Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Monday, December 21, 2015

Redistricting -- Leach lawsuit

Yes, last Monday the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission met and voted to take certain legal actions as recommended by counsel during an executive session. But I suspect that regarding the three and a half year old allegations that sat without this case moving forward, not many people know what Leach is about.

So, here's the latest. In October, state Rep. Vince Leach* (through AZ law firm Snell & Wilmer) filed a Third Amended Complaint. The 23-page document lists eight plaintiffs, with House Appropriations Committee vice-chair Vince Leach in the lead role. But he's not the only state lawmaker conspicuously seeking what amounts to relitigating several issues that have already been decided in favor of the Commission. Senate Appropriations chair Don "Shoot 'em up" Shooter is also on the list.

The allegations of wrongdoing by the AIRC include violations of Open Meeting Law, failure to start with a proper Grid Map, "abandoning" the Grid Map that they did adopt, failure to deliberate properly, not properly considering the recommendations of the legislature, failure to properly advertise the Draft Maps and improperly selecting mapping consultant Strategic Telemetry. More specifics on the previous OML ruling may be reviewed here.

More than 400 posts to the Arizona Eagletarian from December 2010 through 2012 (when the adopted maps were first used for elections) and into 2013 (when Republican tantrums/lawsuits began to be heard) document the deliberation that the AIRC did. Allegations to the contrary in Leach are unfounded and designed to try to undermine the will of Arizona voters.

Additionally, those allegations and lawsuits have the effect of squandering taxpayer funds for frivolous partisan whining. The significance of that squandering is partly hidden by the recent filings by Leach plaintiffs and by Commissioner Rick Stertz. Stertz apparently at least partly swayed Judge Brodman into taking the Leach claims about the OML seriously.

Further, in the TAC, Vince Leach complains that allegations which were dismissed from the Second Amended Complaint are going to be appealed. So, our "good friends" Leach and Shooter, and some of their Republican co-conspirators are now declaring their intent to further waste taxpayer funds regardless of the disposition of claims in the TAC.

Vince Leach and Don Shooter want, as a gift from taxpayers, and from Judge Brodman, declaration that the Congressional map currently in use is invalid and unenforceable. They also want all business conducted by the AIRC "in violation of the OML" to be declared null and void. Gosh, how much of what the voters enacted does that mean they want overturned?

They ALSO want the court to demand taxpayers pay for ALL of the legal costs (attorneys fees). Talk about a ballsy demand!

Now, I realize that all of the things listed in the TAC are standard/boilerplate lawsuit language. They may not expect to actually complete their Hail Mary pass, but the fact that they are even suing is a gross insult to the taxpayers of Arizona.

That two sitting Republican lawmakers -- both directly tied to determining on what taxpayer funds may be spent -- are demanding taxpayers pay for this dubious effort -- in almost certain violation of the Arizona Constitution's gift clause -- is unconscionable. Voters should be outraged.

Perhaps Leach and Shooter are counting on outrage fatigue to provide them adequate cover in this case.

Anyway, reflecting back to the recent post about Leach, where I quoted the YS and the next day the YS included a correction, I obtained updated information.

Since then, the AIRC did file a motion to disqualify Secretary of State Reagan from functioning as a plaintiff and joined in Commissioner Mathis' motion to disqualify Attorney General Brnovich from representing Reagan.

The motion to disqualify Reagan spells out the reasons the SOS was a nominal defendant as well as setting forth reasons why she cannot function as a plaintiff. The bottom line is she has no standing to make a political case against the AIRC.

Let me also point out that Commissioners Freeman and Stertz by waiving legislative privilege clearly are trying to make it look like the other commissioners are hiding something. The fact of the matter is that the alleged OML violations were already litigated and the court determined NO violation occurred.

So, why are the two Republican commissioners trying to undermine the work of the commission? We can only speculate that it's for partisan reasons. Of course, if either of them would like to issue a rebuttal to my inference, I'd be happy to publish it.

Ultimately, this case boils down to frivolous claims, plaintiffs (including two sitting lawmakers) trying to personally benefit from gifts provided by taxpayers, and two redistricting commissioners trying to undermine the work of the entire AIRC.

Amicus briefs filed in support of the AIRC in the recent Harris SCOTUS oral arguments may provide necessary illumination. One, filed by Princeton Prof. Samuel Wang said,
Amicus Samuel S. Wang, Ph.D., operates the Princeton Election Consortium blog, which since 2004 has been devoted to statistical analysis of election processes and predictions (see He is Professor of Neuroscience and Faculty Associate of the Program in Law and Public Affairs, both at Princeton University. [...]
In sum, because the results of Arizona’s elections are inconsistent with the existence of an effective anti-Republican partisan gerrymander, this Court should reject appellants’ argument insofar as it relies on any such intention by the Commission to disadvantage Republicans.
Why else would Republicans seek to undermine the will of Arizona voters, if not to try to gain a partisan advantage? They aren't likely to get a victory in Harris based on direct claims of gerrymandering, so now they have to launch the Hail Mary in hopes of getting a do over on claims of improper procedure.

It IS time for the people to demand this litigation be dismissed altogether, by the plaintiffs.


*Vince Leach says it's an HONOR to represent you and, he says, 
I already serve as the Vice-Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee where I get to look after your tax dollars.
Isn't it peculiar that the Senate Approps chair and the House Approps vice-chair are now wanting to gift themselves taxpayer funds to pay for their aggressive efforts to undermine the will of the voters?

Merry Christmas, you silly LD 8 and LD 13 voters, you're treating ALL Arizona taxpayers to a ride on Santa's open sleigh!

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