Votelaw, Edward Still's blog on law and politics: October 2003 Archives

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October 31, 2003

Nonpartisan redistricting for California?

The Sacramento Bee via the Marin Independent Journal reports,

Ted Costa, the anti-tax activist who launched the successful campaign to recall Gov. Gray Davis, announced plans yesterday for a new ballot initiative that would change the way state and congressional districts are drawn in California.

Many political observers say districts created by the Legislature protect incumbents at extreme ends of the political spectrum. Costa said he wants to foster competition in legislative races by asking voters to give the job of redistricting instead to a three-member panel of retired judges, who would draw lines for state Assembly, Senate, Board of Equalization and congressional seats.

"Because of the bipartisan gerrymandering four years ago, we no longer have free elections in the state of California. Everything is predetermined in the primary," said Costa, chief executive officer of the People's Advocate.

The November 1993 edition of the California Target Book, which analyzes state and federal political campaigns, predicted 22 Assembly, nine Senate and 15 Congressional districts might yield competitive races in 1994. By contrast only seven Assembly, two Senate and one congressional contest will be competitive in 2004, one of the book's authors, Allen Hoffenblum, said.

"That is what gerrymandering does," Hoffenblum said.

New developments in Texas

AP reports LULAC sues state over redistricting.

Nina Perales, the MALDEF attorney representing the GI Forum, told me today that the case brought by two Democratic groups and the Forum is set to go to trial on 8 December.

If anyone has a copy of the LULAC complaint, email it to me or email me for instructions on where to fax it. The email address is in the upper right corner of the page.

Back door money for the Arizona IRC?

The Arizona Daily Sun reports,

Maricopa County Attorney Rick Romley is moving quietly to try to give some county funds to the state's Independent Redistricting Commission. Commission attorney Lisa Hauser said she got a call from Romley suggesting that there may be a legal way to funnel cash to the commission to defend against a lawsuit if state lawmakers balk. Hauser said the basis for that infusion is that the county has already has spent money putting together its plans for the 2004 election based on the commission's legislative and congressional district maps.

But the maneuver only increases the partisan nature of the ongoing fight over whether to provide more funds for the commission.

That is because the boundaries being defended are largely favorable to Republicans like Romley and a majority of the five-member board. And the challengers who want a judge to throw out those maps include a coalition of Hispanics and Democrats.

Why does a newspaper in Flagstaff carry this report while the Phoenix paper is silent?

(Disclosure: I represent the plaintiffs in the suit against the Independent Redistricting Commission over its Congressional plan.)

October 30, 2003

How BCRA decentralizes politics

... or does it?

Deep in body of an article (from the New Republic via the CBS News site) about Howard Dean probably getting the endorsement of the Service Employees International Union is this paragraph:

SEIU's formal endorsement this year could have similar ripple effects. It could be a signal to the few big unions that are still on the fence, like the American Federation of Teachers and the Communications Workers of America, which is leaning toward Dean, that the former Vermont governor is a legitimate candidate worth backing. It could also help Dean with other party interest groups, since [SEIU president Andy] Stern is one of the most influential leaders in Democratic politics. In the post-McCain-Feingold world, much of the power of the DNC has shifted to a collection of liberal umbrella organizations known as 527s. Stern is at the center of three of the most important: Partnership for America's Families, America Coming Together, and America Votes, which together will spend tens -- and maybe hundreds -- of millions of dollars next year to beat President Bush. Dean could not have found a more powerful ally to help him build the institutional support he now needs.

OK, power has moved away from the DNC, but has it just shifted to other big players?

Ag Commissioner going for a ride, but not at the fair

AP reports,

Former state Agriculture Commissioner Meg Scott Phipps was convicted Thursday of perjury and obstruction of justice, and will spend time in jail while awaiting sentencing.

Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens ordered Phipps held in the Wake County jail until a Nov. 12 sentencing hearing. He refused a request from Phipps' attorneys to reconsider his decision, but could consider future motions to release her on bail.

The jury found Phipps guilty of four of five charges: perjury, aiding and abetting perjury, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Jurors acquitted her on a single count of suborning perjury.

Witnesses testified that Phipps lied to cover up unreported cash campaign contributions and illegal payments her campaign made to help repay the campaign debt of one-time political rival and former aide Bobby McLamb.

The contributions came from carnival vendors interested in winning contracts to do business at the N.C. State Fair.

Arizona IRC may get some $

The Arizona Daily Sun reports,

A House panel took the first steps Wednesday to giving some money to the Independent Redistricting Commission to defend the congressional and legislative boundaries it crafted. On a 10-3 margin the House Appropriations Committee voted to give the commission $1.7 million. The measure now goes to the full House.

That is far less than the $4.2 million that commission Chairman Steve Lynn said may eventually be necessary on top of the $6 million it already has spent.

But Lynn said it should at least pay for the costs of the lawsuit and a likely appeal.

The need for legislative action -- and quickly -- became more apparent as the Arizona Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to even consider whether the commission is entitled automatically to more money.

Without comment the justices brushed aside arguments by Hauser that because the commission is given duties in the state Constitution it cannot be hobbled by the failure of the Legislature or governor to provide the funds.

(Disclosure: I represent the plaintiffs in the suit against the Independent Redistricting Commission over its Congressional plan.)

October 29, 2003

Texas AG: "not so"

The Tyler Morning Telegraph reports,

The Texas Attorney General's office responded Tuesday to lawsuits filed by Democrats in an East Texas court contesting recently revised congressional voting lines.

In separate answers to two complaints filed, representatives from the office denied allegations made by the plaintiffs and provided little elaboration.

The suits have been consolidated into one case and a hearing is scheduled for Monday in Marshall.

Both complaints make allegations that the voting districts drawn by Republicans harm minority representation and violate the Voting Rights Act.

I hope my friends who attend the hearing will email me their first-hand reports of the doin's.

Texas Dems to meet with DOJ

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports on meetings to be held between DOJ officials and various Texas Democratic groups opposing the re-redistricting plan.

Don't hold your breath waiting for DOJ to object.

Update: Here is a similar article from The Hill.

Arizona Supreme Court denies a stay -- again

AP reports,

The Arizona Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to order additional funding for a nearly broke commission that says it can't afford to wage a legal defense of new legislative and congressional districts it approved.

The Supreme Court also denied the Independent Redistricting Commission's request to delay an approaching Nov. 12 trial on challenges filed by Democrats and others to the commission's maps.

When I get a copy of the order, I will post it.

(Disclosure: I represent the plaintiffs in the suit against the Independent Redistricting Commission over its Congressional plan.)

October 28, 2003

First Circuit reverses Rhode Island dismissal

AP reports,

A federal appeals court in Boston has reversed a lower court's dismissal of a legislative redistricting lawsuit, reinstating the case.

While a victory for the minority organizations who brought the complaint, the ruling does not order any changes in the state's redistricting plan.

