The Florida Supreme Court on Monday thrust into the limelight yet another secret email that reveals the role of political consultants in the redistricting process that could have bearing on the pending lawsuit over Senate redistricting. Tom Hofeller of the Republican National Committee wrote to Rich Heffley, a consultant to the Republican Party of Florida, which appeared to underscore the consultants’ role in the redistricting process. “Congratulations on guiding the Senate through the thicket,” Hofeller wrote on April 27, 2012, after the Senate maps were complete. “Looks as if, so far, the Democrats have not realized the gains they think were [sic] going to get. Tom.” While the email won’t affect the congressional districts, which the Legislature revised and the courts have upheld, it could play a role in the lawsuit over Senate redistricting. Heffley responded: “Thanks. Big win.” He then correctly predicted the Senate composition after the 2012 elections: “Worse case minus 2. 26-14.”
Lawyers for the voters groups obtained the email as the result of a subpoena in the now-completed lawsuit over congressional districts, in which they alleged that Republican political consultants conducted a “shadow” process to manipulate redistricting maps in violation of the Fair District amendments to the Florida Constitution.
But they were unable to get the email into the record in the congressional redistricting lawsuit after attorneys for the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Congressional Committee argued that its release would violate their First Amendment right to associate.