David Daley with the latest from the Hofeller files:
IN COURT AND IN PUBLIC, many top Republicans have denied gerrymandering gives them any advantage at all. They’ve captured state legislatures and won an edge in Congress, some have suggested, due to superior candidates, better campaigns, and natural geographic sorting that clusters Democrats in urban areas and spreads Republicans more efficiently across the suburbs and rural America.
“The problem is not district lines; the problem is weak candidates who run poor campaigns based on bad ideas,” said Chris West, spokesperson for former Virginia Speaker of the House William Howell, in 2017.
“We have better candidates, better issues and a better understanding of what our constituents want to do,” Wisconsin state Rep. Kathleen Bernier told the Wall Street Journal in the same year.
In a trove of never before published memos and emails, however, GOP leaders come clean: Their nationwide advantage in state legislatures and Congress is built on gerrymandering. And top Republican strategists and political operatives admit to weaponizing racial data and the Voting Rights Act in order to flip the South red and tilt electoral maps in their direction.
Those are among the revelations from over 70,000 documents, maps, and emails, obtained by The Intercept, that were culled from the hard drive backups of the late redistricting mastermind Thomas Hofeller. Though the exact purpose or destination — and sometimes even the author — of each memo is not always clear, the thinking revealed in the documents and drafts is illuminating. Some appear to be regular updates for Republican leadership, top stakeholders, and key donors.