In advance of a rapid-fire redistricting special session slated to start Thursday, House and Senate Republican leaders have ordered staff to have no contact with congressional members, lobbyists or political consultants. Those three cohorts of influence-peddlers and politicos helped the Legislature run afoul of Florida’s anti-gerrymandering constitutional requirements, and lawmakers appear to be taking no chances this time. “House Redistricting Committee staff have been informed that they are to have no interactions with any member of Congress, Congressional staffer or aide, or with any political consultant,” House Redistricting Chairman Richard Corcoran, R-Port Richey, said in a memo. “If any member of the House suggests to Redistricting Committee staff that a plan be changed with an intent to favor or disfavor any incumbent or political party, staff should disregard the suggestion entirely and report the conversation directly to me.”
That may not be hard — U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster, a Winter Garden Republican whose district is about to be redrawn, has refused numerous requests for comment from the Orlando Sentinel (On Friday, his office said he was too busy with his congressional duties to study the issue).
He also said staff should not use political data — voter-registration and performance data — for map-drawing purposes unless it was necessary for making sure Democratic U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown’s Jacksonville-to-Orlando district wasn’t so shifted it would no longer allow African-Americans a chance to elect a candidate of their choice.