Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
The lawyers/lobbyists for the secretive GOP redistricting organization FAIR Trust that attempted to threaten and intimidate the AIRC during public hearings have now filed lawsuits against the AIRC challenging the new district maps. The Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) reports Republicans file 2 lawsuits challenging redistricting maps | Arizona Capitol Times:
The lawsuits, filed by attorney Mike Liburdi of the Republican-led FAIR Trust effort, take aim at the maps at both the state and federal court levels, and seek to challenge Arizona’s new district maps.
Liburdi is teaming up with FAIR Trust attorney David Cantelme and Lisa Hauser, who served as counsel for the inaugural IRC and helped lead Gov. Jan Brewer’s effort to remove commission chairwoman Colleen Mathis.
Note: You will recall that Lisa Hauser pitched a fit that the AIRC did not hire her as Republican legal counsel this time around and filed a complaint (which was rejected). Lisa Hauser also represented Governor Jan Brewer in her spectactular failed bid to oust AIRC chair Colleen Mathis in a blatant abuse of power for which the Arizona Supreme Court smacked her down decisively. Hauser also represented "King" Russell Pearce in his failed bid to stop his recall election. A real class act this Lisa Hauser.
For more about the comedy duo of David Cantalme and Mike Liburdi, go back and review the extensive reporting provided by Steve Muratore at The Arizona Eagletarian.
The challenge in state court seeks to force the IRC to redraw its congressional lines, which Liburdi said were drawn unlawfully because the commission deviated from a clear cut constitutional process for amending a basic grid map into a more finished and refined product.
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The state court filing also alleges that the commission violated state open meeting laws through its secretive consideration of potential mapping consultants.
The problem with this claim is that it is already the subject of litigation before another court, on appeal from an opinion rejecting the claim:
The hiring of the firm became the subject of an investigation by Attorney General Tom Horne, who engaged in a legal effort to force the testimony of Herrera, Mathis and McNulty. That effort, filed in Maricopa County Superior Court, failed, as Horne was removed from the case for conflict of interest by Judge Dean Fink.
Fink later terminated the investigation, which was handed off to Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, and found that the commission was only subject to its own constitutional open meeting law requirements, and not more stringent standards called for under state law. Fink’s determination was appealed by Montgomery, and the matter is pending before the Arizona Court of Appeals.
The second lawsuit targeting the commission was filed in federal court.
Liburdi said he will attempt to have a federal panel of judges redraw Arizona’s legislative districts.
This attempt argues that the commission packed Republican districts with greater numbers of voters while leaving Democratic districts more sparsely populated. That occurred, he said, in order to reduce the number of Republican-dominated districts, while maximizing Democratic gains in the greater number of districts possible.
Anyone who followed the AIRC public hearings closely knows that this is bullshit. What FAIR Trust really wanted was "packing" of Hispanic voters into a small number of districts, giving Tea-Publicans a numerical advantage in other districts. FAIR Trust even had now disgraced former Rep. Richard Miranda (D-LD13) argue in favor of "super-majority" aka "packing" Hispanic districts. Mr. Miranda has since got his comeuppance, Ex-Arizona lawmaker Miranda admits fraud, tax evasion, for which he will be sentenced in June and could face up to 25 years in federal prison.
Liburdi acknowledged that federal case law grants leeway when it comes to creating districts of equal population. But, he said, the IRC did nothing to legally justify its discrepancies and that the state constitution’s mandate for equal population “to the extent practicable” provides a higher standard than case law.
This also is bullshit. Federal law typically allows for up to a 10% population discrepancy between districts, and the AIRC submission to the DOJ established that the new districts in Arizona are well below that 10% threshold. The AIRC did justify the variances in its submission to the DOJ. As I recall, Lisa Hauser argued exactly the opposite on behalf of the last AIRC in 1992, for which she served as legal counsel in protracted litigation for over seven years. The population disparities were greater the last time.
So far we have this cast of characters: the secretive GOP redistricting organization FAIR Trust, and attorneys David Cantalme, Mike Liburdi and Lisa Hauser. Let's meet the band of misfits they say they represent.
In the Maricopa County Superior Court complaint (.pdf) the named plaintiffs are: Vince Leach; Karen Glennon; Lynne St. Angelo (CD 1)(a frequent comic sideshow at AIRC hearings on behalf of the Tea Party and her LD 26 heroes, Cap'n Al Melvin and Terri Proud); Carolyn Cox (the Pima County Republican Party Chair) (CD 2); Sen. Don "Tequila" Shooter (R-Yuma)(CD 3); Karyn Cushing and Jayne Friedman (CD 6); and Eleanor Clark (CD 9). Attachments: Exhibits to Complaint (.pdf).
These named plaintiffs are merely strawmen for the real parties in interest, members of the Arizona Republican Caucus in the Arizona Legislature and Congress. According to the Arizona Republic, Arizona redistricting maps challenged by lawsuits:
Michael Liburdi said the plaintiffs are conservative Republicans. He declined to discuss who was paying for the suit.
Lisa Hauser declined to say who was paying for the suit challenging the congressional map, but she said it was "Republican flavored" and those paying are "private individuals."
These smartasses are being too cute by half. First, no one believes this band of misfit plaintiffs are paying for this lawsuit and, second, who is actually paying for the expenses of litigation is subject to discovery and the veil of secrecy will be lifted eventually. I would be looking to GOP organizations, and given the teabaggers identified above, also to Tea Party organizations like those funded by the Koch brothers, and Koch funded Americans for Prosperity and the Goldwater Institute.
We have the same situation with the U.S. District Court complaint (.pdf). The named plaintiffs are: Wesley Harris (the Tea Party activist who assisted sham candidate Olivia Cortes to help his buddy "King Russell Pearce in his recall, and who was also disruptive at AIRC public hearings); LaMont Andrews; Cynthia Biggs (wife of Senate Majority Leader Andy Biggs); Lynne Breyer; Ted Carpenter (candidate for state treasurer in 2010); Beth Hallgren; James Hallgren; Lina Hatch; Terry Hill; Joyce Hill; Paula Linker; Karen MacKean; and Sherese Steffens. Attachments: Exhibits to Complaint (.pdf).
Again, these named plaintiffs are merely strawmen for the real parties in interest, members of the Arizona Republican Caucus in the Arizona Legislature and Congress.
Now that the lawsuits have been filed, the Arizona Democratic Party will be forced to intervene as a party in interest to protect its interests in these lawsuits. More importantly, the U.S. Department of Justice will be forced to intervene as a party in interest, since it has jurisdiction for preclearance of the new district maps under the Voting Rights Act and approved the maps.
This is where it's going to get interesting. I strongly urge the DOJ to engage in aggressive discovery against the secretive GOP redistricting organization FAIR Trust to expose how it conspired with Republican organizations to undermine the constitutionally prescribed AIRC and to thwart the will of the voters of Arizona who enacted the AIRC by citizens initiative.
I can't wait for the discovery requests for communications between House Speaker Andy Tobin and his aide John Mills, with Arizona Tea-Publicans in the Arizona legislature and congressional delegation, GOP organizations and the secretive GOP redistricting organization FAIR Trust. Do discovery to determine the real parties in interest who are paying for these lawsuits. Let's shine a light on their shadowy activities and have some transparency for the first time into Tea-Publican efforts to undermine the constitutionally prescribed AIRC and the will of the voters.