Surprise! After voters in Florida approved the "Fair Districts" constitutional Amendments to prevent coordination between the Republican Party and Florida legislators in 2010 over redistricting, they did it anyway, through the use of private email accounts.
This information came to light yesterday after the Associated Press requested the documents after they were presented in a court hearing last week.
The documents contain emails from top Republican Party officials, legislators, legislative employees and political consultants who were being paid by the Republican Party. This, after Republicans in the legislature boasted about "transparency" in the process:
Florida’s legislative leaders appear to have authorized their staff to use private email accounts, secret “dropboxes” and to engage in “brainstorming meetings” with Republican Party of Florida consultants in attempting to draw favorable political districts, despite a constitutional ban on such coordination.
The allegations arise from a lawsuit challenging the Senate and congressional redistricting that include emails showing how top deputies of Senate President Don Gaetz, House Speaker Will Weatherford and several of Gaetz’s consultants were in frequent contact with consultants who drafted and analyzed maps. Redistricting is done every 10 years to redraw boundaries of legislative and congresssional districts to ensure equal representation.
The emails show that just a month after voters approved the amendment banning all coordination between the party and lawmakers in 2010, Rich Heffley, the RPOF political consultant who served as a close advisor to Gaetz, called a redistricting “brainstorming” meeting to be held in the chairman’s conference room at RPOF headquarters in Tallahassee.
Heffley listed the expected participants, which included Weatherford’s redistricting chief of staff, Alex Kelly; Gaetz’s redistricting general counsel Andy Bardos; Gaetz’s district aide Chris Clark, and the political consultants running the House and Senate 2012 Republican election campaigns: Frank Terraferma, Joel Springer, Andy Palmer, Marc Reichelderfer, and Pat Bainter. Also attending: the lawyers advising the House and Senate on their redistricting efforts, George Meros and Ben Ginsberg.
In one example (below), in an email from January of 2012, a Republican official writes to a consultant about changes that could "entice Mica to run against Adams," meaning GOP Rep. John Mica and GOP Rep. Sandy Adams. Mica did run against Adams, defeating her. The email also mentions that "[GOP Rep. Gus] Bilirakis will cry."
You can read all the emails here.
So much for "Government in the sunshine." Is anyone really surprised?