It ain't over in FitzWalkerStan.
Yes, we had an election using those shiny new Republican-favoring districts that were secretly created and rammed through a Republican dominated State Legislature and quickly signed into law by Gov. Scott Walker. And we saw what all those districts did: enable Republicans to dominate both houses of our State Legislature and most seats in Congress despite Democrats receiving far more votes throughout the states. It was also seen in the Congressional elections across the country as gerrymandered states produced a House of Representatives that didn't reflect the the true will of the people and allowed Republicans to remain in control. And now, they want to take that gerrymandering national so they can elect a President by Gerrymander.
We're not done in Wisconsin, though. The 3 judge panel that allowed Republicans to keep their ill gotten redistricting gains (with the exception of 1 district line which diluted the Hispanic vote) hasn't closed the case, although they would like to, because Republicans have still been withholding documents pertinent to their secret redistricting.
Some Background Information
Republicans redistricted outside of the State Capitol so they could keep their plans secret by avoiding all those Sunshine Laws they hate and tend to ignore anyway. They hired Michael Best & Friedrich, a law firm well known to Wisconsinites for it's support of all things Republican. They were hired to represent not only Governor Walker, but the Republican State Legislative majorities as soon as the 2010 elections were over.
However, their reputation has been circling the drain, and they were let go by Walker after revelations that they represented a RW Supreme Court Justice for free during his ethics violation case and have received his vote on every case they brought before the State Supreme Court since. Their linkage to the secret Republican redistricting plan, being home to the off-site secret maps and plans, as well as their demand that Republicans who viewed the proposed districts sign a secrecy oath came out during the lawsuit over redistricting. The shenanigans that followed, such as refusals to turn over documents pertinent to redistricting even with a court order have continued to destroy what was left of their reputation.
Even after they coughed up the documentation (after the court issued the largest fine ever in such a case) and the court issued their ruling, additional documents that should have been released have been found by the plaintiffs in the case.
Where We Are Today
With additional records coming to light that should have been released before the ruling, plaintiffs have kept the redistricting case open. They believe that even more documents are being withheld which might alter the ruling in the redistricting case.
The 3 judge panel would like this case to be over. They would like a report by March 15 and all final motions by April 1.
With Republicans and their law firm uncooperative, plaintiffs are seeking the documents themselves by asking for access to the computers used for redistricting. Michael Best, et. al. countered by saying they would have an "internal audit", but considering their history ...
Additionally, computers under the control of Republican Legislators that were used in redistricting haven't been reviewed for documents and plaintiffs are seeking access to those, as well.
The groups have already found that the law firm for the Legislature did not turn over dozens of documents it should have.(bolding is mine)
The groups continue to review whether other documents were withheld by the firm, Michael Best & Friedrich but also hope to review computers that are not under the control of the firm, according to a document filed Friday in federal court.
Specifically, the groups want to review computers belonging to the Legislature and two other law firms involved in the litigation over redistricting -- the Troupis Law Office and Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren.
On top of the documents,
The plaintiffs said they also want an explanation for why they did not receive the records before the trial.(bolding is mine)
“Specifically, Plaintiffs are interested in receiving such explanations in order to determine whether counsel for the legislature did or did not intentionally conceal responsive documents,” the report said. “Schiff Hardin has indicated that although it will be able to provide such explanations for some of the non-produced documents, it likely will not be able to provide an explanation for all non-produced documents, beyond that certain emails simply were not located in the collection process and the attorneys involved have stated they have no recollection or knowledge regarding those particular documents.”
Because Republicans in the Legislature haven't been forthcoming, plaintiffs obtained subpoenas for access and now the Republicans, lawerless after letting go of Michael Best, et. al. (right after Democrats took control of the State Senate) have quickly lawyered up again.
Republicans approved hiring Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek just three days after the plaintiffs in the case subpoenaed officials so that they could search state computers and external hard drives. The plaintiffs want to search the computers because attorneys for the Legislature did not turn over some records in the case that they were required to. For months, the plaintiffs have been trying to ascertain why the records were not released and whether there are other records that are yet to be turned over.(bolding was mine)
Whyte Hirschboeck has already been doing work for the Legislative Technology Services Bureau, the arm of the Legislature that oversees computers and email for lawmakers. With Monday’s action, the firm will also perform work for the Senate itself, taking direction from Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau).
Hiring the firm was approved on a 3-2, party-line vote by the Senate Organization Committee.
The Republicans did not put any limits in place on how much the firm will be paid. An aide to Fitzgerald was not able to immediately provide the hourly rate the firm will be paid.
No limits on payments for the lawyers? Likely that means a prolonged fight to block the search for records as they did during the court case itself.
On Friday, the plaintiffs subpoenaed Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and others. Subpoenas were also planned for Fitzgerald and a representative of Michael Best. That prompted the Senate to hire Whyte Hirschboeck.Expensive to Taxpayers, but Profitable for the GOP
So far, the litigation has cost Wisconsin taxpayers nearly $1.9 million -- $1million to the law firm Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren to help defend the maps in court, $431,000 to Michael Best for its work drawing the maps and $443,000 to the plaintiffs for their successful challenge to the Latino districts.Legislative Computers "Missing"
You heard that right. The computers that the plaintiffs are seeking to review haven't been located.
For five months, the plaintiffs have been seeking to forensically search computers used for redistricting to find out why they did not receive documents that were supposed to be turned over to them and to learn if any other records were improperly withheld. So far, they have not been able to learn where the state computers are located, let alone search them.(bolding is mine)
Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) said he was appalled that the state had not disclosed to the plaintiffs where the computers are.
"This is public property that people pay for," he said. "The fact they won't share this information is beyond comprehension."
That's right, folks. They can't find the computers that the Legislature used for redistricting at a time when dozens of documents withheld from the courts even after a court order and fine are being uncovered.
Something is not only fishy, but stinks to high heaven.