To hear Republican operative Pat Bainter tell it, he’s a victim of voters’ anti-gerrymandering zeal. When Florida in 2010 passed reforms barring the intentional re-crafting of legislative and congressional districts to help candidates or political parties, it theoretically benched highly paid brains such as himself behind politicians such as Mike Haridopolos and Daniel Webster. In the witness testimony from last summer’s redistricting trial, the Gainesville consultant whose firm banked $2.9 million in 2011-12, declares himself a “second-class” citizen, unable to openly participate in Florida’s historic and flawed first stab at carrying out the Fair Districts reform. “The amendments themselves created a second class of citizen, including myself,” Bainter said in court testimony previously sealed. “They basically made it impossible for someone like me, that was interested in the process, to participate in that process without fear of some retribution, such as this.”
Of course, those records, which Bainter appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to keep sealed, show he was a more active participant than most. In a 2012 deposition, Bainter claimed to have been a spectator to an “intriguing” process. In his summer testimony, he repeatedly denied drawing any maps himself.
But the cumulative weight of the emails and unsealed testimony make it hard to conclude anything other than that Bainter’s Data Targeting shop was a hub for Florida GOP campaigns attempting to protect their clients and preserve the party’s super-majorities.
They participated in recruiting “citizens” to submit proposed maps to the Legislature. Although trying to help incumbents was outlawed, Bainter’s shop assembled addresses for every incumbent and added them to the maps. They discussed “retiring” one congressman.