Friday, December 02, 2005


The GOP sleaze can run but it can't hide. Not anymore.

Extraordinary news from both Sarah and Ken from the Washington Post and Houston Chronicle today. Now we know what we have suspected all along. Texas was illegally gerrymandered. The architect? None other than the GOP's leading twisted crook and slime ball - DeLay. DeLay of course worked with a little help from fellow crooks -Bush, Rove and Hughes. This is a hot read. LS

From Sarah: Another article in the Houston Chronicle and the state TDP is jumping on this with fire and quickly! There's also an article on it in the Washington Post


Dear Fellow Democrats,

What Democrats in Texas have long suspected has now been confirmed -
political appointees in the Bush Administration conspired with Tom
DeLay, Rick Perry, and Speaker Tom Craddick to deny the voting rights
of Texans in their mid-decade congressional redistricting scheme.
The following release from the Lone Star Project outlines information
obtained from an internal Department of Justice (DOJ) memo that
recommended an official DOJ Voting Rights objection to Tom DeLay's
redistricting plan based on illegal statewide retrogression of
minority voting strength, as determined by DOJ voting rights legal
experts and their Section Chief. This story also made many Texas
newspapers this morning - if you missed it, you can read it here -


Instead of filing a DOJ Voting Rights objection that would have
tossed out the DeLay map, Bush political appointees overruled their
legal experts, issued a hush order, and hid this memo from the public
for almost two years – and now we know why. The memo validates what
Democrats, African American and Hispanic advocates have argued in the
legislature and in Court for years, that the DeLay- Perry-Craddick
map illegally violates minority voting rights in several regions of
the state.

Republicans at all levels – from the State Representatives and
Senators who voted for the plan all the way up to Bush Administration
who hid information and rejected the advice of legal experts – are
complicit in this effort to ignore the law and the facts in their
lust for political gain. And now we have confirmed that meant
illegally denying minority voting rights and dividing communities of
interest, then hiding the evidence,

The actions of these Republican conspirators show that they hold all
voters - and the most fundamental principles of our democracy - in
contempt. One of the political appointees who overruled the DOJ legal
experts actually was involved in striking African Americans from
Florida voter rolls in the disputed 2000 Florida election. The legal
challenge to Texas congressional redistricting plan is pending review
by the U.S. Supreme Court. I will keep you updated about any new

Very truly yours,
Charles E. Soechting


December 2, 2005

“Hidden” DOJ Memo Details Texas Voting Rights Violations

Bush political appointees overruled experts to approve illegal DeLay
redistricting plan

The Lone Star Project has obtained an internal memo written by U.S.
Department of Justice voting rights experts on December 12, 2003.
The memo details major voting rights violations under the
redistricting plan Tom DeLay forced through the Texas State
Legislature in 2003. The document is under “quarantine” within the
Justice Department and its authors were put under a “gag order” to
prevent public, or even internal, discussion of the memo. An
examination of the memo makes clear what the Republicans want to hide
and confirms long-held suspicions by minority rights advocates that
Bush political operatives ignored the law, ignored the facts, and
were willing accomplices in the political crime against minority
voters that DeLay orchestrated in Texas.

In a seventy-three page memo, seven Justice Department voting rights
experts and their section chief unanimously recommended that the
Department of Justice file a formal objection to the DeLay plan under
Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Their recommendation directly
and unambiguously describes how the DeLay plan illegally reduces
minority voting strength in Texas to advance the partisan goals of
DeLay and the Republican Party.

The DOJ expert’s recommendation was overruled by two Bush
Administration political appointees, Hans von Spakovsky and Brad
Schlozman. Spakovsky is a political operative who has written
extensively advocating widely criticized voting changes that make it
more difficult for minorities to register and vote. Prior to his
DOJ appointment, Spakovsky worked as part of the infamous Voter
Integrity Team which worked to remove African Americans from the
voter rolls in Florida during the 2000 General Election. (Source: New
Yorker, 9/20/2005) Schlozman, much like Michael Brown at FEMA, was
assigned to the Voting Rights Section of the Justice Department
although he had no experience in civil rights law or minority voting

Excerpts from the DOJ voting rights staff memo and section chief’s

DeLay Plan Retrogressive and Discriminatory:

· “Our examination of the proposed plan indicates that it will
lead to an impermissible retrogression in the position of minorities
with respect to their effective exercise of the electoral
franchise.” (Source: DOJ Section 5 Recommendation Memorandum,
December 12, 2003, page 31)

· The State of Texas has not met its burden in showing that the
proposed congressional redistricting plan does not have a
discriminatory effect. (Source: DOJ Section 5 Recommendation
Memorandum, December 12, 2003, page 66)

Effective Minority Seats Weakened and Eliminated:

· “with regard to minority voters’ ability to elect the
candidate of their choice – the so-called “safe” seats – there is a
net reduction of two seats.” (Source: DOJ Section 5 Recommendation
Memorandum, December 12, 2003, page 31)

