Report: Leaked emails show behind the scenes GOP consultant influence over Fla. redistricting



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TALLAHASSEE, Florida — Hundreds of pages of emails show a handful of Republican political consultants' efforts to influence Florida's redistricting process, according to report published Sunday from the Scripps-Tribune Capital Bureau.

The news organization obtained emails showing the consultants looked for ways to put more minority voters in specific districts (http://bit.ly/1toW9I0). The emails were released as part of a lawsuit by several organizations alleging the 2012 redistricting process sought to pack Democrat-leaning minority voters into a few districts to make other seats more reliably Republican.

The Gainesville consulting firm Data Targeting fought to block the emails' release, but the Florida Supreme Court ruled against Data Targeting and the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an appeal Friday. The documents were released as part of the lawsuit brought by groups including the League of Women Voters, alleging lawmakers drew congressional maps to favor Republicans. Such efforts counter anti-gerrymandering requirements in the Florida Constitution. Although the lawsuit focused on congressional districts, many of the emails referenced statehouse districts.

Data Targeting founder Pat Bainter said his firm was not a named party in the lawsuit, so he should not be forced to turn over the private correspondence.

The emails also outline GOP consultants' strategy to recruit people to submit redistricting maps identical to the maps they were drawing up. And they show the consultants concluded former state Sen. John Thrasher did not live in his St. Johns County-based district, despite his claims to the contrary.

"He actually lives in Clay County and would hope to end up there," Bainter wrote in one email.

It was not immediately clear whether the 538 pages of emails included all the emails requested in the lawsuit.

Last summer, a Leon County Circuit judge ordered the legislature to redraw several districts.


Information from: Naples (Fla.) Daily News, http://www.naplesnews.com

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