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.

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.

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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Arizona Supreme Court Reinstates Colleen Mathis as Chairman of Redistricting Commission

Early this evening, the Arizona Supreme Court issued a ruling reinstating the so-called ‘Independent’ Colleen Mathis to the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.

This is a victory for leftists and Strategic Telemetry who were attempting to manipulate the Arizona Constitution to gain political power by leveraging data to the left’s advantage.

Three members of the commission decided to disregard the mandates outlined in the Arizona Constitution and solely utilize the element of competitiveness to draft Arizona electoral boundaries.

The law states the following under Article 4, Part 2, Section 1:

(14) The independent redistricting commission shall establish congressional and legislative districts. The commencement of the mapping process for both the congressional and legislative districts shall be the creation of districts of equal population in a grid-like pattern across the state. Adjustments to the grid shall then be made as necessary to accommodate the goals as set forth below: 

A. Districts shall comply with the United States Constitution and the United States voting rights act; 

B. Congressional districts shall have equal population to the extent practicable, and state legislative districts shall have equal population to the extent practicable; 

C. Districts shall be geographically compact and contiguous to the extent practicable; 

D. District boundaries shall respect communities of interest to the extent practicable; 

E. To the extent practicable, district lines shall use visible geographic features, city, town and county boundaries, and undivided census tracts; 

F. To the extent practicable, competitive districts should be favored where to do so would create no significant detriment to the other goals.

The two Democrats and Independent member, Colleen Mathis, established “F” – the competitive provision – as the main criteria in drafting the maps.

This was a blatant redistribution of votes.

With Mathis now reinstated, the commission can move forward working to further divide and leverage minority power against the rest of the State of Arizona.

We would assume that Governor Brewer is furious over the court’s action (A statement was just released.)

This may also set the stage for a constitutional crisis.

This also should give the legislature further motive to move quickly to enter a special session with the exclusive objective of referring a repeal of the law that gave us the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.

The Legislature has until November 30th to pass a referendum in order to place it on the ballot on the same day of the Presidential Preference Election on February 28th.

If you support repealing the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission and restoring this authority to 90 elected accountable people instead of 5 un-elected un-accountable people, contact the Arizona Legislature and let them know.

Time is running out for the legislature to act.

Lets restore this important authority to those who will not manipulate the law using slick Democrat consulting firms.

Weekend Vids: Schapira vs. Kavanagh, Lewis vs. Pearce & Gullett vs. Stanton

Senate Majority Leader Biggs on removal of IRC Chair Colleen Mathis

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 4, 2011
CONTACT: Mike Philipsen

Op-Ed by Senate Majority Leader, Andy Biggs

When the drafters of Proposition 106 took their idea to the ballot in 2000, they knew they had to address the possibility of the State needing to remove a Commission member. They wrote that a Commission member could be removed by the Governor, with the support of two-thirds of the State Senate, for acts considered “gross misconduct” or “substantial neglect of duty”

Thank goodness they included that in the proposition approved by Arizona voters. Because of that wording, and the overwhelming evidence that Chair Colleen Mathis committed “gross misconduct” and “substantial neglect of duty”, the Governor was able to remove Ms. Mathis before she could do any more damage to our state.

We have to get past the arguments of which party benefits by which map. That’s not what this is about. To make the decision to remove a member of the IRC, we must look at their actions in office. Take the partisan blinders off and look at how Ms. Mathis committed “substantial neglect of duty”.

  • She admitted meeting in violation of open-meeting laws in a pursuit “of consensus” on awarding the mapping consultant contract.
  • There is evidence that Ms. Mathis fudged the scoring on the mapping consultant in order that her preferred company was chosen. One political commentator indicated that her actions resembled bid rigging.
  • She failed to disclose on her application that her husband was the Treasurer of Democratic candidate for the Legislature Nancy Young-Wright.
  • Contrary to the Constitution she appointed two vice-chairmen instead of one.
  • Her presentation of a donut-hole map, and the instructions to the Commission was a violation of the Constitutional requirement that the maps work from a grid and make adjustments to that grid.
  • She privately created her own Congressional district map and forced a vote on that map on the same day it was introduced.

This list of her misconduct does not even include the pages of unconstitutional activities discovered during the course of the Joint Legislative hearings on the Independent Redistricting Commission.

We don’t even need to speculate on the partisan motivations behind all these actions. The actions themselves are more than enough to remove her.

Proposition 106 included very specific guidelines on the role of the Legislature in the redistricting process. This Legislature has followed those guidelines to the letter. Legislative leaders selected four of the five members. The Legislature reviewed the conduct and product of the Commission and made comments to the IRC. Members did this by convening a joint bipartisan commission, although Democrats shirked their duty by “boycotting” meetings. The State Senate has followed the requirement to review and confirm/refuse in the case of the Governor’s removal of a commissioner. Once the Senate received the Governor’s call of a special session and findings outlined in her removal letter to the former IRC Chair, the Senate had a duty to act.

