Court Case Reveals More Evidence that Florida Lawmakers Gamed Redistricting

Staff Report | Bradenton Times | 06/24/2013

BRADENTON – Newly released records in a court case involving Florida's congressional and legislative redistricting show that an aide to former House Speaker Dean Cannon released Congressional maps to a GOP operative weeks before they were made available to the public.

The records are being used in a legal battle over whether legislators followed the 2010 Fair District reforms when they drew the latest districting maps. They include a May deposition of Republican political consultant Marc Reichelderfer, along with emails from to Reichelderfer in late 2011 from Cannon's aide, Kirk Pepper.

The Fair Districts groups, which includes the Florida League of Women Voters and Common Cause, argue that lawmakers still drew the maps to favor Republican candidates. They are now trying to secure more emails and testimony from party consultants, legislators and staff.

The Legislature is fighting attempts to gather such evidence. Fair Districts passed as a constitutional amendment referendum by almost 63 percent of the vote. It prohibits legislators from re-districting in a way that would intentionally help or hurt incumbents or parties and instructs them to keep communities whole whenever possible.

Last week, Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis pushed back the trial from August until as late as December or January 2014, after Fair Districts argued that the delays over getting records would prevent the case from properly being prepared in time.

The Legislature then argued that the delay of the trial could impact the 2014 elections, as potential candidates would be uncertain that the current maps would remain intact.

Legal battle over state Senate districts coming to an end

TALLAHASSEE - A contentious battle over Florida state senate districts is coming to an end. read more »

Senate won't appeal redistricting ruling

Clearing the way for elections later this year with a map that could boost Democrats' numbers in the Senate, Republican leaders decided Wednesday not to appeal a Leon County judge's ruling setting districts for the chamber's 40 seats. read more »

Florida Senate won't appeal ruling on new districts

TALLAHASSEE — Senate leaders said Wednesday that they will not appeal last month's court ruling that sided with a voters' coalition in setting new district boundaries. read more »

Florida Legislature won't appeal redistricting ruling

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Legislature is giving up the fight and will not contest a court ruling that redraws all of the state's 40 state senate districts for the 2016 election cycle. read more »

Editorial: Republicans should accept redistricting defeat and drop talk of appeals

For a brief moment last week it appeared the Florida Legislature had come to its senses and was willing to accept a judge's ruling on the boundaries for new state Senate districts. read more »

Renumbering state Senate districts triggers political scramble

TALLAHASSEE — It may sound like a simple process, but the Florida Senate's random renumbering of all its districts statewide Tuesday touched off a series of complicated twists that one key lawmaker said only adds more chaos to a continuing redistricting saga. read more »