Journalism in the Public Interest

California Republicans Call for Official Investigation of Dems’ Redistricting Tactics

Early reactions to ProPublica’s report
on the ways California Democrats manipulated the state’s citizen redistricting commission split along partisan lines.


Tom Del Beccaro, chairman of the California Republican Party, talks at a Latino town hall meeting during the California Republican Party Fall Convention dinner in Los Angeles, on Sept. 17, 2011. (Chris Carlson/AP Photo)

Early reactions to ProPublica’s report on the ways California Democrats manipulated the state’s citizen redistricting commission split along partisan lines.

The Chairman of California’s Republican Party called for “an immediate and thorough investigation.”

“No fair minded person can now say the process or the result was fair,” Chairman Tom Del Beccaro said in a press release. “I am calling for an immediate and thorough investigation, by Congressional and State authorities, to get to the bottom of this obviously corrupted process.  Beyond that, the Congressional and Senate lines as drawn by the Commission should not be used in any way for the upcoming elections." (One note: The press release says our piece detailed a “relationship between [commission] members and officials from the DNC;” our story doesn’t note any such relationships.)

Del Beccaro has long been critical of the redistricting commission.

In contrast, Democratic state party chair John Burton told the San Francisco Chronicle that the story was “complete bulls..t, an absolute f..king fabrication.”

“As the chair of the party, I know the party didn’t do this…the Democratic Party didn’t do sh..t,” Burton said. “As far as I was concerned, there was nothing you could goddamned do.” (Our story detailed the maneuvering of congressional Democrats in Washington, and not state Democrats such as Burton.)   Update: Burton also released a statement calling ProPublica's report "pure fantasy."

A spokesman for the state Democratic Party did not immediately return our request for comment.

Democratic strategist Bob Mulholland also told the Chronicle that it would have been “easier to influence North Korea” than influence the redistricting commission.

I never understood the editorial rationale behind partially spelling or eliminating altogether swear words in a published story, especially when they are exact quotes from our public figures. Who’s sensibilities are being protected here?

Isn’t this just the case of “gerrymandering” districts for political advantage which has been going on forever.  Why can’t districts be formed along city, county and state lines and be permanent?

I’m a Democrat and feel vindicated, because when I lived in Texas a few years, the Republicans did the same thing.  Bottom line is our filthy politicians deserve each other, but we don’t deserve them.

Those “filthy politicians,” we must all remember, are REPRESENTSTIVES of We The People…

Ronald Allen, Isn’t this just the case of “gerrymandering” districts for political advantage which has been going on forever.  Yes it’s very definitely for political advantage.  It always is, and this answers your 2nd question. I’ve been starting to study gerrymandering, and the Reps traditionally do it much more than the Dems, and much redistricting has already been done in preparation for the 2012 election, but let’s all follow the story here about CA redistricting very carefully.  I’m very dubious about its authenticity

Ronald, the reason that district lines cannot be permanent is because the number of people in each district is often in flux. If district lines were never adjusted, some districts would end up having many more voters than other districts. This means that each citizen’s vote wouldn’t have the same weight. (If there are 5 people in my district, and 500 people in your district, and each of our districts gets a single representative, then my desires as a voter are much more represented than your desires as a voter.) Changing district lines is necessary in order to preserve the principle of “one person, one vote.”

The DCCC infiltrated this process in the exact same manner that they infiltrated MoveOn, PDA, HCAN, Center for American Progress, Color of Change, etc etc

Now all of these groups are nothing more than propaganda organs and fundraising machines for the Democratic party and do not represent the people - except those that are Democratic Party sycophants.

They worm there way in, never revealing who they really are. Then once they have gained positions of power, the new purpose of these organization becomes exclusively electing more Democrats.

Any dissenting voice is squelched. It’s their way or the highway from then on.

Once it gets down to Democrat vs. Republican, the corporations then own the discourse and both parties put us deeper in their debt and in their service.

Kudos to ProPublica for exposing this treachery!

If that’s the response from Burton, well, you know that you’re really on to something. The question as raised by your story, Is it illegal? That’s the crux. But in terms of reportorial power, that was a great piece. This will have legs!

It’s that darn ACORN again…just can’t keep’em down!

It seems to me that politcal party leadership in CA should have been REQUIRED to agree to the committee’s structure and the process including the vetting of its members as opposing attorneys buy-in to jurors in a trial situation, right?  But weren’t these simple premises spelled out in the proposition approved by CA voters?  So, if the Republicans are unhappy with the results, then it is they who are culpable.  As one of many disenfranchised CA Republicans, I find it difficult to cry foul at this stage of the game.  This “bipartisan” effort may have failed due in part to the state’s Republican leadership failing in its responsibilities to ensure that the expected results would be fairly derived and concluded in the best interests of all voters.

But of course if the process had favored Republicans, regardless of the sneaky and underhanded tactics used, all would be fair and above board to the California Republicans.  But because they presumably got beat at their own game, they have to raise a stink about it.  “IT’S NOT FAIR!”  Bull crap. 

In the end, the redistricting maps show a pretty fair representation of California overall.  There was never going to be any way to make all of the “communities of interest” happy, and the goal was never to make them all happy.  The goal was to try to accommodate as many as possible while drawing district boundaries that actually made sense, as opposed to the nonsense and extremely gerrymandered districts we’ve seen in the past:  For example, CA 50th in San Diego.  It had tentacles all over the county!

A very well reasoned retort on the Calitics website:

Californians overwhelmingly rejected Republican politics under the old districts in 2010, despite the wave of Republican victories in the rest of the country.  As the writer notes, Republicans did not win one single statewide race in 2010, and actually LOST a seat in the State Assembly. 

The writer also points out that while “Republican” districts saw the most population growth, that doesn’t mean that those who moved to those districts support Republican policies or candidates.  In fact, it’s very likely that the growth came in the form of Latino voters, who—at least in this state—are HIGHLY unlikely to vote for Republicans who so overtly hate them in the first place.

How badly did Republicans get trounced in CA in 2010?  As the writer points out, Jerry Brown won the election for governor against Republican Meg Whitman, despite the fact that the Republicans outspent the Democrats 10:1.  A pretty clear rebuke of Republicanism and Republican policies.

And as for the Rose Institute that Pro-Publica cited in the original story:  It’s a Republican funded and backed organization.  Hardly devoid of bias.

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:

Redistricting: How Powerful Interests Are Drawing You Out of a Vote

How secret money and power interests are drawing you out of a vote.

The Story So Far

Redistricting should be a way of ensuring your vote counts. If all districts have roughly the same number of people in them and are drawn to respect natural communities—neighborhoods where people share a heritage, work in the same industry, or just generally feel tied to their neighbors—voters have a chance to be represented by politicians who represent their areas’ collective interests.

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