Under the Ohio Constitution, all seven members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission are supposed to be on equal footing.
But in reality, only two commissioners, who have a direct stake in what new state legislative maps look like, had any real influence on how the commission drew Ohio’s new House and Senate maps, according to court documents filed as part of Ohio’s ongoing gerrymandering lawsuits.
The documents show how House Speaker Bob Cupp and Senate President Matt Huffman held the process close, having their aides draw the maps in secret, preventing even other Republicans on the commission from working with them. Cupp and Huffman are chosen for their leadership positions by their fellow lawmakers, giving them a vested personal interest in what the maps end up looking like.
Meanwhile, Republican commission members Secretary of State Frank LaRose and state Auditor Keith Faber, who are elected statewide and represent a separate branch of state government, said Cupp and Huffman froze them out of the process. They didn’t know where the maps were being drawn, with LaRose only figuring it out after spotting the Republican map-drawers coming out of a state office building while out for a jog. Both Faber and LaRose complained about not having the specialized software they would need to draw and analyze maps on their own, and said they were surprised and disappointed to learn the Republican legislative leaders wouldn’t let them use theirs.
Gov. Mike DeWine, Faber and LaRose, to varying degrees, raised misgivings about the process that led to the maps, which they played no hand in developing, before voting in September to approve them anyway.