method with Colleen Mathis at the helm. Most do not know this, but Colleen Mathis’ husband served as the treasurer for my Democrat opponent in the 2010 election cycle, unquestionably the most far left-wing ideolog who served in the Arizona House of Representatives. Their unsuccessful campaign was one of the dirtiest in recent southern Arizona history. Colleen Mathis failed to mention this in her application to the IRC. That fact alone makes it all but impossible for Colleen Mathis to be impartial and to be able to act in an independent manner.

For me, as an Arizona State Representative from Northwest Pima County it is not a matter of eliminating the IRC, but how we fix it so it functions as it did 10 years ago under Steve Lynn. The IRC has performed at a high level of efficiency and integrity in the past and it can again if we take steps to fix it. If Governor Brewer calls the legislature into special session next week I would be willing to vote for reforms to the current independent system. It is clear that Colleen Mathis is unable to conduct herself in a non-partisan and independent manner. Mathis must go!

As well, in order for the integrity of the IRC to be re-established other reforms must be taken. The voters of Arizona should consider accepting a more thorough vetting process to ensure that people like Mathis who have a political agenda do not get put on the commission. There should be mechanisms in place to remove members who lie or mislead in the application process. We should consider expanding the board beyond its current level of 5 members, which will not allow so much power to be controlled by so few.

It is important that we honor the will of the voters and ensure that they get what they bargained for: a truly independent redistricting commission that does not serve the interest of ether the Republicans or the Democrats, but that of the interest of the people of Arizona.

Rep. Vic Williams serves the communities of Marana, Oro Valley, Saddlebrooke, Flowing Wells, the Catalina Foothills, Casa Adobes, unincorporated N/W Pima County and Tucson. You can contact Representative Williams at vwilliams@azleg.gov or 602-926-5839.

Governor Jan Brewer Seeks Clarity from Arizona Supreme Court

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 21, 2011
CONTACT: Matthew Benson

Governor, Legislature Seek Explanation for High Court Intervention

PHOENIX – Time is short, and the people of Arizona deserve answers.

Governor Jan Brewer and the Arizona State Senate today filed a pair of legal motions formally requesting that the Arizona Supreme Court reconsider last week’s ruling to reinstate Chairwoman Colleen Mathis to the Independent Redistricting Commission. Additionally, the Governor and State Senate have asked the Court to clarify its November 17 order regarding the removal of Chairwoman Mathis, and for the court to stay the order reinstating the IRC Chairwoman until further clarity is provided.

Statement from Governor Brewer 

“It is untenable that the Court has blocked me from executing my Constitutional authority to remove a member of the IRC, but has provided neither explanation for its action nor a timetable for when that guidance will be granted. I maintain that my action was lawful to remove the IRC Chairwoman based on her misconduct and neglect of duty, and ask that the Court reconsider its order of reinstatement. At a minimum, the Chairwoman should be barred from resuming her duties until the Court has provided clarity regarding its cursory order.” 

Statement from Senate President-elect Steve Pierce 

“The Governor and the State Senate have clear constitutional authority to remove an IRC member. When the Court inserts itself into this process, it has an obligation to explain its actions clearly. On Thursday the Court not only disregarded the actions of the Governor, but also more than two-thirds of the State Senate. The Court owes the people of Arizona an explanation on their intervention, and Ms. Mathis must not return to the IRC until we get those answers.” 

Statement from Speaker of the House Andy Tobin 

“I fully support today’s action. Last week’s order from the Court has serious negative repercussions on the constitutional separation of powers. The Arizona Constitution clearly gives the authority to remove a commissioner to the Governor, with a concurring two-thirds vote of the State Senate. The Court has in effect substituted its judgment for that of the Governor and Senate. Therefore, I’ve directed my counsel to seek intervention in the special action for the purpose of joining the Governor and the Senate in seeking reconsideration of the order.”

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Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin: AIRC Process Flawed

In case you missed it: Arizona House Speaker Andy Tobin calls out the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission for drafting unconstitutional, gerrymandered maps in the 4th Special Session.

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Arizona Republican Party Statement on Arizona Supreme Court Ruling Reinstating Chairman Mathis

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 18, 2011
CONTACT: communications@azgop.org

PHOENIX – The Arizona Republican Party released the following statement regarding Thursday’s Arizona Supreme Court Ruling reinstating Independent Chairman, Colleen Mathis to the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. The following quotes are attributable to Chairman Tom Morrissey:

“The Arizona Supreme Court sided against the people of Arizona by reinstating Colleen Mathis to the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission late yesterday.

“It is both disappointing and disturbing that the State High Court would reinstate an individual who has demonstrated a number of actions that have adversely affected the integrity of our electoral redistricting process. From omissions on her application to open meeting violations, political collusion with Democrats and a blatant disregard for Arizona’s Constitution, Mathis has proven herself not to be trusted with Arizona’s redistricting process. Governor Jan Brewer realized this and the Arizona State Senate realized it but the Arizona Supreme Court erred by failing to recognize a seriously compromised process.

“The Arizona Republican Party will continue to stand by Governor Jan Brewer, Senate President Steve Pierce and House Speaker Andy Tobin in the effort to correct this process as quickly as possible. The voters of Arizona deserve an open, transparent and law-abiding process that respects the rights and representation of all Arizona voters. It’s time for the law to prevail and not the leftist legal manipulation of our Constitution.”

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