The Urban League, the Providence branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the Black American Citizens Political Action Committee sued, challenging the redistricting.

In its decision, the 1st Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said the plaintiffs should have the chance to prove their case.

In reversing [Judge Ernest C.] Torres's decision, the appeals court cited a standard for dismissal which said a complaint can be dismissed "only if it is clear that no relief could be granted under any set of facts that could be proved consistent with the allegations."

Two of the three judges who heard the case found that the federal court in Providence mistakenly rejected the claim. A third judge dissented from the ruling, saying the plaintiffs have to show the minority groups are large enough and geographically compact enough to constitute a majority in some district.

The 58-page decision said the case couldn't be dismissed just because black voters do not constitute a majority in any of the state's Senate districts.

"Requiring the protected class to show that it is an absolute majority ignores the reality that the class could elect its preferred candidate without such numbers," the court said.

Here is a copy of the decision (via Findlaw).

Arizona IRC may get its money

Here are four stories about the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission's quest for another $4.2 million in funding:

"Governor, GOP continue redistricting squabble," Phoenix Business Journal

"Governor adds redistricting funding to special session's agenda," Tucson Citizen

"Napolitano will let lawmakers spend more to defend lawsuit," Arizona Daily Sun

"Napolitano ends flap over maps," Arizona Republic

(Disclosure: I represent the plaintiffs in the suit against the Independent Redistricting Commission over its Congressional plan.)

October 27, 2003

Minnesota GOP chair: "I am innocent"

You know, it's just a shame when doing what your mama brought you up to do gets you in trouble. Writing a thank you letter got Minnesota State Republican Party Chairman Ron Eibensteiner charged with four counts of aiding and abetting illegal campaign contributions from the American Bankers Insurance Co., a Florida insurance company, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Nina Perales v. Tom DeLay

Sunday's Fort Worth Star-Telegram offers a good picture (both in words and pixels) of my friend Nina Perales. Nina is regional counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the lead lawyer for the plaintiffs in the GI Forum suit against the Texas re-redistricting.

(Nina and I are also on opposite sides of the Arizona redistricting case.)

Is it unconstitutional to re-redistrict?

Rick Hasen has a thoughtful post on the wisdom and constitutionality of re-redistricting (not necessarily the same thing, you know). I highly recommend it for your consideration. I'm still thinking about the topic. Being on the short end of the stick tends to color one's perceptions of what is necessary.

Arizona GOP wants the money

The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission is still seeking additional funding -- on top of the $6 million it has already spent. The GOP is variously trying complaints of bias and the old "pay us now or pay them later" argument:

GOP leaders are now pressing hard on the issue. Congressmen Jim Kolbe and Jeff Flake -- who could challenge Napolitano in the 2006 governor's race -- criticized the governor earlier Monday for not moving on the issue.

Kolbe wrote Napolitano prior to her inclusion of the commission funds issue, saying he was dismayed by her lack of action on the matter.

"Your unwillingness to take the simple action needed to resolve this problem suggests a raw, partisan approach that is unworthy of you as governor of this state," said Kolbe in the tersely worded letter. "The fact that your former law firm is representing the litigants in this case further calls into question whether your actions are in the interests of the citizens of Arizona."

Napolitano worked for the law firm of Lewis & Roca before being appointed U.S. Attorney by former president Bill Clinton in 1993. The commission faces a lawsuit from Democratic activists who do not like the way it drew legislative and congressional districts in 2002. The GOP holds a majority seats in the Arizona Legislature and eight of the state's 10 congressional seats.

"GOP presses Napolitano on redistricting commission funding" in The Business Journal of Phoenix.

Senate Majority Whip Marilyn Jarrett, R-Mesa, acknowledged Napolitano said she is concerned about giving the commission up to an additional $4.2 million. That is on top of the original $6 million the commission was given by voters in 2000 to draw the maps.

But Jarrett said if the commission is unable to defend its decisions in court, that means the challengers win -- and will be entitled to demand their millions in legal fees from the state. And that, she said, could prove far more expensive to taxpayers.

"Redistricting chair to press Napolitano for cash" in Arizona Daily Sun.

The Arizona Capitol Times also reports that the Commission chair has sought an attorney general's opinion:

In related legal action, Steve Lynn, chairman of the Independent Redistricting Commission, on Oct. 23 requested a formal opinion from the Arizona attorney general on whether the commission can incur or authorize any “obligation in excess of the commission’s remaining current appropriation in anticipation of [an] additional appropriation.”

Mr. Lynn also asked, “Am I subject to personal liability (plus possible additional monetary penalties) or criminal prosecution for incurring, authorizing, ordering, or voting for incurrence of any obligation or expenditures in excess of the commission’s remaining current appropriation?

“I want the commission to be able to defend its work in court and am prepared to authorize the necessary expenditures if legally permitted to do so,” Mr. Lynn wrote in his request for an attorney general’s opinion. “A stay of the trial court proceedings has been denied by both the trial court judge and a justice of the Arizona Supreme Court. Accordingly, it is crucial that I receive your answers to these questions immediately. Even brief written answers with a more detailed analysis to follow at your convenience would be most appreciated under the circumstances.”

(Disclosure: I represent the plaintiffs in the suit against the Independent Redistricting Commission over its Congressional plan.)

October 24, 2003

Arizona IRC still seeking money

Here are several stories from yesterday's papers about the plight of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.

Redistricting panel has no funds to fight challenge Tucson Citizen, AZ - Oct 23, 2003

Redistricting trial
Arizona Daily Sun, AZ - Oct 23, 2003

Phoenix lawyer getting nod from Bush for federal bench
Arizona Republic, AZ - Oct 23, 2003 (Neil Vincent Wake, one of the attorneys for Republican intervenors in the cases, has been nominated for the US District Court.)

Redistricting panel faces audit, trial
Arizona Republic, AZ - Oct 23, 2003

(Disclosure: I represent the plaintiffs in the suit against the Independent Redistricting Commission over its Congressional plan.)

Blogging will be light for a few days

... because I am moving my office this weekend.

Thanks to those who have sent me news stories and documents lately. I will get those up as soon as I can.

October 22, 2003

Albany County elections on hold

The Albany (NY) Times Union reports,

On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Norman Mordue approved a redrawn map for the [Albany County] legislature's 39 districts based on the 2000 census. His decision followed legal battles that began in April, when Arbor Hill Concerned Citizens and the Albany NAACP challenged the county's first redistricting plan as unfair to minorities.

The plan approved by Mordue includes four districts where minority voters have the voting strength to elect candidates of their choice. The legislature's original map had three such districts.

But Mordue refused to schedule special elections this year under the lines. He said the County Charter and state Election and Public Officers laws seem to allow the 39 legislators to hold over in office an extra year.

