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Redistricting plaintiffs want Corrine Brown to pay for their consultants

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

The winners of the congressional redistricting fight now are sending U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown their own $23,600 bill for consultants.

The League of Women Voters of Florida, Common Cause and others already filed a motion for sanctions against the North Florida congresswoman for unsuccessfully challenging them in federal court.

Court dockets show they’ve now added a “bill of costs” for the consultants they used, adding “expert witness fees” to their previous demand for an “award of attorneys’ fees,” now estimated at $220,000.

Brown, however, is their second choice as a payor after the state itself. The plaintiffs lost a previous attempt at getting the state to pay its legal tab when the Florida Supreme Court turned them down.

If the state won’t pay, they want a federal judge to “assess attorneys’ and expert fees against Congresswoman Brown because her (Voting Rights Act) and constitutional claims were frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation,” their motion says.

Allan Lichtman – an author, voting rights expert and professor at American University in Washington, D.C. – charged $13,600 for his work.

Jowei Chen, a University of Michigan political science professor, billed for $10,000, records show. Each also provided voting-related statistical analysis.

Brown fought the redrawing of Florida’s congressional districts in federal court. Specifically, the Jacksonville Democrat had asked the court to set aside her redrawn seat, the 5th Congressional District.

The plaintiffs successfully argued that the map OK’d by state lawmakers after the last census was gerrymandered, or unconstitutionally favored Republican incumbents and challengers.

Brown said her new district violates federal voting laws by cutting down the influence of minority voters and discriminates against them. A panel of federal judges said Brown had “not proven (her) case.” She has appealed the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Florida Supreme Court changed Brown’s seat from a north-south district that meandered from Jacksonville to Sanford, to an east-west district that runs from Jacksonville to rural Gadsden County.

She has said she intends to run for re-election, but already faces a Democratic primary challenge from former state lawmaker Al Lawson of Tallahassee.

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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