While I am trying to keep blogging to a minimum while I am on vacation, I can’t help but comment on a statement made during the high stakes trial which could decide the future of of the state’s congressional districts.
The testimony of my friend, political consultant Marc Reichelderfer, marked the beginning of the first-ever court battle over the state’s once-a-decade redistricting process under the anti-gerrymandering Fair Districts amendments.
On Monday, Reichelderfer underwent hours of grilling by attorneys for a coalition of voting-rights groups trying to persuade Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis that Republicans drew maps that ran afoul of the constitutional standards. Democrats have long complained that part of the reason that the government of a swing state like Florida is dominated by Republicans is because of gerrymandering.
Reichelderfer repeatedly denied that he provided specific feedback to former House Speaker Dean Cannon and Kirk Pepper, one of the speaker’s top aides, on how to craft new districts that would help the GOP.
During his testimony, Reichelderer delivered this hard-to-swallow statement, “The fact they’re (the maps) on my computer doesn’t tell me how they got there.”
C’mon, Marc, children offer better excuses than that. You sound like someone pulled over for driving with an open container of beer who tells the cop that just because there is a cold Budweiser in the car ‘that doesn’t tell you how it got there.’
Despite this ridiculous defense, Reichelderfer is in the clear.
“I didn’t give them maps that I drew,” Reichelderfer said. “I didn’t tell them where to draw lines on the map. I didn’t tell them which maps they should pick.”
Any conversations Reichelderfer had with the two, he said, concerned “global” issues in redistricting, like how to avoid drawing lines that would dilute minority voters’ ability to elect candidates of their own choice, potentially leading to a challenge to the maps under the federal Voting Rights Act.
A coalition of groups contends legislators drew up maps for congressional seats that violate those standards. Attorneys for the Legislature call the allegations false.
The lawsuit says several districts, including the one held by U.S. Rep. Corinne Brown in Jacksonville, were drawn in a way to help Republicans Republicans.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this post.