February 11, 2016

Uncovered emails shed new light on redistricting

A public hearing last year on the Wisconsin Legislature’s redistricting plan was heavily orchestrated; with majority Republicans recruiting sympathizers and telling them what to say when appearing before the committee. That revelation and others came out today in 34 emails describing how GOP redrew the new boundaries for state Senate and Assembly districts.

The Republicans’ law firm in the redistricting process, Michael Best and Friedrich, released the emails to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, after an independent computer evaluator uncovered them. The emails in question were never given to Democratic and Hispanic plaintiffs who lost a lawsuit over the redistricting package, although a federal court panel told the Republicans three times to hand those documents over.

The messages also said there was a concerted effort to keep Hispanics in the same Senate district in Milwaukee, so if the federal court found problems the required changes in district lines would only be minimal.

The court did rule that Republicans tried to reduce Hispanic representation in the Legislature by spreading Latinos into two Assembly districts. The judges ordered the new districts to be changed to assure one Hispanic district in Milwaukee. The rest of the maps were ruled to be constitutional.

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