Republicans, who are outnumbered 27-12 by Democrats in the legislature, don't like the prospect of running in elections next year and governance by a holdover legislature.

"It's a good thing for the Democrats," said Graziano. "They're being rewarded for trying to pull a fast one."

Texas Democrats get money from members of Congress

The Dallas Morning News

Since the redistricting issue exploded last spring, Texas Democrats in Congress have sent more than $230,000 to the state party and a political fund for state lawmakers.

Some of the funds have been used to rally public opposition to the redistricting effort, party leaders said, while much of it has been set aside to help re-elect Democrats in the Texas House who managed to delay the process by hiding out in Oklahoma.

Quarterly financial reports filed by last week show that 13 of the state's 17 incumbent Democrats donated a total of $141,000 from their campaign funds to the state Democratic Party, ranging from $5,000 from Reps. Nick Lampson of Beaumont and Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston to $50,000 from Rep. Martin Frost of Arlington, dean of the delegation.

The reports also show that nine of the Democrats sent checks totaling $91,200 to MPACT, formed this year as a counterbalance to various GOP political action committees. The bulk came from three congressmen who each gave $25,000: Mr. Green, Chet Edwards of Waco and Rubén Hinojosa of Mercedes.

2 DOJ lawyers recused in Texas redistricting submission

The Dallas Morning News reported yesterday,

Two top Justice Department lawyers have recused themselves from the pre-clearance review of Texas' new congressional districts, spokesman Jorge Martinez said Tuesday.

The officials are R. Alexander Acosta, the first Hispanic to lead the Civil Rights Division, and the division's No. 2 lawyer, J. Michael Wiggins. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund honored Mr. Acosta in June for his role in implementing a Clinton-era executive order to help people with limited English skills get access to federal programs; MALDEF is one of the groups challenging the Texas redistricting plan.

A lawyer for Democrats in the redistricting cases, Gerald Hebert, said he's concerned that the next lawyer in line to review the legality of the Texas plan was on the GOP's presidential recount team in Florida. "Frankly, I think the whole Justice Department should be disqualified," Mr. Hebert said, and the matter left in the hand of federal judges.

Montana suit over pairing of incumbent senators

AP reports (and here) on a suit brought by three Democratic Senators in Montana and the refusal of the Attorney General to represent the Districting and Apportionment Commission in the suit.

Three Democratic state senators are asking a district judge here to strike down a 2003 law that gives the Legislature power to assign midterm senators to new districts next year.

Sens. Ken "Kim" Hansen of Harlem, Jon Tester of Big Sandy and Mike Wheat of Bozeman filed suit in District Court against Secretary of State Bob Brown, a Republican and the state’s chief election officer, to overturn the assignments passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature earlier this year.

Although the 100 state representatives are elected every two years, the 50 state senators are elected to staggered four-year terms, with half facing election every two years.

Under the Legislature’s plan, six of the 25 holdover senators, including the three plaintiffs, were assigned to different districts than the commission assigned. Four of the six senators assigned to different districts were Democrats, while two were Republicans.

If anyone has a copy of the complaint, please email it to me or email me for instructions on where to fax it. The email address is in the upper right corner of the page.

Arizona redistricting trial still on

AP reports,

A state Supreme Court justice on Wednesday refused to delay the scheduled Nov. 12 start of a trial on Arizona's new congressional and legislative district maps.

Opponents of the new maps had argued that voters' rights would be impinged by a delay in the trial, but the Independent Redistricting Commission has said starting the trial on schedule would be a "farce" because it could not afford to put on a defense.

Justice Andrew Hurwitz denied a request by the commission to block the start of the trial scheduled in Maricopa County Superior Court. He issued a brief order one day after holding a hearing on the request.

The commission wanted the trial delayed until the Supreme Court rules on the commission's still-pending lawsuit asking for an order to compel state officials to let the commission continue spending.

The commission has used up all but $75,000 of its $6 million appropriation.

A copy of the order is here.

(Disclosure: I represent the plaintiffs in the suit against the Independent Redistricting Commission over its Congressional plan.)

FEC opposes the fax ban

The Hill reports

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is clashing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over fining political candidates and committees that use faxes to send invitations to fundraising events.

Under new regulations finalized in July by the FCC, the candidates and committees would be subject to heavy fines for sending invitations to fundraising events and other solicitations by fax — a practice that has become standard among political fundraisers.

Now the FEC has urged the FCC to exempt candidates, political action committees (PACs) and national fundraising committees from the regulations.

Lawmakers send the bulk of their fundraising invitations by fax, which is quicker and cheaper than regular mail and more formal than e-mail.

October 20, 2003

Senate rules on campaign reports slow disclosures

The Arizona Republic has an article today on the Senate's rules requiring paper reports on campaign finance.

Campaign committees use computer spreadsheets to keep track of donations and expenditures. But because the Senate prohibits what otherwise could be filing reports with the click of a mouse, the campaigns submit paper to the Secretary of the Senate's Office.

In the 2001-02 election cycle, filings from nearly 600 candidates' committees totaled a little more than 400,000 pages, Federal Election Commission spokesman Bob Biersack said.

If piled in a single stack, the paperwork would reach a height of 133 feet.

As the paper pours in to the secretary's office, employees run each sheet through a scanner to create page-by-page computer images, but not a sortable database. Then they transmit the data overnight to the FEC.

Election commission personnel promptly print out the whole batch, creating a second 133-foot stack. They check the math, add some coding by hand and make a second set of copies to send out of the building.

That set is delivered to a private contractor in Virginia to retype the information, at 24 cents per entry, into still another computer format, Biersack said.

Finally, one to four weeks after each filing deadline, an electronic file is returned by the data-entry firm for posting on the FEC Web site. Even then, the entries are difficult to sort and contain no details on expenditures.

Texas suit 3

You can download the GI Forum's suit against the Texas re-redistricting plan.

Thanks to Nina Perales for sending the complaint.

October 19, 2003

Monthly giving to the Dems

Today's New York Times reports,

A number of Democratic presidential candidates have started monthly contribution plans as part of their Internet fund-raising strategies, attracting donations that while modest — $10 or $50 — are given repeatedly.

"It's the same theory that goes behind the late-night infomercials," said Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that analyzes campaign finance. "Buy the abs machine for $29.99 for six months! It's much easier to do that than to say that the machine will cost you $180. That is just part of marketing."


These subscription plans are partly a result of supporters' requests, but they fit into a Democratic Party effort to build a base of small regular donors to match the one that the Republicans have accumulated over the years.

They also reflect evolving fund-raising strategies in response to the new campaign finance regulations, currently under review by the Supreme Court, that have put the emphasis on "hard money," or individual contributions that are capped at $2,000. Only the first $250 of an individual donation is matched by federal funds.

October 17, 2003

Alabama amicus brief in Vieth v Jubelirer

A group of Alabama officeholders have filed an amicus brief supporting the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in Vieth v Jubelirer. You may download the file here.

