GOP consultant congratulated for helping state lawmakers rig the system

click to enlarge Contiguous as f*ck. - usf.edu
usf.edu
Contiguous as f*ck.

Last night, the News Service of Florida reported on a damning but brief email exchange between two Republicans — one at the national and one at the state level.

The sender? Tom Hofeller of the Republican National Committee.

The recipient? Tallahassee-based political consultant Rich Heffley.
We'll call them Hoff and Heff. For brevity's sake.

In it, Hoff lauds Heff's success in "guiding the Senate through the thicket" on redistricting, something consultants really really really aren't supposed to do.

The Senate's redrawn maps are the target of a lawsuit launched by voting rights groups claiming they redrew State Senate and Congressional districts to benefit the GOP, even though Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2010 politely asking them not to do that.


An example: Congressional District 13 (where this reporter resides). During the 2012 redistricting process, most of the brown and black people, gays and students magically disappeared (or, more accurately, were given to Democratic shoo-in Kathy Castor's district). CD-13's boundary jogged northward into Dunedin, formerly the turf of GOP U.S. Rep.Gus Bilirakis. When U.S. Rep. Bill Young's death opened up the seat in the newly revised district, Democrat Alex Sink lost by 1.5 percent to Republican David Jolly (who wound up being okay, at least by GOP congressional standards). Coincidence?

But I digress.

Here is an excerpt of News Service of Florida's report on the Hoff-Heff exchange.

"Congratulations on guiding the Senate through the thicket," wrote Hofeller, a redistricting consultant at the RNC, in the brief email to Heffley. "Looks as if, so far, the Democrats have not realized the gains they think they were going to get."

The email came on April 27, 2012, the same day that the Florida Supreme Court signed off on a revised Senate map. Justices had rejected a first draft of the redistricting plan, saying it violated the Fair Districts amendment dealing with legislative districts.

"Thanks. Big win," Heffley replied to Hofeller. "Worse case minus 2. 26-14."

That appears to be an allusion to the change in the Senate GOP majority that could be expected under the map. At the time, Republicans held a 28-12 edge in the chamber. In fact, Republicans won a 26-14 majority in each of the last two elections, though the GOP currently has 25 seats after former Sen. John Thrasher resigned to become president of his alma mater, Florida State University. Republicans are likely to regain the Senate seat in a special election next year.

Sadly, the only thing surprising about this is the fact that these emails are seeing the light of day. 

The email exchange could ultimately be used as evidence that lawmakers ignored the Fair Districts amendment as they redrew the districts in 2012.

About The Author

Scroll to read more News Feature articles
Join the Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.

Newsletters

Join Creative Loafing Tampa Bay Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected]