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A peek behind the scenes

Want to know what the Republicans were thinking during redistricting? Here you go.

Emails unsealed by a federal judge show that key Republicans involved in Texas congressional redistricting bickered over strategy and actively considered bypassing the Justice Department two months before the Legislature passed a redrawn congressional map.

More than 400 pages of emails sent by Republican leaders between October 2010 and June show frequent contact between key staffers for Texas House Speaker Joe Straus and U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, who was chosen by the Texas congressional delegation to be their point person on redistricting. The staffers were swapping map proposals, news stories and questions about the law via email.


Two months before either redistricting committee in the Texas Legislature had voted out a congressional map, key Republicans were considering bypassing the traditional Justice Department approval, opting to take the fight over redistricting straight to federal court in Washington, D.C.

“For (example), we agree that we are not going to seek (Justice Department) preclearance but will go to a three-judge panel in D.C.,” Smith wrote in an email sent April 3 to Denise Davis, chief of staff for Straus.

Davis responded that she would look into the matter the next day.

And indeed, that’s what happened. Since that first article came out, there’s been some followup in the Express News, and will likely be more as everyone pores over the data. If you have the time and the inclination, Texas Redistricting has the full document dump, with selected highlights here, here, here, and here. Happy trawling!

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One Comment

  1. trowaman says:

    The biggest blow in all this is some of those e-mails were links to maps made by the users on SwingStateProject with subject lines along the lines of “check out this good idea.”

    Dave’s Redistricting App has proven to be too powerful for the hands of the common man.