The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously rejected a Republican political consultant’s efforts to keep his redistricting records private, promising to give the public its first glimpse of documents that helped lead to the state’s congressional districts being thrown out this summer. While different justices signed onto two separate opinions about the case, both found that Pat Bainter and his consulting firm, Data Targeting Inc., waited too long to claim that releasing some of the documents would violate his First Amendment rights. The documents were requested by voting-rights organizations challenging the state’s congressional districts. Writing for five members of the court, Justice Barbara Pariente used unusually harsh language to paint Bainter’s efforts as part of a monthslong stalling tactic as the battle over the congressional map played out in a Leon County court.
“We simply do not countenance and will not tolerate actions during litigation that are not forthright and that are designed to delay and obfuscate the discovery process,” Pariente wrote.
In the opinion, the court ruled that Bainter tried for months to keep the documents shielded without saying that releasing them would violate his First Amendment rights. Bainter only made that claim after a Leon County judge held Bainter and the company in contempt, Pariente wrote.