Jerome "Buddy" Cooper, RIP

Buddy Cooper, a Birmingham lawyer, died Tuesday at the age of 90. He was a labor lawyer, but he earns a mention in this journal because he was one of the attorneys in Reynolds v. Sims. I met him a few times over the years; he was invariably helpful to me and happy with being a lawyer. He will be missed. Here is the Birmimgham News story on his life and death.

October 16, 2003

Texas Complaint #2

Here is a Word file with the complaint filed in Eastern District of Texas against the re-redistricing.

Thanks to Richard Gladden for sending it to me.

Public Citizen wants FEC investigation of Freddie Mac lobbyist

Public Citizen has this on its website:

Public Citizen today filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) urging the agency to conduct an immediate investigation into apparent violations of contribution limits, a ban on corporate campaign contributions and reporting requirements by Freddie Mac’s chief lobbyist, Mitch Delk, and the fundraising firm Epiphany Productions Inc.

The article that prompted this complaint was mentioned in an earlier post by me.

Thanks to Alfredo Garcia for the link.

Arizona governor balks at redistricting commission attorneys' fees

The Arizona Republic reports,

Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano, a strong supporter of a voter-approved independent commission created to draw Arizona's political boundaries, now is balking at its $4 million request to defend its maps in court.

Her actions have ignited opposition at the Capitol from state and congressional Republicans, who say the new maps favor their candidates.

Critics say Napolitano is playing partisan politics by ignoring the will of Arizona voters who approved the initiative in 2000. Napolitano said she wants to review the $2.4 million in legal fees that the Independent Redistricting Commission has rung up over the past few years before approving more taxpayer money.

The Arizona Daily Sun reports,

The Independent Redistricting Commission is going to the Supreme Court today to force the state to give it more money.
(Disclosure: I represent the plaintiffs in the suit against the Independent Redistricting Commission over its Congressional plan.)

October 15, 2003

An open primary for California?

AP reports,

Proposing a variety of government reforms Wednesday, state Controller Steve Westly echoed some of the same themes as Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger, which analysts said could be a sign of a budding power play by political moderates.

Westly's proposed reforms to "get California back on track" include redrawing legislative districts to make them more competitive -- also a Schwarzenegger proposal -- and restoring the open primary to fix the electoral system.

"We have a log jam in Sacramento," Westly said. "We need to break that. I get it."

Democratic and Republican moderates have favored such electoral reforms, said University of California, Berkeley political scientist Bruce Cain. He called them a "power play by the middle to increase representation and power in the middle."

That, Cain said, "would benefit Steve Westly because he is a moderate Democrat and Schwarzenegger because he is a moderate Republican."

Texas suits popping up like mushrooms

The Dallas Fort-Worth Star Telegram reports that there are now three suits pending against the re-redistricting plan:

The American GI Forum, a non-profit organization that promotes Hispanic issues, filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday to block the new congressional redistricting plan from being used in the 2004 election.

The lawsuit filed at the federal courthouse in Victoria is the third action taken this week to derail the redistricting plan signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry on Monday. The lawsuit alleges that the plan would undermine Hispanic voting rights in Texas.

"The newly enacted congressional redistricting plan for Texas does not accurately reflect Latino voting strength in the year 2003," said Nina Perales, an attorney for the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, which is representing the GI Forum.

"Although the new redistricting plan purports to create an additional Latino majority district in South Texas, in fact it eliminates one district and adds another, with no net increase in electoral opportunity."

The GI Forum suit is similar to two other federal court actions filed by Democrats in East Texas against the redistricting the plan enacted by the Republican-dominated Legislature over the weekend.

Meanwhile, Denton lawyer Richard Gladden filed a federal lawsuit in the eastern district on behalf of several residents of Cherokee County, challenging the Legislature's ability to take up redistricting in mid-decade.

"It is our contention that congressional redistricting should take place no more than once after each census," Gladden said. "And in this case, that one time occurred when the three federal judges drew the plan we have now in 2001."

Lest you think these are alls peas in the same pod, take a look at this from the Dallas Morning News:

The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, in a suit on behalf of the American G.I. Forum of Texas, said the remap effort unfairly diminishes Hispanic voting strength. It said the new configuration should have carved out a winnable congressional district for Hispanics in Dallas, plus one more in South Texas.

"Latinos now are more numerous than blacks or whites in Dallas," said Nina Perales, regional counsel for MALDEF and the lead lawyer for the G.I. Forum, a group of Mexican-American veterans. "We are the plurality population, but we don't have a congressional district."

Both Ms. Perales and senior Democrats in the state's congressional delegation said Republicans who drew the new map improperly shifted minority voters who now control the district represented by Rep. Martin Frost, D-Arlington, into neighboring districts where they will have little impact on the outcome.

In addition, the Democrats and MALDEF cited another flaw in the Republican-backed redistricting plan – counting as a Hispanic seat the one held by Rep. Henry Bonilla, R-San Antonio, whose new district would be controlled by whites.

"It was an incumbency concern because Henry Bonilla is increasingly fragile in a district that's increasingly Latino," Ms. Perales said.

She broke ranks with Democrats, however, in applauding the new map's reduction of Hispanic population in the South Texas districts of Reps. Ruben Hinojosa, D-Mercedes; Solomon Ortiz, D-Corpus Christi, and Ciro Rodriguez, D-San Antonio.

Last week, Mr. Frost said having fewer Hispanics in the three districts put them "at risk" of being lost to a nonminority candidate.

But Ms. Perales said "those districts are packed right now, the way the Democrats like them. We'd like to unpack them so we can have a seventh, effective Latino district in South Texas. That was our position in 2001, and that's still our position."

If anyone has a copy of the Denton suit, email it to me or email me for instructions on where to fax it. The email address is in the upper right corner of the page.

Texas Dems' motion against re-redistricting

Here is the "Motion to Prohibit Modification or Termination of Injunction" filed by the Texas Democrats. Warning: this is a 42 page PDF.

Thanks to Gerry Hebert for sending it to me.

October 14, 2003

Dean may opt out of public financing

AP reports,

Presidential hopeful and prolific Internet fund-raiser Howard Dean is taking another step toward possibly becoming the first Democrat to opt out of public financing. Newcomer Wesley Clark's campaign said Monday that he also is weighing whether to skip it.

In the latest sign Dean may forego public campaign money and the accompanying spending limits, the former Vermont governor has begun gathering signatures to get on the North Carolina primary ballot.

Candidates who accept public financing automatically qualify for a spot on the state's ballot; those who do not must collect at least 10,000 signatures from party members in the state, said Don Wright, a state Board of Elections spokesman.

Dean spokeswoman Tricia Enright said Dean hasn't decided whether he will skip public financing. In the meantime, he is keeping his options open, she said.

