Emails show Republicans used redistricting to limit Hispanic representationWisconsin News
The messages reveal there was a concerted effort to keep Hispanics in the same Senate district in Milwaukee so if the federal court found problems, the required changes in district lines would only be minimal.
A public hearing last year on the Wisconsin Legislature’s redistricting plan was heavily orchestrated. The majority Republicans recruited sympathizers, and told them what to tell the committee.
That revelation and others came out Wednesday, Oct. 17, in 34 emails which described how Republicans redrew the new boundaries for state Senate and Assembly districts.
The messages also said there was a concerted effort to keep Hispanics in the same Senate district in Milwaukee so if the federal court found problems, the required changes in district lines would only be minimal.
The court did rule that Republicans tried to reduce Hispanic representation in the Legislature, by spreading Latinos into two Assembly districts with a chance that none of them would be elected.
An independent evaluator said the emails in question were never given to Democratic and Hispanic plaintiffs who lost a lawsuit over the redistricting package although a federal court panel told the Republicans three times to hand those documents over.
The Republicans’ law firm in the redistricting process, Michael Best and Friedrich, released the emails to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Wednesday. That was after a computer evaluator found the 34 withheld emails and told the court about them.
The judges ordered the new districts to be changed to assure one Hispanic district in Milwaukee. The rest of the maps were ruled to be constitutional.
New legal action possible
Democrats and Hispanics who lost a court battle last year over Wisconsin’s redistricting plan now say they might file another legal action.
The plaintiffs told a three-judge federal court panel Tuesday that it might seek sanctions against Michael Best and Friedrich, the law firm which helped Republicans secretly draw new Assembly and Senate districts.
Critics say the redistricting was aimed helping the GOP keep control at the State Capitol for the next decade.
After losing the main lawsuit, the plaintiffs said they had evidence showing that Republicans and their lawyers failed to follow the court’s previous orders by not releasing all documents which explained how the GOP drafted the new maps.
On Monday, Oct. 15, a computer examiner hired on behalf of Michael Best identified 34 GOP emails that were never turned over. They were given to the plaintiffs and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Now, plaintiffs’ attorney Doug Poland says there are other sources that need to be checked for unreleased documents.
The emails that have already been released show that Republicans strategically tried to reduce Hispanic representation by putting Latinos in one Senate district, with the hopes that the judges would only make minor changes.
That didn’t work. The court ruled that a line be moved within two Assembly districts, so one has a majority of Hispanics to more likely assure the ethnic group’s representation in the lower house. The court did find that the other 97 Assembly districts and all 33 Senate districts met constitutional requirements.