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“How to get away with Gerrymandering:” the NCGOP method

by RFNC Staff
NC Republicans attended an ALEC conference in August where attendees learned “how to gerrymander” from influential Republican lawyers including segregationist enabler Thomas Farr?

Yesterday Slate broke a story about leaked audio revealing, according to Slate, “how state lawmakers are taught to trash evidence, avoid the word gerrymander, and create an appearance of bipartisanship.” The audio originated from an August 2019 conference hosted by the notorious American Legislative Exchange Council, commonly known as ALEC. ALEC is funded by conservative megadonors like Charles Koch and the late David Koch and supports Republican state lawmakers by pushing boilerplate conservative legislation.

The North Carolina lawmakers and their staff who attended this meeting went on to draw legislative maps just one month after hearing a presentation where an influential Republican lawyer advised “if you don’t want it turned over in discovery, you probably ought to get rid of it before you go home.” These lawmakers went on to draw legislative maps as ordered by the court including Rep. Destin Hall who chaired the House’s redistricting process and a staffer for Rep. David Lewis who served as the committee’s Senior Chair. 

In one particularly troubling moment, Thomas Farr told attendees that maps cannot be neutral, noting, “every time you draw a districting line, it benefits one party and hurts the other party.” However, this claim has largely been debunked

Documented, a watchdog group that investigates corporate influence on public policy, published the full list of the nearly 1,500 people who attended the 2019 ALEC Annual meeting. Below is the list of North Carolina lawmakers or their staff who were present.

Institution

Last Name 

First Name

Title

North Carolina General Assembly

Alexander

William (Ted)

Senator

North Carolina General Assembly, Rep. Jason Saine**

Coggins

Mark

Policy Advisor

North Carolina General Assembly

Edwards

Chuck

Senator

North Carolina

Folwell

Dale

State Treasurer

North Carolina General Assembly

Hall

Destin

State Representative

North Carolina General Assembly

Hall

Kyle

Representative

North Carolina Legislature

Humphrey

Chris

Representative

North Carolina General Assembly

Jarvis

Steve

Representative

North Carolina General Assembly

Johnson

Matthew Todd

Senator

North Carolina General Assembly

Jones

Brenden

State Representative

North Carolina General Assembly

O'Steen

Kirk

Policy Advisor

North Carolina General Assembly

Perry

Jim

Senator

North Carolina General Assembly

Ross

Stephen

Representative

North Carolina General Assembly

Saine

Jason

Representative

North Carolina General Assembly

Sauls

John

Representative

North Carolina General Assembly

Sawyer

Vickie

Senator

North Carolina General Assembly

Stevens

Sarah

State Representative

North Carolina General Assembly

Taylor

Lynn

Legislative Assistant, Rep. Steve Jarvis*

* Taylor previously worked as former Rep. Bill Brawley’s Legislative Assistant.
** Coggins, listed here as a policy advisor for Rep. Saine, is listed as a staffer for Rep. David Lewis on the NCGA Website.

It is not surprising that ALEC is the organization that taught our Republican lawmakers how to gerrymander and get away with it. Their influence has shaped the right-wing takeover of the state.  ALEC shaped legislation ranging from changes to NC’s tax code that benefitted corporations and the wealthy by shifting taxes onto the middle class to a so-called campus free speech bill designed to punish protestors. ALEC also has ties to North Carolina’s arch-conservative leader Art Pope through the mysterious Bradley Foundation. However, the fact that legislators who attended an ALEC conference went on to shape a process that was supposed to be nonpartisan should be concerning for everyone who cares about fair and free elections.