"I think that's probably a pragmatic course of action," Enright said Monday.

Thanks to Taegan Goddard's Political Wire for the link.

When will women vote in Saudi Arabia?

The Financial Times has an
article in tomorrow's paper about demonstrations in Saudi Arabia for greater freedom of expression.

The attempt to hold a public rally was another reminder to the regime of rising frustrations. In an apparent bid to ease domestic strains and respond to outside pressure, the cabinet said on Monday that procedures would be in place within a year to elect half the members of the country's 14 municipal councils whose role in running local affairs will now be revived.

The move, though limited, was the first manifestation of the wider political participation promised by Crown Prince Abdullah. But members of the Shura Council, the appointed advisory assembly, were yesterday quoted as saying it was unlikely women would be allowed to participate.

"The municipal elections are a very first step in a long process of reform," said Sulaiman al-Hattlan, a Saudi political analyst and research fellow at Harvard University. With other Gulf states allowing women to vote, Saudi Arabia should do the same in its first election, he added. "Do we have to wait for 30 years to give women the right to vote? Why not start where our neighbours are now?"

Arizona Redistricting Commission nearly broke

The Arizona Capitol Times and AP report,

A commission created by Arizona voters three years ago to draw new political boundaries for the state has used up nearly all its $6 million appropriation and may file a lawsuit to get more money from the state treasury.

The Independent Redistricting Commission voted unanimously Oct. 8 to authorize its lawyers to file a special-action petition with the Arizona Supreme Court to demand that Treasurer David Petersen and other state officials provide extra money to cover the commission’s upcoming expenses.

Governor Napolitano and top legislative leaders have been approached about a possible supplemental appropriation, commission Chairman Steve Lynn said. “So far the answer has been ‘no.’”

The lawsuit will be filed next week if Mr. Petersen and other officials refuse to provide the additional money to pay for the commission’s constitutional duties even without an appropriation by the Legislature, commission officials said.

(Disclosure: I represent the plaintiffs in the suit against the Independent Redistricting Commission over its Congressional plan.)

Texas: Here come the suits

The Houston Chronicle reported this morning,

Democrats filed a motion in federal court seeking to prohibit the state from implementing the new Republican-backed congressional redistricting map, attorney Gerry Hebert said today.

The motion, filed in federal court in Tyler on Sunday night, alleges that the map is illegal, Hebert said.

Democratic lawmakers have argued that the map violates the voting rights of minorities.

The motion was filed in Tyler because that court in 2001 drew the congressional redistricting map that is now in effect, Hebert said.

"We think that any proposal to change the court's map ought to be dealt with by that court," said Hebert, who represents Democrats in the Texas Legislature and Texas' congressional delegation.

One of MALDEF's attorneys has told me that they "filed our complaint this afternoon." I hope to have a copy of both motions/suits soon.

October 13, 2003

Texas re-redistricting now signed

KXAN-TV in Austin reports Gov. Perry signed the re-redistricting bill late Monday. AP reports,

The Democrats lost their six-month legislative battle to stop the redrawing of congressional district lines when the Texas House and Senate approved a map over the weekend that will likely give Republicans a solid majority in the state's 32-member delegation.

But the Democrats aren't finished just yet.

They plan to file another lawsuit in hopes of preventing the GOP congressional map from taking effect for the 2004 election. They contend the Republican plan disenfranchises minority and rural voters all over the state.

By splitting Webb County, where Laredo is located, thus cutting from one district tens of thousands of South Texans living along the Mexico border, the Republicans have turned a previously Hispanic district into a non-minority district, Democrats say.

Burnt Orange at Political State Report has a roundup of the stories reporting on the Senate passage of the bill.

October 12, 2003

Center for American Progress

The New York Times Magazine has a long article today on the formation of the Center for American Progress. Here's a bit of the article:

Podesta laid out his plan for what he likes to call a ''think tank on steroids.'' Emulating those conservative institutions, he said, a message-oriented war room will send out a daily briefing to refute the positions and arguments of the right. An aggressive media department will book liberal thinkers on cable TV. There will be an ''edgy'' Web site and a policy shop to formulate strong positions on foreign and domestic issues. In addition, Podesta explained how he would recruit hundreds of fellows and scholars -- some in residence and others spread around the country -- to research and promote new progressive policy ideas. American Progress is slated to operate with a $10 million budget next year, raised from big donors like the financier George Soros.

''The question I'm asked most often is, When are we getting our eight words?'' Podesta said. Conservatives, he went on, ''have their eight words in a bumper sticker: 'Less government. Lower taxes. Less welfare. And so on.' Where's our eight-word bumper sticker? Well, it's harder for us, because we believe in a lot more things.'' The Center for American Progress, Podesta said, was concerned with articulating these principles carefully, over time, rather than rushing out an agenda to help win an election in 2004. ''We're trying to build an idea base for the longer term,'' he said, to bring about ''an enduring progressive majority.''

Podesta also says that the Center will have an "edgy" website. Right now the Center has one page up, with a promise of more on 20 October. I hope the "more" includes some "edginess."

(Unless George Soros is putting $10 million into two liberal think tanks, this is what was formerly to be called the American Majority Institute.)

Arizona GOP to raise money to defend the current redistricting plans

The Arizona Republic reports today that the Republican Congressmen are planning on raising money to defend the current congressional districting plan. I noted here that the Independent Redistricting Commission is running out of money. Notice that the GOP is raising money for its own lawyers rather than contributing to the cost of the IRC lawyers.

(Disclosure: I represent the plaintiffs in the suit against the Independent Redistricting Commission over its Congressional plan.)

October 11, 2003

Is that a light or a train in the tunnel?

The Dallas Morning News reports,

The House and Senate are to meet Sunday in what could be the eagerly awaited redistricting finale in the Legislature.

After many played hooky to witness a disappointing defeat for the University of Texas in Saturday's Texas-OU game, House members planned to get back to work Sunday afternoon.

There is optimism, if not pure confidence, that the House will have a quorum to meet and give final approval to a government reorganization bill, said Bob Richter, spokesman for House Speaker Tom Craddick.

If not, Senate GOP leaders could continue to delay acting on the long-awaited GOP plan to redraw congressional districts to give them as many as seven more seats as soon as next year.

"The fear is if the Senate monkeys around and doesn't pass this thing, you take a chance on a filibuster or a Senate walkout," Mr. Richter said. "You have to expect the unexpected at this point."

The special session ends Tuesday.

North Carolina still working on redistricting

AP reports on redistricting in the North Carolina legislature,

State lawmakers are quietly putting together competing proposals for new legislative districts, but substantial negotiations remain before they begin a special session to approve the plans.

House and Senate leaders expect to bring legislators back to the state capital in mid-November to begin considering new legislative maps. But lawmakers said this week that they are nowhere near putting together proposals likely to pass.

