Previously secret testimony and documents about the 2012 redistricting process, released Tuesday by the Florida Supreme Court, provide the most detailed information yet about an alleged plan by Republican political consultants to funnel maps through members of the public to conceal the origins. The effort itself is not a surprise; revelations at a redistricting trial about a map submitted under the name of former Florida State University student Alex Posada had already indicated some maps submitted through the Legislature’s system to gather public ideas were not drawn by the people whose names were attached to them. But the records and testimony released Tuesday provide the clearest view yet of the breadth of the scheme and how the consultants tried to explain it away. “The documents that these political operatives worked so hard to hide from the public, along with their testimony given in closed proceedings, reveal in great detail how they manipulated the public process to achieve their partisan objectives,” said David King, a lawyer for voting-rights organizations challenging the state’s congressional districts.
In the end, according to a brief filed with the Supreme Court by those fighting the districts, maps submitted under the names of at least seven individuals were cited as support or inspiration for the congressional and state Senate plans approved by the Legislature. Because the groups’ brief relied on the secret documents, it was released Tuesday with the testimony of Pat Bainter, a Republican political consultant, and documents from Data Targeting Inc., his consulting firm.
That brief is part of an ongoing challenge to the congressional maps and a related case against the state Senate map, filed by the voting-rights groups. The League of Women Voters of Florida and its allies have appealed to the Supreme Court a ruling by Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis, who struck down the congressional map but approved a second draft by the Legislature. The coalition opposed to the map wants a more extensive makeover than the one approved by Lewis. The case challenging the Senate plan has not gone to trial.