More than 500-pages of emails kept secret during an ongoing redistricting legal battle shed light on the behind-the-scene efforts by a handful of GOP political consultants to influence Florida’s political lines, according to documents obtained by the Scripps-Tribune Capital Bureau.
They highlight, among other things, an early plan that would have drawn the then-longest serving GOP member of Congress out of office, the admission that former state Sen. John Thrasher did not live in his district, and a strategy to use a well-known GOP consultant to recruit people to submit maps as part of the formal process.
The Florida Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that the documents, which are from Gainesville-based GOP consulting firm Data Targeting, must be unsealed as part of a long-running redistricting lawsuit. A last-minute appeal from the firm was rejected Friday by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clearance Thomas.
The documents are scheduled to be made public on Dec. 1, but the Scripps-Tribune Capital Bureau obtained copies of the 538 pages.
The underlying redistricting lawsuit was filed by a coalition of plaintiffs, including the League of Women Voters of Florida. They said the state’s congressional maps were drawn to favor Republicans during the 2012 redistricting process, which is at odds with anti-gerrymandering provisions in the state constitution.
Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis agreed, tossing the maps after a 12-day trial this summer. During a special legislative session, lawmakers redrew the maps, which Lewis approved. That ruling is being appealed by plaintiffs.