While Democrats have attacked Republicans for allegedly gerrymandering their way to a congressional majority in 2012, evidence suggests that Democrats may have behaved in precisely the same way. The Washington Free Beacon obtained records this Friday of emails sent between Democratic party officials suggesting that Florida had been deliberately gerrymandered along racial lines to maximize the chance of Democratic success in the state, possibly even with the approval of DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.
The Free Beacon reports:
“For several months the Florida Democratic Party has engaged in a legal fight over redistricting in Florida,” Florida Democratic chair Rod Smith wrote to a representative of the Teamsters Union in March 2012. “We believe that Florida can be turned from red to blue if we are successful in our efforts.”
Democratic consultant Brad Wieneke described the gerrymander in one email chain on Florida’s 23rd Congressional District, which Slate has called the 23rd one of “the most gerrymandered congressional districts” in the country and which Wasserman Schultz represents in Congress.
“They want to scoop as many Jews out of Tamarac and Sunrise as they can,” Wieneke wrote.
Redistricting maps produced by Democratic consulting firm NCEC Services were shared with attorneys at Perkins Coie, general counsel for the DNC, the emails show.
Those maps were then vetted by Smith, the DCCC, and Reps. Wasserman Schultz, Hastings, and Deutsch.
“Will speak with DWS tomorrow morning to clear it with her,” Charles Kelly, the DCCC’s southern regional political director, wrote in a March 2012 email. “Will make necessary calls tomorrow AM and DWS sign-off and we should be good!”
In the interests of fairness, it should be noted that Republican strategiests attempted something similar. The Miami Herald reported on Monday that:
Florida’s legislative leaders appear to have authorized their staff to use private email accounts, personal “dropboxes” and to engage in “brainstorming meetings” with Republican Party of Florida consultants in attempting to draw favorable political districts, despite a constitutional ban on such coordination.[...]
Heffley listed the expected participants, which included Weatherford’s redistricting chief of staff, Alex Kelly; Gaetz’s redistricting general counsel Andy Bardos; Gaetz’s district aide Chris Clark, and the political consultants running the House and Senate 2012 Republican election campaigns: Frank Terraferma, Joel Springer, Andy Palmer, Marc Reichelderfer, and Pat Bainter. Also attending: the lawyers advising the House and Senate on their redistricting efforts, George Meros and Ben Ginsberg.
Two Republican senators, Andy Gardiner, of Orlando, and Jack Latvala, of St. Petersburg, sent emails using their private email accounts to the RPOF consultants.
"What does this do to my district?" asked Gardiner in an email to Bainter after the Fair Districts coalition submitted a substitute map during the Senate’s special session on redistricting in April.
Bainter replied, “... In fact very good. But I have to tell you, this map is little more than a hatchet job cutting all kinds of stuff up.”