It certainly appears that Governor Brewer is laying the ground work needed to remove the IRC Commissioners.
Gov. Jan Brewer on Wednesday gave the five members of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission a Monday deadline to respond to allegations that show "substantial neglect of duty and gross misconduct in office."
I had lunch today with a friend who asked if this was just an argument among lawyers, or if it was actually clear that the Commissioners had violated the Constitution. It's a great question and the answer is that it's clear that the commissioners have engaged in substantial neglect of duty and gross misconduct in office.
Let's start with the open meeting violations.
Capitol Times reporter Christian Palmer is the one who broke the story.
Prior to voting to award a lucrative contract to a mapping consultant on June 29, the Independent Redistricting Commission had spent as much time in closed door executive meetings as it had before the public.
In fact, the Commission spent 37 HOURS in executive session and when they finally came into the open, it's clear that they knew which company was going to win the mapping contract. Tom Horne read the Capitol Times article and started an investigation. The IRC then refused to cooperate with the investigation. Read the whole article. There's no doubt that the IRC made its most controversial decision behind closed doors.
Now let's move to the maps themselves. Drawing the maps is the primary duty of the IRC and they have to follow very strict criteria. They are not allowed to gerrymander the maps. The districts have to be compact, respect communities of interest and natural boundaries. Then the IRC can make the maps competitive if and only if they can do so without significant detriment to the other criteria.
This means that it's ok to have maps that are compact and respect communities of interest and natural boundaries...but aren't competitive.
But it's UNCONSTITUTIONAL to have maps that are competitive, but are not compact, respect communities of interest and natural boundaries.
The Congressional maps fall into the second--clearly illegal--category. The districts are blatantly and outrageously gerrymandered.
In short, the IRC met illegally in order to hire a consulting firm that would illegally gerrymander the districts to favor Democrats.
I have not heard one credible denial of the above allegations. Those who wish to defend the IRC simply engage in name calling. Here's a great example from a recent Democratic Party press release.
"The only reason 50/50 districts are a threat to Republican electoral prospects is because of the extreme, out-of-touch agenda that Arizona Republican leaders have been pursuing. Gov. Brewer should spend less time on bullying and more on job creation, and substitute real leadership for these partisan attacks. It is beneath the dignity of the governorship and not in keeping with the best interests of the state.”
That's not a defense, it's a rant. The Dems argue that competitive districts are good and Gov. Brewer is bad. Of course the Constitution says that you can't gerrymander the districts no matter how much you think they should be more competitive. I have not seen one person who argues that the IRC actually followed the requirement.
So the answer is clear the IRC Commissioners have engaged in "substantial neglect of duty and gross misconduct in office."
Governor Brewer and the Senators have a duty to remove them.