State lawmakers are drawing new districts for the third time in as many years, as the state's courts ruled two other sets of maps were unconstitutional.

The state Supreme Court found that earlier maps split counties, creating unwieldy gerrymandered districts intended to benefit incumbents.

The rulings upheld the decision of Johnston County Superior Court Judge Knox Jenkins. He ordered legislative elections held last year using temporary maps, which he approved.

The Rocky Mount Telegram covers the same story from a different angle. This one includes a proposal by Robinson Everett (the lawyer behind Shaw v. Reno) to "Stick to the traditional principals of redistricting – neutrality to race and party." Robinson wants some neutral panel to draw the plan, rather than the legislature.

October 10, 2003

A blog about blogs

Johns Hopkins University Department of Communication in the Contemporary Society has started the CampaignsOnline Blog:

The mission of the project is to promote improvements and understanding in the usage of the Internet and emerging technologies in political campaigns.

The blog will highlight the use of technology in the 2004 Presidential campaign as well as other state and local campaigns.

Texas: almost time for the lawyers

The "fair and balanced" Texas redistricting plan has passed the House and awaits action in the Senate. The Dallas Morning News reports on the groups lining up to bring suit against the plan.

Months of legislating may end up just a pre-game blink when congressional redistricting moves to the next arena, where lawyers control the game and the match may last for years.

Democrats and minorities say they will be filing lawsuits next week, as soon as possible after Gov. Rick Perry signs into law a plan designed to add six or seven Texas Republican seats to Congress. The bill that redraws congressional boundaries passed the House on Friday and was pending in the Senate.

When (not if) the case is filed, a much-sought-after witness may be Joby Fortson, legislative counsel to U.S. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.). According to tomorrow's Washington Post:

"This is the most aggressive map I have ever seen," Joby Fortson wrote in the analysis, which he e-mailed to congressional aides. "This has a real national impact that should assure that Republicans keep the House no matter the national mood."

Fortson predicted that Texas Republicans would pick up six to seven new House seats in next year's congressional elections if the plan withstands the expected legal challenge by Democrats. His analysis tracks closely with an analysis by the staff of U.S. Rep. Martin Frost (D-Tex.), which said the new district lines would endanger the reelection chances of at least seven Democratic incumbents.

It is not known whether Fortson played any role in drafting the redistricting plan, but his views about its probable impact closely parallel those of Democratic and independent political analysts.

Referring to new districts that would stretch from around the state capital of Austin to the border with Mexico, Fortson said they were "part of the voting rights protection element" in the plan. The districts are designed to be dominated by minority voters even as Republicans would make gains elsewhere.

Fortson appeared to take special delight in writing about what he predicted would be the fate of two Texas Democrats, Frost and Rep. Lloyd Doggett. "Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha . . .," he wrote before describing how the plan would affect their districts.

Discussing Frost's district, which runs between Fort Worth and Dallas, Fortson said, "It simply disappears." He said black voters in Fort Worth would be shifted into a Republican-dominated district, black voters in Dallas would be sent to a nearby district that is already heavily black, and Hispanic voters would be moved into another GOP district.

"This is the D's best legal challenge as inner city Fort Worth will now be outnumbered in a Republican suburban district," Fortson wrote. However, he added, because the plan would also create a new African American district in Houston, it should withstand a challenge under the Voting Rights Act.

OK, everybody get your game face on.

Graham, the FEC, and the Parrotheads

Here's a cautionary tale. While I first saw this in the St. Petersburg Times, Jim Defede in the Miami Herald tells the story a bit better. Sen. Bob Graham was hoping to raise about a million for his presidential campaign with a Jimmy Buffett concert.

So what went wrong?

It probably won't come as a big surprise to folks that Buffett fans have a laid-back view of life and a healthy distrust of authority. Unfortunately, those traits don't mesh well with campaign finance law.

When Graham's staff told Buffett's staff that concert-goers were also technically campaign donors and therefore would be required to fill out forms listing their name, address and occupation, the Buffett camp became very nervous.

''They said it would offend the Buffett fan base,'' Johnson said.

Or, as that Texan would say: "When you try to stick the square peg of FEC regs into the round hole of Parrotheads, somebody's gonna squawk."

Passing the cup

The Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission has spent about $5,925,000 of its $6,000,00 appropriation and still has to go to trial on four claims against its legislative and congressional plans. The Commission has been trying to get somebody in state government to give it more money. Today, AP reported,

State Treasurer David Petersen on Thursday turned down the nearly broke Independent Redistricting Commission's request for more money, saying he doesn't have the authority to provide it. Petersen's refusal, based on legal advice from the Attorney General's Office, is expected to prompt the commission to file a lawsuit asking the Arizona Supreme Court to order Petersen and other state officials to provide additional money.

The commission on Wednesday authorized its lawyers to file the special-action lawsuit if Petersen and other officials turned down the funding request.

Still facing court challenges to new congressional and legislative district maps it drew, the commission has used up all but $75,000 of the $6 million appropriation authorized in a constitutional amendment approved by Arizona voters in 2000.

(Disclosure: I represent the plaintiffs in the suit against the Independent Redistricting Commission over its Congressional plan.)

Clark gives up paid speeches

The Boston globe reported today that Gen. Clark will no longer accepted paid speaking arrangements.

Clark spokesman Mark Fabiani ... still contended the speeches were legal, "based on our review of the FEC guidelines." But he said that "to avoid any distraction from the real issues that matter to Americans," Clark would return the payments for those speeches and no longer deliver speeches for pay.

General Clark has decided to return the payments from these speeches," and would no longer deliver speeches for pay.

(Disclosure: I now provide legal advise about campaign finance laws to an independent group supporting Gen. Clark's candidacy.)

Texas map unveiled

The Texas GOP released their new map yesterday, claiming that they could win up to 7 more seats under the plan. Here's a quick roundup of the stories:

Dallas Morning News:
Republicans savoring new congressional map

AP: Democrats in Congress unhappy with redistricting

AP: DeLay key to ending redistricting battle

Amarillo Globe-News: Panhandle legislators not happy with new map; Redistricting plan affects Deaf Smith County

Fort Worth Star Telegram: West Texans evaluate map's potential impact

Fort Worth Star Telegram: GOP unveils new map;
Plan threatens 7 Democrats; Texas to miss Super Tuesday

Fort Worth Star Telegram: Frost's Metroplex district split 5 ways;
If legal options fail, popular local Democrat says he has 'five choices' for re-election [I suppose he also thinks there's a pony under all that s**t]

Harlingen Valley Morning Star: New map heads to Legislature; Agency [MALDEF] may contest plan if it interferes with Latinos’ choices

San Antonio Express-News: Radical remapping skips most of Bexar

San Antonio Express-News: Redistrict fight isn't over yet

San Antonio Express-News: Midland bigwigs eye new seat

October 8, 2003

Virginia to audit voting sites for handicap accessibility

The Virginian Pilot reports,

The State Board of Elections is moving to ensure that handicapped Virginians are not denied a basic tenet of a democracy: Their vote.

