How long does it take to gerrymander a congressional district? It seems the short answer is: about 8 minutes.
If you have any doubt about the sincerety or correctness of the claims of gerrymandering made by Ohio’s Democrats against their Republican counterparts responsible for redrawing our state’s congressional maps, then you must read the report put out by Ohio Citizen Action this morning.
The Ohio Redistricting Transparency Report documents some amazing, unbelievable, thoroughly disgusting, and likely-illegal activities involving those responsible for redrawing Ohio’s congressional districts.
It’s a long report, but worth every second you’ll spend reading it.
We’re going to dig into it in more depth over the next few days, but I thought I’d quickly cover one the examples around how lines were drawn for the 16th district.
You would expect that the Republicans drawing the districts would take proper care to ensure they were at least maintain the APPEARANCE of fairness. But as you can quickly tell by the shape of these districts, that just isn’t the case.
As we wrote back in October, the 15th was designed to specifically carve out downtown columbus and its large banks and insurance companies for the district of bank lobbyist Steve Stivers, who conveniently sold his old house and moved into his new district weeks before the new maps were announced.
And now it looks like a similar trick was used with the 16th. Not only that, but the changes to the map were specifically requested by staffers for John Boehner – and the change was made in a matter of minutes.
Where the 15th carved out for a number of companies for Stivers, it seems the 16th was modified to give its Representative, Republican Jim Renacci, access to one company, Timken, whose owners are some of the largest Republican donors in the state.
Over the past decade the Timken family have given nearly $2 MILLION to Republicans in Ohio alone, including $123,470 to Kasich/Taylor and another $10K for their transition fund last year.
And according to Ohio Citizen Action, “Timken executives and their spouses, Timken’s board members, Timken family members, and a PAC associated with Timken have contributed over $120,000 to Renacci during the past two years”
Also worth mentioning: Timken helped lead the push to destroy unions in Ohio in the 50’s with their failed right-to-work initiative.
The crazy part of this story isn’t just that they redrew this district specifically to keep a large donor in a very Republican-leaning district, it also how easily it seemed to be for them to do it, and how much influence John Boehner seemed to have on the process.
As Ohio Citizen Action again points out: “Tom Whatman, Chief Executive of Team Boehner, requested this carve out the night before HB 319 was introduced and it took only 8 minutes to get this approved!”
Here’s the email exchange that resulted in the change:
Sept 12 e-mails
9:28 PM – Whatman to Kincaid and DiRossi: “Guys: really really sorry to ask but can we do a small carve out down 77 in Canton and put Timken hq in the 16th. I should have thought about this earlier.”
9:36 PM – Kincaid: “Yeah, sure, no problem. Ray/Heather, do you want me to do it and send the file over, or will y’all do it?”
9:36 PM – DiRossi: “You do and get equivalence file to us asap. Thanks.”
9:39 PM – Kincaid: “10-4”
9:41 PM – Whatman: “Thanks guys. Very important to someone important to us all. I really should have thought of this.”
A look at a close up of the carved out section of map shows clearly that no people live in this area. Its only significant feature is the location of the Timken headquarters.
Do you need any more proof the congressional districts drawn by Ohio’s Republicans are not fair? Seems unlikely, but there are 21 more pages in Ohio Citizen Action’s report that should help you make up your mind.
Go read it. And once you have, here’s how you can help: Sign the Petition to Stop Republican Gerrymandering.
ODP continues to collect signatures to get HB319, the bill that defined these districts, on the ballot and repealed. Sign up now to collect signatures!