Luxury cabanas atop Austin’s JW Marriott kept state legislators cool poolside as August-in-Texas temperatures soared above 103 degrees during each day of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s 2019 annual meeting. The gathered Republican officials could enjoy a $14 rooftop Peppered Paloma cocktail with Patrón silver, housemade grapefruit poblano soda, and Chilean salt, all while gazing over Lady Bird Lake and the nearby state Capitol, or catching a ballgame on the cabana’s 55-inch private TV.
Downstairs, meanwhile, five of the GOP’s most seasoned redistricting minds and über-lawyers would teach them the finer points of tilting maps and drawing districts that would allow them to retain such spoils for another decade.
Slate has obtained an exclusive audio recording of the closed-door panel called “How to Survive Redistricting,” moderated by influential Republican lawyer Cleta Mitchell. The panel’s four experts—Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation, North Carolina election lawyer Thomas Farr, former Georgia Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, and Texas state Rep. Phil King—are among the architects and defenders of some of the most notorious gerrymanders and voter suppression plans of this decade.