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Was Art Pope running the redistricting show?

Newly-appointed state budget director Art Pope was in the room — literally — when dark money-funded groups worked behind the scenes with Republican state legislators and operatives in 2010 to draw up the redistricting maps which led to the party’s sweep of state and federal legislative races this year, according to an article last week on the watchdog journalism site ProPublica.

Drawing from documents produced in the lawsuits challenging those maps, Pro Publica describes how Republican legislators and operatives hired Republican State Leadership Group redistricting map guru Tom Hofeller to craft voting districts that would “virtually guarantee big gains for the party.”  Hofeller set about packing minority voters into a few districts, so that surrounding districts could become more Republican.  The plan was, according to one Hofeller email,  to “incorporate all the significant concentrations of minority voters in the northeast into the first district.”

Pro Publica also details how a mysteriously-funded nonprofit called  Fair and Legal Redistricting for North Carolina sprung up after Republicans took control of the General Assembly in 2010. That group hired a mapping technician named Joel Raupe to work day-to-day on redistricting efforts at party headquarters on Hillsborough Street, with Republican state legislative leaders visiting frequently and consulting with the team there.

Working right along side of Raupe was Art Pope, appointed “‘co-counsel’ to the legislative leadership and allowed in the room to give direct instructions to the technician.”

“”We worked together at the workstation,” said Raupe, the technical expert paid by Fair and Legal Redistricting, in a deposition. “He sat next to me.”

Pope is now claiming that because he was acting as a legal adviser for the state, any information about his involvement in the redistricting effort is privileged and should not be disclosed in the lawsuits.

The question of what information about the redistricting process must be disclosed in the lawsuits, and what can be withheld on privilege grounds, was argued before the state Supreme Court in July and is awaiting decision.

Read more about what Pro Publica had to say about the Republican redistricting effort and its effect on this year’s election here.

 

 

 

 

 

13 Comments

  1. david esmay

    December 27, 2012 at 11:57 am

    We need an independent no-partisan redistricting commission now more than ever and the events described in the article need the DoJ’s attention.

  2. Frank Burns

    December 27, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Turnabout is fair play. Apparantly this wasn’t an issue when the Dems were in charge.

  3. gregflynn

    December 27, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    It wasn’t fair play when Democrats did it and it’s not fair play now. Redistricting should not be controlled by either Democrats or Republicans. Neither party represents a majority of voters.

    Voter Registration as of 12/26/2012
    Democratic: 2,860,078
    Republican: 2,043,452
    Libertarian: 19,925
    Unaffiliated: 1,704,954
    Total: 6,628,409

    North Carolinians for Redistricting Reform is a broad, nonpartisan coalition of organizations supporting a redistricting model that removes line-drawing power from the legislature and rests that power with an independent body. The coalition believes that the redistricting process needs to be open and transparent. The process must include significant public input with the opportunity for citizens to weigh in on proposed legislative maps.

    North Carolinians for Redistricting Reform supports drawing district lines based on the following criteria:

    -Comply with all state and federal constitutional and Voting Rights Act requirements, including population equality
    -Geographical compactness and contiguity
    -Respect political subdivisions and communities of interest
    -Incumbents’ residences will not be identified or considered
    -Promote competitive districts by excluding party registration and voting history data from the initial mapping process. Party registration and voting history may be used to test district maps for compliance with other priorities.

    When John Hood and Chris Fitzsimon are on the same page it’s worth paying attention to it.

  4. Frank Burns

    December 27, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    What do you all consider an independant body? You better not say Democracy NC.

  5. david esmay

    December 28, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Frank, you are a little dense. Twelve states have independent commissions or boards, six of whom that have first and final say on redistricting maps. Iowa has a commission made up of non-partisan legislative staff that create maps based solely on population, they cannot access political or election data, including the addresses of incumbents. Democracy NC would not fall into any of these categories.

  6. Frances Jenkins

    December 29, 2012 at 8:50 am

    This is the efforts by nonprofit groups such as Democray NC to regain power in NC for Democrats. The same Democrats who established corruption as a norm. Tell it like it is.How can someone trust a nonprofit group such as Bob Hall/Democracy NC that operates totally as a Democrat operative? Do they really claim to be in compliance with guidelines of a nonprofit? Where is Elaine Marshall in following the guidelines of a nonprofit? We are playing by two sets of rules and some rules never apply. Talk about double standards!!!!

  7. david esmay

    December 29, 2012 at 9:03 am

    Frances stop babbling.

  8. Frances Jenkins

    December 29, 2012 at 9:09 am

    Sharon,
    The Democrats had a similar group advising them on a response to the redistricting Plan. Who was on their team, what is their connection to the Democrat party, who paid their bills and what was the cave for their meetings? What is the content of the e-mails exchanged by the Democrat leadership in regards to redistricting? In the interest of fairness, I know this information is at your finger tips.

  9. Frances Jenkins

    December 29, 2012 at 9:09 am

    The truth does hurt, David.

  10. Dave Connelly

    December 29, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    NC GOP’s redistricting moved beyond gerrymandering and into apartheid. South Africa would have been proud.

  11. Frank Burns

    December 30, 2012 at 9:59 am

    I believe in fair play with regards to redistricting, therefore now that the GOP is in charge, come back in a 100 years and we can then discuss an “indeoendant panel”.coming in and redrawing the map. Until then, please stop whining.

  12. david esmay

    December 31, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    The GOP’s control will be short lived Frank, the last two years have proved they have no idea how to govern and the DOJ will eliminate the new gerrymandered maps.

  13. Frances Jenkins

    December 31, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    I think David has made one of them there grammical mistakes. I am in shock that such a brillant mind would ever think of such a thing. Guess David is human just like the rest of us.