Another day, another report of Florida governor and dollar-store Trump impersonator Ron DeSantis flagrantly breaking the law. This one was uncovered by ProPublica, which is now finally able to shed some light on what happened last year when DeSantis threw a public fit over the Republican-held state legislature's proposed congressional maps, vetoing them and replacing them with his own heavily gerrymandered version.
It wasn't fully clear at the time just how DeSantis had come up with his map, one that produced 20 Republican-leaning districts to just eight Democratic ones and which erased Black Democrat Al Lawson's northern Florida district, redistributing his 46% Black district among four majority-white ones. The answer, reports ProPublica, is that DeSantis hired on a team of national Republican consultants notorious for Republican gerrymanders in other states.
The National Republican Redistricting Trust is the Republican National Committee's own strategy team for crafting pro-Republican gerrymanders around the nation, and "general counsel and senior advisor" Jason Torchinsky was among those brought in by DeSantis deputy chief of staff Alex Kelly to come up with new Florida maps that would more heavily favor the Republican Party. Another was Republican redistricting guru Thomas Bryan, who "works with the party," he says, on redistricting efforts as assigned by Torchinsky.
So there's your answer. The new maps Ron DeSantis demanded be used for Florida redistricting, the ones he vetoed Republican-drawn maps in order to implement, were crafted by the same Republican Party-backed team responsible for partisan map-drawing in Texas, Virginia, and other key states. Of course it was. There's no way anyone in the governor's office, whether it be DeSantis or Kelly, would have been able to produce a 20-to-8 Republican advantage in a near-50-50 swing state. They called in the experts, and the experts returned with a new map that skewed as heavily Republican as could be mustered.
There's only one problem with that. Well, several, but one big one: It's illegal. The Florida constitution was amended in 2010 to bar partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts, an amendment that Republicans began violating immediately until the state Supreme Court knocked some heads around, ordering its own maps be implemented and voiding illegally drawn Republican versions.
That was the status quo for the next half-decade, until Dollar Store Trump came along. The Republican legislature last year drew up maps that were still mostly based on the court-ordered versions, and it was that begrudging willingness by Florida lawmakers to actually pretend at following the law that set DeSantis off. He was reportedly furious, and ProPublica notes that he even vowed to veto any map that left Lawson's 46% Black district intact.
So that's when the governor's office sought national help and came back with the partisan version, in brazen violation to the state constitution.
The real question here, of course, is whether anything of substance will actually come of DeSantis violating the state laws he swore an oath to uphold. This would generally be an impeachable offense, if anybody in Florida gave a damn about anything, but the Perv-a-Lago state has seen Republicans brazenly do illegal things so often that it's difficult to imagine this instance of crookery will even stand out. The Supreme Court, now mostly packed with Ron DeSantis appointees, could throw out the DeSantis maps as illegal and draw its own version yet again, but even if that happens the DeSantis map will be used for Florida elections from now until then.
It's a pattern we've seen again and again, whether it be support for Trump stealing classified documents after being voted out of office, Matt Gaetz getting away seemingly free and clear after news of his cocaine-and-sex-trafficking habits broke, or DeSantis staging a stunt that's bumped up perilously close to federal kidnapping charges when his agents lied to migrants, complete with fake pamphlets and other props, to coax them into being trafficked elsewhere. None of these people appear to have any compunction against breaking state and federal laws whenever they want to, and they remain confident that there's not a damn thing anyone can actually do about it.
Still, though. Ron DeSantis made a big show of demanding a new ‘election security’-minded private police force, one that’s devoted itself to finding and arresting a handful of Florida voters who thought their voting rights were restored (because the Florida government put them back on the voting rolls.) It turns out the biggest illegal act was orchestrated by Ron DeSantis himself, because of course it was. Ron DeSantis: just another career criminal with a campaign office.
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