Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Scraping the bottom of the barrel: AZGOP trying to dupe minorities into supporting continued GOP legislative supermajority

By now, most observers in Arizona is familiar with the tactics of the Arizona Republican Party to undermine the independence of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC).

They've cast aspersions upon the integrity of the Independent chair of the AIRC as well as one of the Democratic members.

They've tried to intimidate the AIRC by flooding the meetings of the Commission with tea party types who heckle and jeer the Commission and any members of the public who testify in favor of competitive districts.

They've gotten their Attorney General, Tom Horne, to begin an investigation into the AIRC.  (Of course, he probably wants to be careful - if it appears that he is misusing his office for partisan purposes, it would just invite direct federal intervention.  And not just into the redistricting process.)

While those efforts are ongoing, they haven't swayed the AIRC from performing its duties.

Which has led to the next step in the Republicans' campaign to maintain their stranglehold on Arizona's state government, and Arizona's future - pretending to be concerned about the rights of racial and ethnic minorities.

To that end, they've put together a "super" political action committee, or  Super PAC, called "Fair Trust."  At least, I think it's a PAC; they're being rather secretive about the whole thing.  Except when they're flaunting their secretiveness.  Which seems counterintuitive - a "secret" group boasting that it's a secret - but it's what they're doing.  Not sure why...who am I kidding?  They know full well if they get caught doing anything illegal, they've got only Tom Horne to worry about.

And that is no worry for Arizona Republicans who are contemplating doing something that may be legally murky.

However, I digress...

Fair Trust has been writing letters and sending representatives to hearing of the AIRC to testify in favor of concentrating minority voters into just a few districts, maximizing the likelihood of minority candidates winning in those districts.  What they leave unsaid (in the letters and during the hearings, anyway) is that this also minimizes the likelihood that the voices of those candidates will be heard in the legislature if they win election to office.  Those representatives include attorney David Cantelme, who has worked for the Republicans in the legislature in the past (and he wasn't exactly working to protect minority rights).

Steve at Arizona Eagletarian has been doing stellar work covering the redistricting process and has more complete coverage of Fair Trust here.

This tendency manifested itself quite clearly in the most recent session of the legislature.

While more than 48% of the members (14 out of 29 total) of the Democratic caucus of the legislature are members of racial or ethnic minorities, only 3% (two out of 61 total) of the Republican caucus are members of racial or ethnic minorities. 

As Democrats make up less than 1/3 of the legislature, that means that minorities make up 17.8% of the legislature, in a state where more than 40% of the residents belong to one or another minority group.

That has led to a legislature where Democrats and minorities aren't just outvoted on most issues, they are completely ignored - one of the things that most shocked the freshman Ds in this year's legislature is the habit of their Republican colleagues of pretending that the Ds don't exist, often refusing even to say "hi" in the halls of the Capitol.

One of the Republicans who has benefited most from the diminution of minority voters in his district, Rep. Jack Harper (R-LD4), has been putting in his two cents worth, via his Twitter account.  He's put out gems like (all copied and pasted; any spelling errors are his) -
HarperForAZ JackWHarper

At Az Ind Redistricting Commission meetings, caucasion DEM's argue for competitive districts over ensuring minority wins. #VRA

4 Aug
HarperForAZ JackWHarper

Sen. Gallardo supports Voting Rights Act that enables wins by minorities. I do to, so distrist stay lop-sided. #AIRC

3 Aug
HarperForAZ JackWHarper

As IRC is poised to dilute power of minorities in the Leg, ringer consultant brings caucasion employees to presentation.

8 Jul
Just a quick refresher, for those of you who may have dozed for the last four years or so -
- Harper is so nutty that his fellow Republicans put together a website called "Crazy Jack Harper."
- He has voted for every anti-immigrant, anti-minority, anti-everything but rich, white, and Republican bill that has come before the Arizona legislature for most of the last decade, first as a member of the senate and now as a member of the house of representatives.
- He has sponsored or co-sponsored most of the same.
- One of his pet projects has been the creation of a state-sanctioned anti-immigrant vigilante force.  He's pushed this or variants of it for years in various forms - bills, resolutions, strike-everything amendments, whatever he thought might slip through.  This past session, a mild version, SB1495, passed into law, setting up a framework for future mischief.
In short, he has never cared about the Voting Rights Act or protecting the interests of minorities, and has given no indication that he has "seen the light," repented, and become a good guy.
He has given every indication, however, that he believes that minority elected officials and candidates are dumber than he is. 
As in "dumb enough to believe the BS that he is spewing."

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