Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Monday, April 28, 2014

Redistricting -- Legislature files brief in US Supreme Court; DOJ doc on Heslop -- Second 4-30-14 UPDATE

As we've known for more than three years, the GOP dominated Arizona House and Senate have been trying everything they can think of to undermine the will of the voters (Prop 106) ever since preparations began in earnest to draw the new maps required every ten years after the US Census. In February, the US District Court three-judge panel hearing the Arizona Legislature's challenge to the existence of the Independent Redistricting Commission ruled against state lawmakers.

Soon after learning of the district court ruling against them, the legislature filed a notice of appeal. Today, counsel for the lawmakers filed an Arizona Jurisdictional Statement with the Supreme Court of the United States. That document represents the legislature's briefing of its appeal.

The 121 page PDF is mostly appendices, providing background on the case. The AIRC now has until May 28 to file its response. 

A taste of what the legislature's brief contains:
The use of independent commissions, often in conjunction with the state legislatures, has become a popular tool to aid in the politically sensitive and often contentious process of redistricting.1 As it relates to redistricting of congressional boundaries, however, exclusive commission drawing authority is a relatively modern phenomenon. Only the voters of Arizona, and more recently, California, have fully divested their elected legislatures of congressional districting authority, despite the Elections Clause’s clear reference to the “legislature” of each state.2 It is only this limited issue—complete removal of the Legislature from congressional redistricting—that Appellant challenges.
The authority to prescribe the time, place, and manner of federal elections is conveyed to the state legislature by the Constitution. It cannot be displaced through state action. The District Court’s Order suggests that the authority is alienable through unilateral action of the states. Such a result is inconsistent with the Elections Clause. The Court should hold full plenary review of the District Court’s decision in order to enforce the constitutional delegation of authority to the Legislature.
1 At least twenty-four (24) states currently use redistricting commissions, primarily in drawing state legislative district lines. Other states use commissions as a backup in case of deadlock, or in an advisory role.
2 Arizona (Ariz. Const. art. IV, pt. 2 § 1), California (Cal. Const. art. XXI, § 2). Other states that perform congressional redistricting by commission amended their constitutions by constitutional convention (Hawaii) or by legislatively-referred amendments (Idaho, New Jersey, Washington).
At a glance, this appears to be a marked departure from what the legislature advocated in briefs and in oral argument before the district court. Notably, this appears to hedge somewhat, in hopes that SCOTUS will buy their "woe is us" victimization claim on the basis that they only wanted to be on an even footing with the AIRC. Because Andys Biggshot and Tobin have NOT been making that claim (at any point in the litigation heretofore), the justices should not buy that claim.

Without rehashing the whole thing all over again, both before and during the litigation, the legislature has taken the position that the PEOPLE of Arizona had NO rights in this matter and that ONLY the 90 lawmakers, majority of whom are Republicans, have any rights to determine which voters have particular representation in Congress, whether those Representatives must run for election in districts with a competitive balance of voters or in safe districts with overwhelming majorities in either major political party.

We know from how they conducted themselves (particularly Biggs and Tobin) during the redistricting process, that they have no intention of safeguarding the rights of the PEOPLE of Arizona to fair and competitive representation.

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Pursuant to recent disclosures about the conviction of former National Demographics Corporation principal David Alan Heslop for conspiracy to commit bribery, I have obtained the 20-page factual basis for Heslop's plea agreement. The events for which Heslop was investigated date back at least to 2006.

The factual basis document contains quite a few "the government represents and defendant does not dispute, that it can prove..." statements. Recall that NDC president Doug Johnson, former (VERY CLOSE) business associate of Heslop has characterized the entire situation,
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.
More to come on this situation.

UPDATE -- 4-29-14

I have more investigating to do but have learned that National Demographics Corporation was apparently OWNED by Heslop and Florence Adams when NDC first was granted the contract to draw Arizona's maps in 2001. NDC remained under contract to the AIRC until 2009. At some point, I do not yet know the date, Doug Johnson bought out both Heslop and Adams.

Therefore, it is clear that NDC was contractually connected with the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission at the time of the events detailed in the document referenced above that served as the basis for Heslop's agreement to plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery. What is not clear yet is whether Heslop was still an owner of NDC at the time he committed the conspiracy to commit bribery concerning the Twenty-nine Palms casino project.

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 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 post dated May 1, 2014 updates this post.

1 comment:

  1. Funny how the Republican controlled Legislature is advocating against "states' rights" when the voters of Arizona, the ultimate legislature according to Justice Scalia, take away power the Republican dominated Legislature. Then again, Republicans and their conservative allies are only interested in upholding "states' rights" when they get to trample and take away rights, not expand them.

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