Judge orders Republican emails released in Texas redistricting battle

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August 15, 2011

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By Jimmy Ardis

AUSTIN, Texas: Over 400 emails between key Republican political figures in Texas have been ordered released by a federal judge in a battle over the state's redistricting plans. The emails in question were sent during the period from October 2010 and June 2011 between members of the Texas congressional delegation, the Texas State Legislature, and their respective staffs.[1] Democrats requested the emails in an effort to accumulate evidence against Republican-drawn redistricting maps. Republicans objected to releasing the emails as evidence, claiming they were constitutionally privileged congressional communication.[1] On Thursday the judge rejected Republican claims of constitutional protection and ordered the emails to be unsealed.

The emails show Republican lawmakers and their staffs negotiating and discussing possible scenarios for the districts. One particular email exchange revolved around redrawing San Antonio congressional districts - specifically the makeup of districts currently represented by US Representatives Lamar Smith and Francisco "Quico" Canseco. An email from Representative Lamar Smith to his lawyer asks if would “it help Quico on the margin if I gave him 3k more in Bexar (either GOP or Hispanics) and took Edwards [County] in exchange.”[2] Smith's lawyer replied that Canseco's district “is barely performing (or not depending on your measure) right now; add [Republicans] (which will be Anglos) and you put a neon sign on it telling the court to redraw it. Bring down your numbers and you'll have a Dem opponent every time. And they won't be Lainey Melnick.”[2] The referenced "exchange" never occurred but Democrats point to the emails as evidence of foul play.

It is unclear at this point what (if any) affect the emails will have on the federal court's review of Texas's redistricting plans.

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