The single best thing (and only victory) that came out of our June recall elections was the election of John Lehman to replace the recalled Republican State Senator. This gave the Senate Majority to the Democrats.
If you haven't been followng the redistricting in Wisconsin, you need some history first:
The Republican majority in the State Senate hired that firm, at taxpayer expense, to formulate the state redistricting maps, limit input and access to those maps to Republicans who signed a secrecy pledge, and keep the redistricting activities out of the State Capitol so no Democrat or member of the public could gain access to them. The redistricting was, therefore, done inside the private offices of the law firm.
After completion, the
gerrymanderng redistricting plan was hastily rammed through the Republican majorities in both the State Assembly and State Senate. The clear evidence of gerrymandering was followed by several court cases and court orders which prevented the new districts from being used until the November elections.
Voces de la Frontera, in their case, revealled the extreme lengths that the GOP went to maximize secrecy and prevent any input from anyone other than Republicans. The court demanded records and even fined the Republican-run state (i.e. taxpayers) for their failure to release the records and the frivolous and flimsy motions they filed to avoid releasing the records. The law firm and Republican majority then released the documentation.
Sadly, the court only mandated a change to one single legislative boundary despite the obvous gerrymandering which was pushed through to retain a Republican majority in the Legislature.
End of the history you need to know.
Mark Miller, State Senate Majority Leader (I love being able to type that), has received 3 bankers boxes and several computer discs containing the records. Democrats will be making all of the records available online, but they appear to contain information and email exchanges that were not disclosed to the court as ordered.
Some of the emails appear never to have been released before. If they were not, it could spell legal woes for Republicans because of a raft of court orders to release material earlier this year. During that earlier fight over records, a panel of federal judges fined attorneys for lawmakers about $17,500 for filing frivolous motions to block the release of records.Wow!
"I have some very serious concerns about whether the Legislature was forthcoming about the documents they produced and the representations they made to the court," said Peter Earle, an attorney for immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera, which sued over the maps.
Earle and Doug Poland, an attorney for a group of Democrats who also sued over the maps, said they did not recall seeing the two email chains in which Troupis, McLeod and others discuss citizenship. Earle and Poland are checking whether they had been produced during the lawsuit.
"They appear to go right to the heart of the Voting Rights Act claims," Poland said. "It's hard to believe we would have missed something like that."
The state paid Voces $185,500 because it lost the case, and is in negotiations with the group Poland represents over paying its legal fees. All told, taxpayers have paid $1.6 million so far to draw the maps and contend with litigation.So, the "we're broke" Republicans had no problem wasting $1.6 million in taxpayer money on their gerrymandering, but cried crocodile tears at the costs of recall elections which were grassroots democracy in action against Republican extremism. They also don't have problems giving tax breaks to corporations to create a budget deficit and use that to peel unions from public workers and severly cut services to the poor, the disabled, and our children. Of course, their priorities are different from the rest of humanity.
If redstricting information that was court ordered to be released is found to have been withheld, this is going to be a great big enormous deal. We all know that Republicans claim to be the Law and Order Party, but hypocrisy is the middle name of the GOP. I'll be following this story closely.
It's Friday! This space for rent for more stories. Let's hope for a Friday News Dump Day.
If he does endorse a candidate, he will likely pick between former Governor Tommy Thompson, who was Governor while Walker served in the State Legislature or Assembly
Majority Leader Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (Fitz, the Lesser and brother of the former State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald) who served Walker well in ramming his extemist legislation through the Republican packed Assembly.
It's doubtful he'd endorse Eric Hovde, a political newcomer who is in the Mitt Romney investment capitol business, or Mark Neumann who he has pummelled politically in their previous primary races.
The Walker endorsement might be a game changer. Poll after poll shows Fitzgerald trailing behind the other 3 candidates who are virtually tied with each other.
It's nearly 6:30 Pm so it's unlikely for anything else to come out. Sad, but true.