For months, Ohio Republicans met in secret in a hotel room they called “the bunker” to draw up congressional and state legislative districts that are incredibly favorable to Republicans. Democrats, the public and the media were kept in the dark during the process. Emails obtained by Plunderbund show Ohio’s Republicans were so concerned with secrecy that were willing to lie to reporters.
An important part of map-drawing process is the development of political indexes for the newly proposed districts. These indexes identify how many likely Republican and Democratic voters are contained in each district. They provide a quick way of determining whether the districts were created to be competitive or gerrymandered to favor one specific political party. They also allow for a comparison of the competitiveness of the old district and the newly-drawn one.
Like everything else during the redistricting process, Republicans withheld this information from the public, even though they shared it internally.
On Sept. 18th, Communications Director for House Republicans Michael Dittoe received an email titled “Index Analysis of Proposed Districts” on his personal Google Mail account from Heather Mann, one the two Republican consultants charged with creating the new maps. The email contained summary information about how many Republican-leaning districts they had created. It also contained two attachments with the latest index numbers for the House and Senate districts they had developed.
Eight days later Thomas Suddes, journalism professor at Ohio University and a columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, emailed Dittoe asking for a copy of the indexes. Later that day Dittoe responded claiming he did “not have the ‘index’ numbers for the various House and Senate seats” even though he’d received that exact data a week earlier. The full emails are included below.
In short: a reporter asked the Republican communications director for information that is vital to providing a thorough analysis of the new political boundaries and he straight up lied about not having the information.
Over the next few months you’re going to hear a lot of distortion and misinformation coming from Republicans about the redistricting reforms being proposed by Issue 2 / Voters First, but the main question you need to ask is this: do you want an independent panel of citizens drawing competitive districts? Or a bunch of partisan hacks hiding in secret bunkers and drawing gerrymandered districts that favor their own party – all while lying to the press?
For a detailed look at more Republican abuses during the redistricting process check out Ohio Redistricting Transparency Report – The Elephant in the Room.
EMAIL FROM MANN TO DITTOE – SEPT. 18, 2011
Subject: Index Analysis of Proposed Districts
From: Heather Mann <firstname.lastname@example.org> Sun, Sep 18, 2011 at 12:19 PM
To: Troy J <email@example.com>, Mike Dittoe <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Ben Yoho <email@example.com>, Michael Lenzo <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Chad Hawley <email@example.com>
Cc: Ray DiRossi <firstname.lastname@example.org>
2 attachments: “2011 Proposed House Indexes.xls” and “2011 Proposed Senate Indexes.xls”
Attached is a helpful analysis of pre and post proposed House Districts.
UNIFIED ANALYIS Current House Districts Proposed House Districts
Number 01 Seats 50+ 61 62 (up 1 seat)
Number 01 Seats 52+ 48 57 (up 9 seats)
Number of Seats 55+ 36 44 (up 8 seats)
2008 Presidential Index Current House Districts Proposed House Districts
Number of Seats 50+ 44 53 (UP 9 seats)
Number of Seats 52+ 41 45 (up 4 seats)
Number of Seats 55+ 31 35 (up 4 seats)
A few statistical blurbs:
• We are now have a majority of seats that lean Republican (50% or better) on 2008 Presidential numbers.
• Previously, to retain a 50+ seat majority under 2008 Presidential year conditions, we had to win all seats
above a 49.14%; now we only have to hold 50 or more seats that are 50.94% or better .
Heather N. Mann
xxxx City Park Avenue, Apt. X
Columbus, Ohio 43206
(614) xxx-xxxx EXHIBIT
EMAIL FROM DITTOE TO SUDDES – SEPT. 26, 2011
I do not have the “index” numbers for the various House and Senate seats but I have attached the black voting-age population statistics for both chambers. I hope the information is helpful. Hopefully that would make me at least semi-fabulous.
House Director of Communications