As the weeks go on, many will discuss whether the IRC system is even the best way to draw Congressional and Legislative maps. But that is the system we are under right now, the Governor and Legislature worked in a Constitutional manner and removed a Commission member for a series of unconstitutional acts.

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Senator Sylvia Allen on the Constitutional removal of Colleen Mathis

Senator Sylvia Allen

On Tuesday the Senate confirmed the Governor’s removal of the Independent Redistricting Commission Chair Colleen Mathis. This action should have been taken back in June, but it was taken now because the maps produced by the IRC under the direction of the Chair are unconstitutional in all six criteria that must be considered:

  • The U.S.Voting Rights Act
  • Equal Population
  • Geographical Compactness
  • Respect for Communities of Interest
  • Use of Visible Geographic features
  • Competitiveness

We believe that Ms. Mathis has presided over a dysfunctional process riddled with incompetence and that she has failed in her one, overriding goal: to produce constitutional maps.

The Chair prevented Republican Commission members from hiring their own counsel, and she engineered the awarding of a mapping consultant contract to a partisan firm that clearly was in over its head. The awarding of the contract to Strategic Telemetry was done under a cloud of open meeting violations and alleged bid-rigging. Those evaluations were then put through a paper shredder so that nothing can be verified.

She has refused to cooperate with the Attorney General’s open meeting law investigation of the IRC.

The IRC abandoned the use of grid maps, contrary to the Arizona Constitution.

Dramatic changes were made to the draft maps over the weekend of September 24, in private and without the full Commission. The following Monday, commissioners were asked to view and approve the entirely new maps.

After seven days of testimony in front of the Joint Legislative Committee on Redistricting, there is overwhelming evidence that the IRC has produced unconstitutional congressional and legislative draft maps. You can read the report here.

The law provides for the actions that the Governor and the Legislature took Tuesday. When Proposition 106 was passed by the people, provisions were included for removal of any Commissioner if they did not function properly and within the law.

I heard a consistent complaint over and over from many in my District who attended the IRC meeting. They felt strongly that the commissioners did not listen or care about the testimony given concerning their proposed maps. Early in the process, maps from my District had been drawn and submitted to the Commission. These maps had strong support of the vast majority of my District. These maps met the Constitutional criteria and would have kept eastern rural Arizonatogether. In my District alone, 15 cities and towns passed resolutions in support of our maps and against the IRC maps. The five eastern counties all testified that we would lose rural representation under the new maps and that the four new districts drawn out of the original District 5 did not meet the Constitutional criteria.

More than ten years ago, Prop 106 (the Creation of an Independent Redistricting Commission) was sold to the public by persuading them that it would be “independent” – that is, free from all partisanship. Please understand that NOTHING is ever free from politics or partisanship but if it is held accountable to the people through their vote and voice, then we have a better check on the process.

Before the IRC (Prop 106), the state Constitution put the responsibility for redistricting in the hands of the Legislature, approved by the Governor. This constitutional process held the Legislature/Governor accountable to the people who, through their vote and voice, could express their desires and concerns. Through this process, my 15 cities and towns and five counties’ resolutions would have had more of an impact on the Legislature than on an “independent” commission composed of people who feel no responsibility to or consequences from the voters.

By creating an “independent” commission that is totally unaccountable to the people, the people’s voice has been lost, and all that matters is the individual partisanship pressure the commissioners feel from special interests. We need to repeal the law that created the IRC and put this process back in the hands of the people, as it was originally constitutionally designed.

Governor Brewer Statement on Special Session and Removal of IRC Chairwoman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 1, 2011
CONTACT: Matthew Benson

Statement from Governor Jan Brewer
Special Session and Removal of IRC Chairwoman

Governor Jan Brewer released the following statement today as she invoked her Constitutional authority to remove a member of the Independent Redistricting Commission:

“The Arizona Constitution provides that the Governor has direct oversight of the Independent Redistricting Commission, as well as the ability to remove any member due to ‘substantial neglect of duty’ or ‘gross misconduct in office.’ I invoked that authority today with my decision to remove IRC Chairwoman Colleen Mathis, and I’ve called the Arizona Legislature into Special Session so that the State Senate may concur with this removal, in accordance with the Constitution.

“I recognize that my decision will not be popular in some quarters. I certainly did not reach it lightly. However, the conduct of the IRC – led by Chairwoman Mathis – has created a cloud of suspicion that will not lift. A flawed redistricting process has resulted in flawed district maps. As Chairwoman of this Commission, the buck stops with Ms. Mathis.

“Today’s action isn’t the easy thing, certainly. But I’m convinced it’s the right thing. I will not sit idly-by while Arizona’s congressional and legislative boundaries are drawn in a fashion that is anything but Constitutional and proper. Arizona voters must live with the new district maps for a decade.

“I urge the Senate to act quickly so that a newly-constituted Redistricting Commission may complete its duties in time.”

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