By JAVIER MANJARRESThe proverbial political cat is out of the bag for the Democratic Party, as emails obtained by our friends over at the Washington Free Beacon expose egregious gerrymandering of Florida’s congressional districts between Congresswoman Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee, Democratic consultants, and the Florida Democratic Party during the 2012 redistricting process.
The Shark Tank broke the story that Congressman Allen West was going to be “screwed” during redistricting, because of a deal the Republican controlled Florida Legislature had struck with Democrats. While Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin pounced on the redistricting “fix” that was taking place against Allen West, the GOP establishment moved quickly to cover its own hind, as several high-ranking legislators directly pointed the finger at two legislators as being the responsible parties of the controversy, former Senate President Mike Haridopolos and current Senate President Don Gaetz.(Rush Limbaugh discussed Shark Tank story of Allen West)
The legislators in question told the Shark Tank that Haridopolos personally asked to let the state Senate redistrict West’s congressional district. Again, desperate politicians looking to save their careers will say anything to stay out of hot water, perhaps even lie about Haridopolos’ direct involvement.
But then there is current Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, Will Weatherford, who confirmed to the Shark Tank that a deal was struck between himself, former Florida Speaker of the House Dean Cannon, Gaetz, Haridopolos, and Democrats to draw up a “fair” map.
It’s a challenging process, but I think that what Senator Gaetz and I, and the Speaker and the President negotiated is a map that is fair and is legal. We allowed everyone to have a say. Republicans had a say, Democrats had a say. If people wanted to file amendments to make the districts different, they could, but everything we did was based on how to make the maps as legal as we possibly could.-Rep. Will Weatherford (R) (Full story)
Within a day or so of the this news, West decided to run in a safer congressional district, and later confirmed that he was aware of some deal Republicans and Democrats had in the works, telling CBS News “No one’s gonna lay a trap for me.”Here is what the Washington Free Beacon reported:(Story)
“The top state and national party leaders, including Florida congressmen Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Ted Deutsch, and Alcee Hastings, signed off on the gerrymandered maps, according to the emails released during court discovery in Romo v. Scott, a legal challenge to redistricting maps that the GOP-controlled state legislature approved in 2012.
“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.
1)“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.
2)“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!”
The maps were drawn up by party strategists to maximize Democratic performance in the state while hewing to recently passed amendments in Florida that prohibit gerrymandering.
3)“The attached includes statistics for a congressional map that creates twelve 50 percent + Democratic districts while limiting the number of times counties are split between multiple districts,” says a January 2012 email from NCEC Services’ Eric Hawkins to Florida Democratic Party executive director Scott Arcenaux.4)“The plan is an attempt to strike a balance between a clean map and one that is far more favorable to Democrats. A more Democratic map is possible but will require more splitting of counties and towns.”
Democrats also attempted to fundraise off the maps. Florida Democratic Party chairman Smith solicited six-figure donations from allied groups, asking them to support the party’s lawsuit against the state GOP’s redistricting map.
5)“At stake is the potential balance of power in the third most populous state,” Smith wrote in his email to the Teamsters. “If we remain successful we will pick up 2-5 state Senate seats and 3-6 congressional seats.”
6)“The problem is we need the funds to compete with the Republicans enormous advantage in funding this litigation,” Smith continued. “I have asked the Teamsters for $100,000 to help the FDP win a map that creates the fair districts that Floridians favor.”
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