Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Redistricting -- Vindication, three years later -- Second UPDATE 4-30-14

The initial spark that led to firestorms a plenty in the 2011 cycle revolved around refusal of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission to hire Republican mapping consultant National Demographics Corporation. NDC is headed up by Rose Institute of State and Local Government fellow Doug Johnson, who submitted a grossly deficient proposal in response to the AIRC RFP that spring.

Now we learn that Rose Institute founding director David Alan Heslop has been convicted in a scheme involving bribery and money laundering in California.
The founding director of Claremont McKenna College’s Rose Institute of State and Local Government, per a plea agreement, has pleaded guilty to one felony count of conspiracy to commit bribery.
David Alan Heslop, of Templeton, entered his plea in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Monday, court records show. He will next appear before Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald on June 30 for sentencing, according to online court records.
Per his plea agreement, the remaining eight felony counts against Heslop were dismissed.
Heslop’s attorney, David W. Shapiro, couldn’t be reached for comment.
Heslop faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross gain or gross loss resulting from his offense, whichever is greatest.
Heslop and three others were indicted in May 2012 in connection with allegations of an elaborate bribery and money laundering scheme involving construction projects for the Twentynine Palms Band of Mission Indians, including an ill-fated casino the tribe was trying to build on its land.
 Former AIRC Commissioner Andi Minkoff wrote letters to the current AIRC and to the California redistricting commission describing the experience the first AIRC had dealing with NDC. Heslop was a principal in NDC when the first AIRC contracted the firm.

Granted, I don't know the extent of Heslop's involvement with NDC in 2011, but the relationship between Heslop and Johnson was longstanding and the record still reflects that NDC's 2011 proposal was grossly deficient.

This should provide complete vindication for the current AIRC and especially its chair, Colleen Mathis for having voted with Democrats McNulty and Herrera to select Strategic Telemetry to consult on the map drawing process nearly three years ago now.

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By the way, the mapping consultant selection was one of the issues in the Leach lawsuit. The case still has seen no action since last fall and is stuck in Maricopa County Superior Court with no trial date. I wonder when Judge Brain will ask counsel for the plaintiffs (Liburdi and Hauser) if Freeman was correct in his speculation, that the suit has been abandoned. If so, the suit should probably just be dismissed.

As an aside, Lisa Hauser's name showed up last week in a notice for the public to submit comments about people being considered for appointment to the Maricopa County Superior Court bench.

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The AP package of redistricting stories apparently will be released piece by piece, from time to time. The latest story reports that some states have tried to remove politics from the process but Arizona's effort fell short. At least Loyola Law professor Justin Leavitt was interviewed for the latest story.
Arizona, Hawaii, Idaho, New Jersey and Washington state also have set up commissions to redraw district boundaries after the new census every 10 years. A handful of others have formed panels to redraw only state legislature seats.
States set up their panels with different outcomes in mind, said Justin Levitt, an associate professor of law at Loyola University in Los Angeles, the creator of a website that tracks state redistricting efforts, http://redistricting.lls.edu/index.php. [...]
Arizona residents voted to give the job of redrawing legislative and congressional district lines to an independent bipartisan commission in 2000, but getting politics out of the process has proved elusive. The commission’s first effort produced a decade long court battle after Democrats argued that the five-member panel did not create enough competitive districts. That court challenge ultimately failed, but new maps drawn in 2012 are back in court. 
From where I sit, corporate media (of which the AP sits squarely in the heart thereof) wrongly suggests that you can take the politics out of an inherently political and adversarial process.

Regardless, Heslop was among the first of "experts" to opine that because competitiveness is last on the list of criteria Arizona's voters approved for guiding the map making process, it was the lowest priority. Based on what we now understand Heslop's values to be, it's no wonder he told the first AIRC "communities of interest" as a factor was more important than competitiveness. He also cleverly recognized that communities of interest apparently equated to "likeminded voting blocs," the antithesis to competitiveness.

Heslop's prioritization in that regard illuminates the motivation of AIRC Commissioners Freeman and Stertz having advocated for selection of National Demographics. It's also fair to speculate about the connection between Sean Noble/Koch brothers' Dark Money having been invested in creation of faux outrage targeting the AIRC in general and Mathis, McNulty and Herrera in particular in 2011.

UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE

NDC president Doug Johnson talked to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune in 2012, claiming it was all just a contract dispute.
Johnson described the lawsuits and indictment as merely a contract dispute problem. He said the federal government is prosecuting the case because it involves a sovereign Indian tribe.
"It's essentially a contract dispute the U.S. attorneys are involved in," Johnson said.
According to the indictment, the tribe received federal funds at the time of some of the alleged crimes.
Johnson said Kovall was involved in a number of Rose Institute projects over the years due to his expertise in tribal and environmental issues, and had worked as an environmental lawyer for Arco.
Heslop was the director of the Rose Institute for 30 years, Johnson said.
Interesting to note that Doug Johnson, the guy who drew the maps that ended up giving the Arizona GOP supermajorities in both chambers of the Arizona Legislature thought a scheme involving allegations of substantial fraudulent activity was a simple contract dispute.
The indictment and lawsuits allege the defendants persuaded the tribe to spend tens of millions of dollars it didn't need to so the defendants could benefit.
Allegations
The 48-count indictment alleges a sophisticated scheme in which Bardos would pay Heslop kickbacks from construction contracts he was awarded by the tribe, based on Heslop's and Kovall's recommendation. Heslop would then dole out portions of his alleged kickbacks to Kovall and Shambaugh.
Over the span of three years, Bardos is said to have earned millions of dollars from the tribe for allegedly substandard work. Between May 2007 and June 2008, Bardos allegedly paid Heslop a $683,000 kickback for Heslop's recommending that the tribe hire him to oversee construction projects, according to the Riverside County lawsuit. [...]
Heslop's attorney, Robert Sandler, said his client will be completely vindicated in court.
"He's absolutely innocent," Sandler said. "I've been doing this for a long time, and it's really a remarkable, wonderful thing when you have a client who is innocent."
If Heslop was innocent, why did he plead guilty to conspiracy? It's not like he couldn't afford to pay his defense attorney.

UPDATE 4-16-14

https://slo.edhat.com/site/tidbit.cfm?nid=132242

http://www.pe.com/business/business-headlines/20140408-indian-gaming-third-defendant-pleads-guilty-in-2.8-million-bribery-scheme.ece

The stories linked above reference a 20-page DOJ statement of findings document signed by Heslop. I will try to obtain a copy of that document and will post it when I do.

UPDATE 4-30-14

I spoke with Doug Johnson this afternoon. He was understandably reluctant to answer my questions initially. However, he did indicate that some time in 2006 he did, in fact, purchase NDC from Heslop and Florence P. Adams. He would not disclose the terms of the transfer or the specific date (or even the month). He did say, however, that the transfer was completed BEFORE any of the events about which Heslop was accused and agreed to plead guilty for conspiracy to commit bribery.

Johnson also indicated that Heslop's role at NDC during any time prior to that transfer, going back to when NDC was first awarded the contract with the AIRC at the beginning of the first AIRC cycle, was limited to "retired partner."

Johnson took exception to my post which indicated the 2011 AIRC decision to not contract with NDC was vindicated by Heslop's conviction or the findings of the US Attorney in the factual basis for the plea agreement.

It is my opinion still that the association of NDC with Heslop tainted the situation, though the specific degree to which cannot be measured.

That situation does not change the fact that Johnson's/NDC's proposal to conduct the 2011 mapping for the AIRC Congressional and legislative districts was deficient in concrete, tangible ways including numerous errors that reflected a hurried and careless preparation AND that his proposal did NOT include any financial information. In other words, Johnson did not say how much he planned to charge the AIRC for NDC's services in the event they selected him to conduct this cycle's mapping. Omission of proposed cost for services is, most definitely, a material deficiency in the proposal.

SECOND 4-30-14 UPDATE

I spoke again with Doug Johnson (twice) who told me that whoever told me that NDC's proposal did not include pricing information was lying to me.

I then reviewed the proposal documents, which are posted on the AIRC website. There are two separate "attachment 3" documents for Johnson's proposal. One has a listing of deliverables and pricing schedule, the other does not. Neither has a date stamp for when they were received by SPO or the AIRC. The two do each have dates noted on the bottom left side of each page with a date in July 2011. The selection process had been completed (at the end of June 2011) by the time these printouts were made and posted.

Johnson insisted that the problem with the attachment 3 with no deliverables or pricing was a printing error on the part of the State Procurement Office and said that the two documents were printed out within hours and maybe even within minutes of each other.

My concern with his version is that if it was true that it was only a printing error on the part of SPO, how would he be able to claim that reprinting within minutes had fixed the problem? And if it was only a printing error, then why would the blank version have been posted to the AIRC website?

UPDATE 5-1-14

My blog post dated May 1, 2014 updates this post.

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