Redistricting witness lists include Tom Lee, Bill Galvano & Dem consultants; Lee: 'I have clean hands'

Mary Ellen Klas | Miami Herald | 09/22/2015

With the House prepared to attack the Senate redistricting map in court this week, as well as the maps offered up by the challengers, the list of witnesses is getting long for the hearing before Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis that begins Thursday.

The House and Senate have submitted their lists which include Senate Appropriations Chairman Tom Lee, R-Brandon, and Senate Reapportionment Committee Chairman Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, the primary authors of the two Senate map, as well as a line up of redistricting experts and legislative redistricting staff.

Lee's modifications to his home county of Hillsborough, which were adopted in the final map approved by the full Senate, provoked House Republicans to suggest that the Senate map may have been drawn to benefit incumbents or Republicans.

Lee told the Herald/Times that he is looking forward to testifying.

"I have clean hands,'' he said. "Nobody wants to play show and tell with me."

He said that the record will show that the Senate, particularly Galvano, "went out of their way to respond to the court’s direction" when they drew the maps.

Galvano, who drew a second Senate map four days after the redistricting session ended in August without resolution, will likely testify that his proposal was designed to be a compromise to accommodate the concerns of the House as well as meet the needs of the Senate to improve the overall base map drawn by legislative staff.

"I hope Judge Lewis looks level-headed and will see what we did in the Senate was devoid of any intention to benefit and our refusal to retreat was based upon a concern of doing so,'' Lee said.

Meanwhile, the House is taking the lead in the attempt to prosecute the challengers for violating the Fair Districts provisions of the constitution by submitting the depositions of a long list of Democratic redistricting consultants, Democratic pollster Dave Beattie, the executive director of the Florida Democratic party, Ellen Freidin, the legal advisors to the League of Women Voters who led the campaign to put the Fair Districts amendments on the ballot, and Democratic Party executive director Scott Arceneaux.

The House tried and failed to persuade the Florida Supreme Court to allow it to open the case for more depositions and discovery because, it said, the challengers' alternatives to the House map "were drawn, reviewed, discussed, modified, and approved in a closed process, in complete darkness, by national political operatives."

The court ruled Monday, by a 5-2 vote, to reject the request for additional discovery. The vote followed the lines of the 5-2 July ruling with the court's moderate and liberal justices voting as the majority and conservatives Charles Canady and Ricky Polston opposed.

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