State Capitol News
Wed September 7, 2011
State's top prosecutor asks judge to force three members of independent redistricting commission to talk with investigators
By Howard Fischer
Phoenix, AZ – The inquiry involves the selection of Strategic Telemetry as the consultant to draw the maps for the new legislative and congressional districts. That move came over the objections of two Republicans on the panel who pointed to the firm's strong Democratic ties, including work for both John Kerry and Barack Obama when they were running for president. Attorney General Tom Horne said the two Republicans told investigators that Colleen Mathis, who chairs the commission, called them ahead of the meeting to line up the votes for Strategic Telemetry. More to the point, Horne said she told them she wanted a unanimous vote.
(If their votes would have given her a 5-0 vote that indicates she had also lined up the votes of the other two members. So she's either talked to two other members or four other members. And that's a violation of the Open Meeting Law. And they got specific training that told them they could not do that. They could talk to one but they could not talk to more than one.)
Horne said the testimony of the two Republicans gives him the probable cause to believe the law was violated, allowing him to demand that Mathis, the independent on the commission, and the two Democrats answer questions. And Horne said that, unlike a criminal probe, commissioners cannot claim they have a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The implications go even further.
(Not only do they have no right to refuse to testify. But if they refuse to testify -- I've cited case law in my motion -- that you can use that as a presumption that the evidence against them is correct because a reasonable person, if a false accusation was made against them, would speak up.)
Repeated calls seeking comment from the commissioners were not returned. A hearing on Horne's request is set for Oct. 3. For Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.