A man who helped gerrymander Ohio in 2011 with “last minute ‘tweaks'” to absurd Republican-drawn maps that rigged elections in favor of the GOP is now asking Ohio voters to put him in an office where he would have the opportunity to do it again.
State Rep. Keith Faber, R-Celina, has spent the last 17 years in the Ohio Statehouse wielding influence as a state representative, then a state senator, then Ohio Senate President, and now a state representative again. He is as establishment as they come in an era where Ohioans’ wages have stagnated and drug addiction has riddled the landscape.
And while everyday Ohioans have been struggling to make ends meet, Republicans were hunkered down in hotel rooms scheming over redistricting maps and how to draw the field to their political advantage, an explosive report at Cleveland.com last week has now shown.
From the report:
For weeks in 2011, state-paid contractors, on leave from their public jobs for Republican lawmakers, worked secretly in a hotel room described as the “bunker” to create political maps aimed at creating safe Republican districts for most of Ohio’s congressional delegation.
The maps, drawn in part with guidance from national Republican Party leaders and the staff of U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner, often disregarded community concerns and instead focused on political gains by creating districts that in some cases weave more than 100 miles across the state.
It worked. In three election cycles since, no seat has changed party hands – a 12-4 GOP majority despite a much closer overall vote.
The story includes an email that shows Faber, who is running for Ohio Auditor in 2018, was one of many Republicans to conspire in the effort to rig the electoral maps with gerrymandered districts.
An email from Faber’s predecessor as Senate President, Tom Niehaus, shows Neihaus apologizing to former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner’s man in the “bunker,” Tom Whatman, and GOP map-rigger, Ray DiRossi, about input from Faber and state Sen. Chris Widener, R-Springfield.
“Sorry about the last minute ‘tweaks” from Faber and Widener,” Niehaus groveled to Team Boehner, which had taken the lead in rigging the maps.
Fast-forward to September 2017, when Faber told Cleveland.com: “I think it’s a good idea to take district drawing out of the hands of folks so they’re not drawing their own lines.”
Faber’s hypocrisy is strident and shameless. He knows the jig is up and Ohioans are sick of him and other Republicans rigging elections to their advantage. So now he’s back-peddling so fast his legs might fall off.
The Ohio Auditor is one of three statewide offices that gets a vote in deciding on redistricting maps after each U.S. Census every 10 years. With the next census in 2020, whoever is elected Ohio Auditor in 2018 will play a critical role in deciding whether Ohio voters will see fair districts or districts rigged for political advantage.
Ohio Democratic Party Chair David Pepper said last week that the Cleveland.com report details the appalling back room process by which Ohio’s legislative districts were created and just how thoroughly corrupted our state’s democracy has become.
“Gerrymandering has disenfranchised millions of Ohioans, and the callous manner in which the needs and interests of everyday Ohioans were ignored in this process should shock and offend all of us,” Pepper said. “Time and again, Keith Faber has proven himself to be nothing more than a self-interested creature of Ohio’s broken democracy and an enemy of honest and transparent government.”
Pepper called for more details on the nature of these “tweaks” Faber made to Ohio’s district maps.
“Keith Faber clearly believes in hidden, ‘bunker-style’ partisan games, and the people of Ohio have the right to know the nature of the ‘tweaks’ that Faber created in his district to serve himself – especially given that he now seeks to sit on Ohio’s next redistricting commission,” Pepper said.
Meanwhile, Democratic Ohio Auditor candidate Zack Space has centered his campaign on fighting for fair districts and an end to gerrymandering in Ohio.
In a candid interview with Plunderbund last month, Space spoke about how gerrymandering disenfranchises voters and radicalizes political discourse.
“A lot of different factors should go into how these (district) lines are drawn: Geographic consistency, cultural consistency, economic consistency,” he said. “Political gain is not one of the factors.”