Thursday, March 22, 2012

It Took A GOP Village To Mess Up Wisconsin's Redistricting Work

From the Federal court ruling in Milwaukee today, where the GOP-managed process took rhetorical and legal hits:

...the Republicans immediately began work in earnest, retaining the law firm of Michael Best & Friedrich LLP (“Michael Best”) to advise their caucus. Every effort was made to keep this work out of the public eye and, most particularly, out of the eye of the Democrats...

As we noted, the venue of the redistricting work was the offices of Michael Best. The actual drafters included: Adam Foltz, a staff member to Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald; Tad Ottman, a staff member to Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald; and Joseph Handrick, a consultant with the law firm of Reinhart Boerner Van Duren s.c. Others involved in the process were James Troupis, Eric McLeod, Ray Taffora, Speaker Fitzgerald, Majority Leader Fitzgerald, Sarah Troupis, Robin Vos, Senator Rich Zipperer, and Dr. Keith Gaddie...

Foltz testified that he worked with legal counsel and experts, and that Speaker Fitzgerald, Senator Fitzgerald, Robin Vos, and Senator Zipperer advised him where to draw the boundaries.

In June and July 2011, Foltz had meetings about redistricting with every single Republican member of the State Assembly. He did not meet with any Democrats. Nevertheless, he testified that it was not “a part of the goal to increase the Republican membership in the legislature.” Before his meetings with the Republicans, each person was required to sign a confidentiality agreement promising not to discuss anything that was said.

Ottman had similar meetings, conducted under the same cloak of secrecy. The drafters did not limit their outreach to public officials; they also held meetings behind closed doors with selected outsiders. In January 2011, they met with certain private business interests, including representatives from realtor and banking associations, and a hybrid state chamber of commerce called Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce.

In addition, the drafters reached out to certain members of the Latino community. They contacted Jesus Rodriguez, a co-founder and member of Hispanics for Leadership, a political organization comprised of local business people, educators, and community advocates who work toward “getting the most representation possible for the Latino community on all levels.” Rodriguez is also the President of Hispanics for School Choice, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing school choice for Hispanic children, notably through school vouchers. Hispanics for School Choice, available online at (last visited March 14, 2012).

Through Hispanics for School Choice, Rodriguez developed a professional and personal relationship with former Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen (a Republican), who presently serves as a senior advisor for another school choice advocacy organization, American Federation for Children. American Federal for Children, available online at: (last visited March 15, 2012). Troupis also contacted the Mexican American Legal Defense Education Fund (MALDEF), a national Latino civil rights organization, in an attempt to secure its support for the Republicans’ plan. He hoped to “take the largest legal fund for the Latino community off the table in any later court battle,” by courting their approval.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this.
Side note: I am disturbed to see that not all participants were listed in this excerpt. Specifically, I do not see any mention of the Law Firm of Dewey, Cheatem and Howe.