Filings Suggest Redistricting Records Were Trashed

By: Brandon Larrabee News Service of Florida | Posted: December 19, 2013 3:55 AM
Florida Capitol

Groups challenging the state's new congressional districts are asking for documents and testimony explaining why the Legislature might have destroyed records that could be relevant to the case.

In a series of filings this week, the League of Women Voters of Florida and its allies in the lawsuit demanded records about decisions by the House and the Senate to get rid of documents related to redistricting. The coalition of map opponents argues that the new districts violate the anti-gerrymandering Fair Districts standards approved by voters in 2010.

The coalition also notified the House and the Senate that it wants to depose someone chosen by lawmakers who can talk about the issue.

Those demands come days after the Legislature suggested in a new court filing that some records related to redistricting might have been thrown away before the lawsuit was filed. According to attorneys representing the House and Senate in the case, officials would have gotten rid of the documents under legislative rules governing which records should be preserved.

"In strict compliance with these written record-retention policies, legislative records, including records related to congressional redistricting, were sometimes, and appropriately, discarded," lawyers for the Legislature wrote. "The Legislative Parties are without knowledge of the facts and circumstances of particular communications."

That statement was part of a filing Dec. 9 that revised an earlier answer the Legislature had given to the question of whether any documents might have been destroyed. The second filing was far longer than the first answer.

"The Legislative Parties do not contend that the communications described in (questions asked by the coalition) were deleted, destroyed, lost, misappropriated, or otherwise became unavailable for production," according to the first answer, written in October. "The Legislative Parties further note that, during the legislative redistricting process, the Legislative Parties maintained and disposed of legislative records in accordance with record-retention policies embodied in the rules of the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate."

Legislative lawyers argued in the second filing that lawmakers were under no obligation to keep some redistricting records before the maps were approved because the coalition didn't ask the Legislature to keep them, the documents weren't subject to a public-records request and the groups opposed to the districts hadn't announced yet that they might sue.

Deirdre Macnab, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, criticized lawmakers for getting rid of the documents.

"After all the public comments by legislators expressing their belief that litigation was inevitable, the admission that any redistricting records were destroyed should have Florida voters up in arms," Macnab said in a statement issued late Wednesday. "Today's disclosure is just another example of those in charge abusing their power and then hiding behind the lame excuse that they didn't know what they were doing."

But in a blistering statement aimed at the coalition, House Speaker Will Weatherford denied that his chamber did anything wrong.

"Any accusation that the Florida House of Representative thwarted the law and destroyed documents is completely false," said Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, who chaired the House committee that drew the lines in 2012. "We not only complied with the letter and the spirit of the public record laws and longstanding House rules, but also went above and beyond those standards when it came to redistricting."


Tags: News, Politics

Comments (8)

10:29PM DEC 19TH 2013
i said the shredders would be working over time after the supreme court ruling. little did i know they did the shredding before they lost. what a bunch of crooks.
5:07PM DEC 19TH 2013
Brandon Larrabee and News Service of Florida showing themselves to be rather thin skinned when their ox is being gored. They and the commentors in their camp can say anything no matter how scurrilous or defaming about Democrats but apparently nothing can be said to cast aspersions on Republicans.Is Will Weatherford lying? Does Don Gaetz regularly lie? Is a core practice of the Republican Party both in Florida and nationally to use any means fair or foul, mostly foul, to gain and hold political power?
12:06PM DEC 19TH 2013
"Suggest" . . . "Suggest" . . . the GOP has admitted to destroying those records . . . the only "suggestion" in those filings is about exactly what records were destroyed . . . the GOP filings "suggest" that emails, text messages and other communications between GOP legislators were what was destroyed, potentially BEFORE the maps were even adopted . . . . illegal, perhaps not, under the retention laws they passed (sort of like those other self-serving exemptions from the Sunshine law) . . . . but unethical . . . clearly . . . as well as being absolutely . . .

Pathetic . . .
6:07PM DEC 19TH 2013
Witchdoctor confused why Frank the Racist is upset that Corinne "Go Gata" Brown won her lawsuit keeping her racially gerrymandered district in tact, thus harming her homies but she drives home to the Democratic plantation in fine, lobbyist funded style.

Bones don't like.
(but Frank the Racist does, and won't wipe the Democratic cream off his face).

Witchdoctor say "stand up and be a man Frank" - the plantation life isn't for you anymore.
10:37AM DEC 27TH 2013
when you have no argument change the subject. old political hat !
7:41PM DEC 19TH 2013
Congresswoman Brown dropped her lawsuit after teh final redistricting plan was released. Yes Brown's District is a travesty, as is Congressman Ted Yoho the yahoo's. Florida's 2014 State Elections should have far more State Repesentative and Senator districts with competion if the redistricting had been done appropiately as well as the Congressional districts. Witch doctor, are you really an adult?
8:03PM DEC 19TH 2013
Who knows . . . all we know is that he's a blatant racist, hiding behind a demonizing racial stereotype of the first black President, with his plantation references and faux slave uneducated phrases that he continues to use on SSN (mild here, worse in previous comments) . . . . and SSN refuses to do anything about it . . . . so we continue to have his 4th grade, childish taunts on SSN . . . . he's a bad joke . . . and he can't even realize the joke's on him . . . .

Pathetic . . .
9:43PM DEC 19TH 2013
Goes directly to my point in the post I did att he top of the thread. On this thread and another , the Southerland-Graham, the good folks at SSN saw fit to strike my first , albeit very snarky, disparaging their team with facts posts. Bustin on a Dem fine including racist and patently false to the point of approaching libel remarks. Bust on a Republican, absolute horror.

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