Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Redistricting -- Day Three Recap

For most of the day, Republican National Committee redistricting shill Thomas Hofeller spent the day sparring with AIRC counsel Colin Campbell. Hofeller, (who didn't seem to mind nearly as much as opposing counsel David Cantelme when Campbell mispronounced Hofeller's name) had begun his testimony on trial day two in an effort to discredit the legislative district map used in the 2012 election. From The Atlantic story linked above:
Every 10 years, after U.S. census workers have fanned out across the nation, a snowy-haired gentleman by the name of Tom Hofeller takes up anew his quest to destroy Democrats. He packs his bag and his laptop with its special Maptitude software, kisses his wife of 46 years, pats his West Highland white terrier, Kara, and departs his home in Alexandria, Virginia, for a United States that he will help carve into a jigsaw of disunity.
Campbell, for much of the day, repeated the rapid fire style of cross examination he started on Rick Stertz on Monday -- for the purpose of impeaching Hofeller's testimony. For his part, Hofeller (the RNC counterpart to the Arizona Legislature's John Mills) was incredibly evasive and generally unwilling to answer questions with a simple yes or no.

Hofeller is a soft-spoken nerdy type but the lede in The Atlantic story REALLY characterizes the work that he does incredibly well.
Who’s most to blame for our divisive politics? How about the gerrymanderers quietly deciding where your vote goes. Inside the dark art and modern science of making democracy a lot less democratic. (emphasis added)
And Hofeller is just as earnest and sincere sounding as Arizona's practitioner of the dark art of Republican redistricting bullshitting , David Cantelme.

Is that a little harsh? Maybe. Maybe not. For both of them.

Well, some specifics from Hofeller and Cantelme may give you a good idea of what the day looked like. Hofeller said that if the AIRC had followed redistricting criteria in the Arizona Constitution, they could NOT have gotten the map they ended up producing. And he sounded SOOOO sincere. And expert witness nerdy.

But before Campbell was able to begin the cross examination, Judge Silver asked Hofeller how the Department of Justice could have given preclearance when they did. Just the fact that she asked the question was a reasonable indication that all the ensuing effort Campbell put into impeaching the GOP witness's testimony may not have even been necessary. Figuratively speaking, of course, because it would have been irresponsible to have not taken the time to point out the huge holes in this guy's report, testimony and background.

First things first. Hofeller had been paid NO fee of any kind by any of the named plaintiffs in this federal court lawsuit.

Instead, Hofeller is paid $16,000/month plus expenses by the RNC for his consulting work. Which means the RNC is apparently footing the bill for his office space in the RNC HQ too. Pretty good work if you can get it... I suppose.

According to his testimony, Hofeller meets with RNC chief counsel every week and does some of the work on this lawsuit in his RNC office. He knows and conferred with John Mills during the course of the Independent Redistricting process.


Mr. Hofeller did NOT review the racially polarized voting analyses or AIRC transcripts or any other AIRC analyses. Yet, his alleged expert opinion is that the AIRC legislative district map could not possibly be considered to be in compliance with criteria spelled out in Arizona Constitution Article 4, Part 2, Section 1 (14).

In impeaching the testimony of the GOP expert, Campbell got Hofeller to admit that work he did to defend maps drawn by North Carolina's GOP legislative majority was because they wanted to maintain majority control in that state's lawmaking. Campbell cited Hofeller's work for GOP in Tennessee and Missouri also. Before he finished, Campbell was able to get the slippery GOP operative to say that he believed Rick Stertz had acted (in his capacity as an IRC commissioner) to "intentionally create districts of invidious discriminatory purpose by gerrymandering on the basis of partisanship and ethnicity."

On redirect examination, Cantelme tried to get dramatic by claiming that all of Campbell's questioning was nothing but straw man fallacy. But Campbell was actually showing legitimate parallels between and contradictions in the work Hofeller had done for North Carolina, Tennessee and Missouri as compared with his completely RNC funded work in this lawsuit. Cantelme seemed to take particular relish in his rhetorical call to "knock them down now and forever." Presumably knocking down what he wanted the judges to believe were straw men. Setting up his rhetoric, Cantelme said that both he and Campbell had been through Catholic schools and learned all about logic. Judge Wake, however, before Cantelme could get into it further, pointed out that before deciding on a career in law, he had spent six years studying for the Catholic priesthood. So Cantelme clearly didn't impress Wake with that stunt.

In what seemed like too fine a point, Cantelme and Hofeller a couple of times today tried to emphasize that Plan X was not intended to be a recommended alternative for the adopted and DOJ precleared legislative district map. It seemed like quite a lot of work to go to just to try to hoodwink three federal judges into scrapping two years of work by the AIRC.

Commissioner Linda McNulty did a fine job of answering questions from Cantelme, Mary O'Grady (who conducted the cross examination) and each of the judges. She recalled a great deal of detail from AIRC meetings and deliberations and provided meaningful background for the judges.

A highlight for me, in McNulty's cross examination, was O'Grady's questions (and Linda's answers) establishing that competitiveness was a legitimate consideration in making changes that ended up in the final map, and that it is a legitimate state consideration.

Today, the trial was still quite intriguing for me but the unpadded wooden bench seats in the gallery were getting uncomfortable by the end of the day.


Tomorrow, Commissioner Scott Freeman is expected to begin the day's testimony, followed by UC Berkeley Professor Bruce Cain. I understand that Cain, who attended today's proceedings, will defend the racially polarized voting analysis prepared by Harvard Prof. Gary King as a part of the development of the adopted AIRC maps.

On Friday, AIRC chair Colleen Mathis will testify and both sides will present closing arguments, followed by a couple of hours of questioning from the judges. Apparently, the judges want to finish the six day trial in five days.

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I didn't think any corporate media besides the Arizona Capitol Times had attended the trial today, but an AP story on Bloomberg.com popped up in a Google Alert and it had details that one had to watch or listen in order to know.

2 comments:

  1. If you were to read the tea leaves up to this point, where do you think the Judges will come down on this?

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  2. I don't read Tea Leaves... which is why I put the disclaimers in the post from Monday evening. The thing is, judges have a way (experience) of cutting through the extraneous noise and getting to the essence of the legal issues in a lawsuit. They asked insightful questions yesterday, some of which could be construed as supporting plaintiffs view point, BUT they don't always ask the questions in a way that lends itself to guessing what they believe about the case.

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