The board has contracted with the Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services to do a handicapped-accessibility audit of every voting precinct in the state. The audits will be finished in 2006.

In Richmond alone, the capital city's electoral board found that 20 of 71 precincts did not meet federal standards, but 19 could be easily upgraded, said Jean Jensen, secretary of the State Board of Elections. The other precinct will have to be moved, she said.

DeLay's role in Texas

This story from the El Paso Times is out of date now, except for this quote:

"DeLay's ultra-partisanship is the latest proof that when you want to force the square peg of tyranny into the round hole of democracy, you need a Hammer," said Kelly Fero, a Democratic consultant.

I read that and thought that it was parody of somebody trying to sound profound. Oh, well.

"Round hole of democracy." Is that what Texas is?

Texas: agreement in principle

San Antonio Express reports,

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said this afternoon that House and Senate negotiators had reached an “agreement in principle” on a bitterly contested congressional redistricting plan.

Neither Dewhurst nor Sen. Todd Staples, R-Palestine, the author of the Senate’s plan, would divulge specifics. They said details and a map outlining the 32 newly drawn districts would be released Thursday.

“I believe we have made huge progress, that we have an agreement in principle,” Dewhurst said. “We still have some ... details to work out.”

He said a vexing problem on West Texas had apparently been resolved, but would not say how.

It was not immediately clear whether GOP leaders of the House, who have been locked in a weeks-long dispute with the Senate over the configuration of a West Texas district, had signed off on the deal.

House Speaker Tom Craddick's spokesman said in response to Dewhurst's announcement that an agreement “was close” but that House leaders had not yet seen any map, and would not be in position to concur that an agreement was sealed until they studied the Senate plan.

New York PAC law

Steven H. Sholk's article, "A Guide to New York Corporate Political Action Committees," has been published in the October 2003 issue of The Exempt Organization Tax Review. Thanks to Sholk and the Review, you can download a typescript of the article here.

October 7, 2003

Clark needs better campaign advice

Whoops. The Washington Post will report in tomorrow's paper,

Retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark may have violated federal election laws by discussing his presidential campaign during recent paid appearances, according to campaign finance experts.

Clark, a newcomer to presidential politics, touted his candidacy during paid appearances at DePauw University in Indiana and other campuses after he entered the presidential race on Sept. 17. Under the laws governing the financing of presidential campaigns, candidates cannot be paid by corporations, labor unions, individuals or even universities for campaign-related events. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) considers such paid political appearances akin to a financial contribution to a candidate.

Clark is getting paid as much as $30,000 for speeches, according to people familiar with his arrangement. He has two more scheduled for next week.

Clark, like any other candidate, would likely be permitted to deliver the paid speeches only if they did not "expressly" cover his campaign or his political opponents, the experts said.

But in his speeches, Clark has talked about his campaign positions and criticized President Bush's policies. At DePauw, during a question-and-answer session after the speech, Clark "absolutely" covered his political views on everything from education to the economy, said Ken Bode, a visiting professor of journalism who moderated the session.

Well, you say, Clark is probably just running a seat-of-the-pants campaign. Nope. According to the Post, one of the people working for him is "Brad Litchfield, who helped draft the 1992 FEC advisory opinion" saying that David Duke could not make paid appearances like those Clark has made.

Texas: DeLay and delay

AP reports,

U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was in the Texas Capitol for a second consecutive day Tuesday, attempting to broker an agreement between state lawmakers squabbling over a congressional redistricting map.

With Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, House Speaker Tom Craddick and Gov. Rick Perry out of town, DeLay and other lawmakers indicated that negotiators were making progress on a map that would put more Republicans in the Texas congressional delegation.

"We are very, very close," DeLay said, leaving a morning meeting in Dewhurst's office. "The lieutenant governor has laid out some very interesting maps and we're almost there."

But late Tuesday night Sen. Todd Staples, R-Palestine, said negotiations had stalled once again. He said negotiations would continue Wednesday morning.

Report on Instant Runoff Voting

Marketplace Morning Report, the business report from Minnesota Public Radio, had a segment on Instant Runoff Voting this morning. You may listen to it here (Real Player required).

October 6, 2003

Should the Scots vote on English laws?

The Scotsman reports:

SENIOR Tories launched a concerted attack on what they described as "the unfinished business of devolution" yesterday - Tony Blair’s use of Scottish MPs to push through legislation designed solely for England.

Liam Fox, the party’s health spokesman, and David McLetchie, the Scottish party leader, used the Tory conference in Blackpool as a platform to insist on a change in the rules to prevent Scottish MPs from deciding English laws.

Mr Blair had to rely on the votes of Scottish Labour MPs to drive through his plans for foundation hospitals earlier this year, despite the fact that the policy was not being pursued in Scotland.

Mr McLetchie said the only way the problem could be resolved would be to change the rules governing the voting rights of Scottish MPs in the House of Commons.

He said "English votes for English laws" would solve the problem, preventing Scottish MPs from voting on English domestic issues which are decided for Scotland by the Scottish Parliament.

Texas doldrums

Will the Texas GOP make the state irrelevant in the selection of the Democratic presidential politics? Looks likely, according to Dallas Morning News columnist Gromer Jeffers Jr.

Meanwhile, Tom DeLay actually showed up in Texas to stir the re-redistricting pot, according to another DMN story:

U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay attempted an in-person intervention in the Texas redistricting standoff Monday, shuttling between state House and Senate offices in an attempt to break a GOP logjam over congressional maps.

"There's progress being made. People are working together," said Mr. DeLay, R-Sugar Land, the U.S. House majority leader and the leading backer of a plan to boost the Texas Republican congressional delegation by five or six seats. "We're close. ... It's just working out the specifics."

Candidates' websites has a table analyzing the features of the presidential candidates' websites. Plenty of links to the actual sites. Take a look -- these folks do good work and don't seem to have a bias of any sort.

More FAQ's from the GOP [parody]

Reform Voter Project has a few more suggested FAQ's for the Republicans:

Q: How can I be assured that the President knows I’m giving?

A: First of all, give the maximum of $2,000. Then become a Ranger (pledge to raise $200,000) or a Pioneer (pledge to raise $100,000). Also consider getting your spouse and your children to donate, especially if you have the same last name. That makes it easier.

Q: Can I write something in the memo line on the check to indicate what I want in return?

A: Please do not write bill numbers, or the number for favorable executive orders, or (if you raise a lot) your preferred ambassadorial posting in the memo line on your check. Communicate that information verbally. Please put your tracking number or the tracking number of the person who asked you for money so we can make sure a Ranger is a Ranger and a Pioneer is a Pioneer.

Q: Will you provide security outside the fundraiser so I don’t have to walk past the protestors?

A: Free speech is an essential part of the democratic process. We will ensure that those who want to speak out have a place to do it… far, far away. Please be assured, with the new tools available to Attorney General John Ashcroft through the Patriot Act, we will know who these free-speaking Americans are. And what they had for lunch.

Thanks to Brenda Wright for the link.

7 October: I corrected the title to make it clear that this is a parody and not actually from the Republican Party.

October 5, 2003

Clark raising big bucks over the Internet

The AP reports,

Wesley Clark raised more than $3.5 million in the first two weeks of his presidential race, beating some of his Democratic rivals who have been campaigning for months.

Roughly two-thirds of Clark's money was raised over the Internet, campaign spokeswoman Kym Spell said.

Clark received donations from 21,000 people, with contributions averaging $167.

The former general brought in about $250,000 a day.

The article has some predictions for several other Democratic candidates.

(Disclosure: I now advise [about campaign finance laws] an independent group supporting Gen. Clark's candidacy.)

Ohio racial gerrymandering

Jeff Wice wrote,

The Jurisdictional Statement of appellants in Parker v. Ohio was filed in the US Supreme Court on September 15. This appeal is taken from a decision of the US District Court for the Southern District of Ohio rejecting a challenge to Ohio state legislative districts. Four questions are presented (summarized):

1. whether only Supreme Court holdings, rather than circuit holdings, bind statutory three-judge district courts, precluding stare decisis commanding that district courts follow precedents of circuits in which three-judge courts convene.

2. whether VRA section 2 permits minority voters to maintain vote dilution claims when minority voters constitute less than a VAP majority, but are sufficiently large enough and are politically cohesive to otherwise elect preferred candidates with like-minded non-minority voters within the same compact geographic area.

3. whether the state redistricting board violated the 14th and 15th Amendments to the US Constitution when its majority members paid funds to the private company of a person who is also redistricting coordinator for the NAACP (in his private capacity) but on condition that the NAACP endorse the majority members redistricting plan.

4. whether the state redistricting board violated the 14th and 15th Amendments when a majority member's chief staffer admitted that 13,000 African Americans who were formerly within a Democratic-controlled district were replaced by 14,000 non-minority GOP voters to ensure a GOP victory within the same House district.

I am one of the attorneys for appellants.

Thanks for sending the doc, Jeff. By the way, I translated his fax file into a PDF, so it may be huge!

October 4, 2003

Will the Texas House meet on Yom Kippur?

The Texas House will meet on Sunday afternoon and the session might continue past sundown, the beginning of Yom Kippur. Jewish groups are objecting. See statements by the National Jewish Democratic Council and the American Jewish Committee. A friend has written me, "If I recall correctly, General Lee failed to follow his practice to give Confederate Jewish troops time off for religious observances during the Petersburg battle in 1864, not too far from Appomattox where the war was soon lost. Will Speaker Craddick follow suit?"

Minnesota GOP chairman indicted

AP reports that the Minnesota Republican Chairman Ron Eibensteiner has been indicted for election law violations:

The charges grow from a 2002 campaign contribution from Florida's American Bankers Insurance Company -- which faced steep state fines at the time -- to the Republican National State Election Committee, an affiliate of the Republican National Committee.

In May, the legislative auditor determined that the money was part of a "political strategy" by the company to get either Pawlenty or DFL nominee Roger Moe elected. The company saw the men as more favorable to its interests than Independence Party candidate Tim Penny.

The checks were routed through national groups, the report found.

But under state law, a corporation can't contribute money to promote or defeat a candidate for political office. It's also illegal for an individual to aid, abet or advise such a contribution.

In this case, Eibensteiner apparently became a focus of the grand jury because he wrote a letter, on his own stationery, thanking a lobbyist for the company for a $10,000 contribution to the national committee. Another $5,000 was contributed later.

In the letter, Eibensteiner wrote "the pressure has been put on us to raise enough money to make sure our major candidates, Norm Coleman to replace Paul Wellstone, Tim Pawlenty for Governor and John Kline to replace Bill Luther (in the new 2nd District), can win."

He continued: "Our overall budget for this year requires us to raise $7.3 million, a daunting goal. Of that amount, $1.5 million has been earmarked for a media buy to promote Tim Pawlenty for governor," adding that "we are pleased that your contribution will help us accomplish our budget goal."

Texas: no progress in re-redistricting

Am I being unreasonable to wonder why the Texas GOP has not come up with a re-redistricting map that can pass both houses during the two special sessions when the Democrats were absent? Oh well, here's the latest AP story:

Adopting new Texas congressional district lines without delaying next year's primary election seemed increasingly unlikely Saturday as a key House negotiator called the Senate's latest proposal impossible.

House and Senate negotiators are working around the clock to agree on a map that would increase the number of Republicans from Texas in Congress. Republican Gov. Rick Perry has called Monday the "drop dead date" to approve a map without affecting the state's March 2 primary.

Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, who has been the redistricting point person for the House, said the House negotiators made a "great offer" at 3 a.m. Saturday. The Senate countered with another offer later Saturday.

"I'm willing to keep negotiating, but this map couldn't get a majority in the House," King said.

King said the latest map would put two to four additional Republicans in the 32-member congressional delegation, which is now led by Democrats 17-15. The House's original map could have elected as many of six additional Republicans.

October 3, 2003

GOP vs GOP in Texas re-redistricting

The Amarillo Globe-News reports Latest proposal in redistricting creates GOP fray. In other words, the Republicans are having trouble lining up their cow pies.

October 1, 2003

Non-resident property owners voting

A reader writes, "I am looking for information regarding the States,Towns etc, that allow non-resident property owners to vote. Thank you for your assistance."

We have had a few posts on that, but does anyone have a more complete list?

Party groups don't like proposed FEC rule

The Hill reports Officials slam proposed FEC rules:

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) today will consider new regulations that campaign experts warn will make the legal landscape even more difficult for candidates and party operatives still grappling with campaign reforms Congress passed last year.

Although the proposed regulations are “classic inside baseball,” in the words of one FEC commissioner, they are of vital concern to operatives on every federal campaign because, if adopted, they would have a significant impact on races across the country.

The new proposals, which are separate from McCain-Feingold, as the 2002 campaign finance law is known, include changes that could dramatically cut down on fundraising trips that party leaders such as House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) or icons such as Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) take to help candidates, lawyers for both major parties said.

They also include complex regulations for the sale, rental and exchange of political mailing lists, which party committees view as their lifeblood. The negotiations have been private transactions in the past, but if the federal government steps in to regulate them, party officials warn it will become substantially more difficult to obtain and provide lists of fresh donors to other committees and candidates.

Moreover, some say it would open the floodgates to government interference in campaigns and political spending.

The FEC website does not have the agenda for today's meeting, but you can view my post on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.