Fed investigation finds thousands of Republican redistricting files in Wisconsin destroyed

It’s been well documented where 2012 was the year of gerrymandering where Republicans on a national scale used secretive partisan re-drawing of district boundaries to turn elections where, even though Democrats received 1.4 million more votes in House of Representatives races, Republicans gained control of the House by a 234 to 201 margin. Well-heeled conservative PACs like the Republican State Leadership Committee, part of the Koch Brothers-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, spent over $30 million nationally to get Republican-run legislatures to commandeer state and Congressional district maps to lock in a Republican majority for at least ten years and were successful in their efforts. With redistricting software available, it’s not that difficult to switch around districts to switch to preferred party lines.

When it’s done behind closed doors secretly and then the evidence is destroyed in investigations, that’s where yet another form of Republican voter disenfranchisement goes into a criminal level.

New federal court filings allege that hundreds of thousands of Republican redistricting files in Wisconsin were deleted last year, in defiance of court orders to turn over all documents. The deletions fit into a pattern of the Wisconsin GOP covering their tracks and could result in sanctions for the attorneys or individuals involved in deleting the files.

According to the April 18 court filings, a forensic analysis of computers used during redistricting indicates multiple files were deleted just after Republicans were instructed to turn them over to Democrats — but before they had actually done so.

In January 2012, after the three-judge federal panel hearing a Democratic challenge to the redistricting maps ordered Republicans to produce all redistricting-related records, someone with the user name of an aide to Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald logged-on to GOP computers and deleted files and folders. In July, just after Democrats took control of the state senate and asked for the entire redistricting folder, another Fitzgerald aide’s login was used to delete hundreds of thousands of records.

Though the legal challenge to the redistricting maps was resolved over a year ago, mounting evidence of deleted files and possible misrepresentation by Republicans and their attorneys led the court to order a forensic analysis of the computers to recover deletions and assess the level of wrongdoing.

The entire redistricting process has been marked by an unprecedented level of secrecy. And the stakes are high for the Republican legislature’s law firm, Michael Best & Friedrich, whose lawyers have been sharply criticized by the court for their handling of the case. Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus is a partner at the Wisconsin-based firm, though he is currently on leave while he leads the RNC.

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As the investigations continue, it will soon be evident that the people of Wisconsin are being taken advantage of again.