Republican mapmakers who drew Michigan’s current political districts were pressured to appease lawmakers and made changes to help gain legislative approval, according to documents and depositions in a federal lawsuit. The documents show mapmakers in 2011 gave top party officials the partisan vote history breakdowns of new districts, shared proposed maps with an interest group linked to the DeVos family, entertained suggestions from at least one GOP donor and faced backlash from incumbents vexed at how their districts were redrawn. “I think your map protects all nine incumbents and it looks good,” GOP redistricting guru Bob LaBrant, then a Michigan Chamber of Commerce official, told congressional mapmaker Jeff Timmer in a May 2011 email. It came as pressure from within and outside the Legislature began to rise.
But Republican then-U.S. Rep. Thad McCotter of Livonia and U.S. Rep. Justin Amash of West Michigan, in particular, were “concerned and at times opposed or threatening to be opposed and disrupting the legislative process” by lobbying lawmakers against the plan, Timmer, a GOP consultant for the Lansing-based Sterling Corp, said in a sworn deposition.
The transcripts were revealed by attorneys for congressional Republicans as part of a motion to dismiss the suit alleging partisan gerrymandering. They reference emails that shed light on a redistricting process that Michigan law allows to be controlled by whichever party holds power at the start of any given decade.