· “the net result of the plan reduces by one the number of
districts in which the Hispanic minority community can “safely” elect
candidates of their choice to office.” (Source: DOJ Section 5
Recommendation Memorandum, December 12, 2003, page 31)

· “There is classic retrogression in the benchmark District 23
(Bonilla)…With the extreme level of polarization in the district,
Hispanic voters simply no longer have any ability to elect their
candidate of choice.” (Source: DOJ Section 5 Recommendation
Memorandum, December 12, 2003, page 68)

· “black voters have the ability to elect the candidates of
their choice in 18 (Jackson Lee), 24 (Frost), 25 (Bell), and 30
(Johnson). In the proposed plan, black voters can no longer elect
their candidate of choice in proposed 24 (Frost). (Source: DOJ
Section 5 Recommendation Memorandum, December 12, 2003, page 31)

· “moreover, while proposed 15 (Hinojosa) is no longer a
“safe” district, it is not a total loss; it moves from the “safe”
category to the “coalitional” category.” (Source: DOJ Section 5
Recommendation Memorandum, December 12, 2003, page 31)

· In sum, the proposed plan reduces the level of minority
voting strength because it eliminates the ability that minority
voters have in Benchmark 15 (Hinojosa), 23 (Bonilla) and 24 (Frost)
to elect candidates of choice. In each of these districts, the state
failed to follow its traditional redistricting principles preserving
communities of interest and forbidding fragmentation or packing of
minority voters.” (Source: DOJ Section 5 Recommendation Memorandum,
December 12, 2003, page 69)

Overwhelming Minority Opposition:

· “Of the 55 African American and Hispanic legislators in the
legislature, 53 voted against the redistricting plan.” (Source: DOJ
Section 5 Recommendation Memorandum, December 12, 2003, page 11)

· “We have either met with or spoken to 22 state house
representatives and 13 state senators, of whom 14 are Hispanic, 11
are African American and nine are Anglo. Of the minority legislators
to whom we talked, all but two opposed the redistricting
plan.” (Source: DOJ Section 5 Recommendation Memorandum, December
12, 2003, page 11)

· “In total, the Section received 335 [written] comments
against the proposed plan, none in favor of it.” (Source: DOJ
Section 5 Recommendation Memorandum, December 12, 2003, page 11)

Staff Experts’ Recommendation:

· “For the reasons set forth above, we recommend that you
interpose an objection of H.B.3, which provides for the redistricting
of the congressional districts in Texas….” (Source: DOJ Section 5
Recommendation Memorandum, December 12, 2003, page 71)

Section Chief Concurrence:

· “Our review indicates that the factors identified as relevant
to each prong of the totality of circumstances test demonstrates that
the plan is retrogressive.” (Source: DOJ Section 5 Recommendation
Memorandum, Section Chief Concurrence, December 12, 2003, page 71)

· “in the end we concluded there was a net reduction of one
“safe” Hispanic seat and one “safe” black seat…” (Source: DOJ
Section 5 Recommendation Memorandum, Section Chief Concurrence,
December 12, 2003, page 72)

At the insistence of Tom DeLay, the Texas Legislation took the
unprecedented step of redrawing Texas congressional district lines in
2003. DeLay had been infuriated at the inability of GOP candidates to
unseat long-time Democratic incumbents and wanted to redraw the
districts to guarantee more GOP-held seats. In 2002, he had
engineered a political plan, which included the money laundering
scheme that led to his indictment, to insure a Republican majority in
the State House which he would later use to redraw congressional
lines. DeLay didn’t hide his intentions when he said, “I am the
majority leader and I want more seats.” (Source: Washington Post,

The Texas Redistricting case gained national attention when, at
different times, Democrats in the Texas State House and Texas State
Senate left the State of Texas and caucused first in Ardmore,
Oklahoma and later in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to block action on the
DeLay plan. Ultimately, after direct intervention by DeLay, and
support from top Bush aides, Karen Hughes and Karl Rove, Republican
leaders in Texas changed legislative rules and forced through the
redistricting plan.( Source: Houston Chronicle 7/11/03 and Dallas
Morning News 7/8/03)

Once the plan was forced through the State Legislature, it was
submitted for review by the U.S. Department of Justice. It is now
clear that professionals at DOJ determined that the plan violated the
Voting Rights Act and recommended that the department file an
objection. Their recommendation was overruled by political
appointees. When the plan was challenged in federal court, the
approval by the Department of Justice shifted the burden of proof to
those opposing the plan, and was cited by both the state and the
bench as a key element in the case. Had DOJ filed an objection to the
plan as was recommended by its voting rights experts, it is unlikely
that it would have been approved by the federal court. The legal
challenge to the DeLay plan is now pending review by the U.S. Supreme

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