Documents describe political consultants’ efforts in redistricting

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As Florida lawmakers, politicos and voters held a public discussion about the once-a-decade redistricting process in 2011 and 2012, Republican consultants were quietly and busily drawing maps that they later said were produced largely because of their interest in the process, reports Brandon Larrabee.

Meanwhile, GOP operatives were discussing redistricting with officials in Washington and one consultant was writing to another about an offer of help from “friends with deep pockets.”

Those portraits emerge from more than 100 pages of depositions filed recently in Leon County Circuit Court as part of the legal battle over whether the maps approved last year comply with the Fair Districts standards, a set of anti-gerrymandering constitutional amendments approved by voters in 2010.

The depositions by Marc Reichelderfer, a consultant, and Frank Terraferma, an employee of the Republican Party, paint the clearest picture yet of how a variety of outside forces worked to try to understand and influence a process that legislative leaders dubbed as the most transparent in state history.

While other documents released in the case have hinted at the efforts by consultants and party officials to come to grips with the process in light of the Fair Districts amendments, the testimony by Reichelderfer and Terraferma represents the fullest picture yet of what was happening on the periphery of the visible portion of redistricting.

… Reichelderfer brushed back the idea that there was something necessarily improper with staff members talking to political consultants about aspects of the redistricting process that didn’t touch directly on where to draw district lines — for example, which geographic features to use as guidelines under the Fair District amendments.

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