@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

Who pays for politicos?

Posted July 21, 2011

A top-tier GOP redistricting expert is being paid with public dollars to draw new districts that will give an advantage to Republicans.

Tom Hofeller was Redistricting Chairman for the Republican National Committee from the 1980s through the early 2000s. He’s now a mapping consultant, one of the top experts in the political arena.

State Senate Redistricting Chairman Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, confirmed today Hofeller is being paid through the General Assembly’s budget. Rucho said the payments will go through the law firm they’ve hired, charged to the state as an expense. “That’s how it’s done,” Rucho said.

Unless the attorneys send lawmakers a detailed bill with Hofeller’s contract broken out, it may never be known how much tax money was spent on it.

Rucho was quick to point out that Democrats are benefiting from taxpayer money, too. He says $64,000 has been allocated to the Legislative Black Caucus for attorneys and expenses to draw their own set of maps. “We never got that,” Rucho said of the GOP.

He said $32,000 has been spent to date, but the Legislative Black Caucus has yet to produce a map. “What did the people get?” he asked.

Dems in 2001

During the last redistricting cycle in 2001, Democrats were in charge. They hired political consultant Kevin LeCount to manage their legislative redistricting efforts.

LeCount estimates he was paid about $102,000 for 17 months of work, averaging around $6,000 a month. But taxpayers didn’t foot the bill.

LeCount says Democratic leaders at the time set up a special party-related organization to raise money to pay for his services. He said the DCCC contributed some of the funding for his work, too. But he said national party leaders were not involved in drawing the maps.

“They gave no advice on what this or that district should look like,” LeCount said, even at the congressional level.

LeCount said he did have a small contract with the General Assembly in 2004, when the maps he helped draw were headed to DC for pre-clearance for the third time. Democrats hired outside legal counsel to manage the process, and LeCount said he was paid about $3000 in public money to explain the maps to the attorneys who would defend it.

Party or public?

So who should pay for redistricting help?

Redistricting expert Tim Storey with the National Conference of State Legislatures isn’t sure there's any “norm” for how other legislatures pay their mapmaking help. That’s partly because states have such a wide variety of redistricting processes.

“It’s not uncommon for states to use outside consultants and legal counsel,” Storey said, but he said NCSL has never taken a survey to see who pays for them.

NC Center for Voter Education director Damon Circosta wants to see the state move to a nonpartisan redistricting process. He says this is one more reason lawmakers should consider it for the next cycle in 2020.

“Partisan gerrymandering is never good for voters,” he said. “But even in the partisan system that we’ve got, there should be some modicum of restraint. When you hire somebody like this, you’re saying, ‘We’re after partisan advantage, and that’s our first and foremost priority’.”

And Circosta doesn't think taxpayers should have to bankroll that priority.

“If the goal of hiring an expert is to achieve partisan advantage, and not fair and legal maps, then it shouldn’t be publicly paid for,” Circosta said.

9 Comments

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  • marktroll Jul 25, 2011

    james two wrongs dont make a right, but now all the r's have to do is follow the rules, and all the d's say its time for the rules to change while they complain about the r's doing the SAME thing THEY did for decades.

  • driverkid3 Jul 22, 2011

    m0nky:::LeCount said he was paid about $3000 in public money to explain the maps to the attorneys who would defend it.

    Go back and read the story yourself, or did you rather conveniently overlook that tidbit? Never mind, I think I already have that answer.

  • driverkid3 Jul 22, 2011

    bpjamesncsu::...right, cause two wrongs make a right.

    Maybe not, but it sure didn't make it right when the dems did it all the time. I didn't hear all the screaming and outrage then, why now?

  • jakegoad Jul 22, 2011

    Just gotta keep throwing them out, regardless of party, until they get the message that corruption wont stand!

  • bpjamesncsu Jul 22, 2011

    driverkid3...right, cause two wrongs make a right. I thought we voted Repubs in because the Democrats were two political. Time to switch again. Maybe one of these days we'll actually have adults in office.

  • marktroll Jul 22, 2011

    ya mean, once them ole repub's were charged with drawin dose maps' dey hired somebody dat had done it before????

  • m0nky Jul 22, 2011

    did you even try to read the article, driverkid3?

    "LeCount estimates he was paid about $102,000 for 17 months of work, averaging around $6,000 a month. But taxpayers didn’t foot the bill.

    LeCount says Democratic leaders at the time set up a special party-related organization to raise money to pay for his services. He said the DCCC contributed some of the funding for his work, too. "

    basic reading comprehension...

  • SARCASTICLES Jul 21, 2011

    If the NCGOP was a hussy, it'd be brazen. ;)

  • driverkid3 Jul 21, 2011

    Silly question. Who paid when the dems did it?