Seeing Red Over Redistricting

In this update: 1. Hearing exposes major flaws in GOP redistricting plan 2. Recall election fundraising information updated again
Seeing Red Over Redistricting

Email date: 7/14/11

In this update:
1. Hearing exposes major flaws in GOP redistricting plan
2. Recall election fundraising information updated again

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Hearing exposes major flaws in GOP redistricting plan
Two legislative committees got an earful yesterday about the Republican plan to gerrymander congressional and state legislative districts at a public hearing lasting more than seven hours. The state public affairs television network WisconsinEye was there to provide live coverage and has posted video of the entire hearing on its website.

Democracy Campaign director Mike McCabe’s remarks to members of the committees start at the 4 hour 59 minute mark. League of Women Voters of Wisconsin director Andrea Kaminski’s excellent testimony is at the 4 hour 47 minute mark.

Calling it a public hearing requires the term to be loosely applied. The proceeding was more than 3 hours old before members of the general public, some of whom had traveled great distances, were allowed to speak. Quite a few left before their turn came. Aides to the Senate and Assembly majority leaders were up first and were permitted to drone on for more than an hour. Then came an invited guest “expert,” conservative legal scholar Rick Esenberg, whose arranged testimony was meant to establish the GOP plan’s legality and he dutifully obliged the committee. Esenberg was questioned at the 1 hour 28 minute mark about the plan’s apparent violation of constitutional separation of powers, but he gamely stuck with the script. However, a civil rights attorney later (3:45) forcefully questioned how Esenberg could ethically form a legal opinion unless he had key data and other information about the plan’s formation that so far has been denied to the public.

At the beginning of his testimony, Mike McCabe mentioned a Neillsville radio station’s report that a local Republican Party official in Clark County considers the GOP redistricting plan “unethical.” Mike highlighted WDC’s alternative redistricting plan released Tuesday and also echoed a common theme heard throughout the day, namely the fact that local governments would have to scrap work they've already done on new municipal boundaries and repeat the exercise at additional expense to taxpayers.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Craig Gilbert has done some outstanding analysis of the Republican maps, exposing “classic partisan line-drawing” and showing how the plan would undermine competition in state senate elections. The newspaper also published an editorial calling the GOP scheme a “blatant power grab” and evidence of the “need to turn this process over to an independent panel.” Just such an approach has been proposed in the Legislature as Assembly Bill 198.

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Recall election fundraising information updated again
The Democracy Campaign just updated the section of our website devoted to information on fundraising and campaign spending in Wisconsin’s historic senate recall election. Go here to see the latest numbers.