Monday, February 4, 2013

ALEC secretly helps Wisco pols pick their voters

This should not be a surprise to anyone, but still...

Wisconsin is one of five states where in 2012 Democratic congressional candidates got more than half the votes but less than half the seats.  Wisconsin Republicans received 49 percent of the votes but won 62.5 percent of the seats, due in part to ALEC's secret redrawing of voting district lines.

It all started in 2010, when a flood of dark money swept Wisconsin Republicans into the House, the Senate and the governor's office, the Center for Media and Democracy reported. With control of state government, the GOP secretly redrew voting districts in 2011. CMD tells us:
Wisconsin Republicans hired a private law firm to help draw the maps and held a series of secret meetings at their law offices, apparently in an attempt to protect the redistricting effort from public view and disguise it behind attorney-client privilege. 
Legal wrangling ensued. Judges ordered Republicans to turn over documents relating to the redistricting.  They did, but not all of them. The CMD did get hold of relevant emails that weren't turned over. And this is what they found:
...the highly partisan American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) was involved in redistricting, based on emails obtained through open records requests to Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. ALEC had pushed redistricting approaches spearheaded by the former lawyer for the national Republican Party, Mark Braden, and hosted a special conference call with that partisan lawyer to advise ALEC legislators on redistricting. 
The emails CMD obtained were not released to the lawyers challenging the maps. But they should have been. This failure to release all redistricting-related documents opened a new round of legal wrangling, with the court questioning what other documents Republican legislators and their lawyers had kept secret. 
And here's the latest on the legal machinations from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Republicans approved hiring Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek just three days after the plaintiffs in the case subpoenaed officials so that they could search state computers and external hard drives. The plaintiffs want to search the computers because attorneys for the Legislature did not turn over some records in the case that they were required to. For months, the plaintiffs have been trying to ascertain why the records were not released and whether there are other records that are yet to be turned over.
The cost of all litigation to the taxpayers so far: $1.9 million and counting.