The Frenzy Over ProPublica’s Redistricting Report
Yesterday’s ProPublica report provocatively titled “How Democrats Fooled California’s Redistricting Commission” is — as you might imagine — causing quite a stir. Some headlines today:
- California’s ‘independent’ redistricting fiasco: a cautionary tale
- Democrats Used Underhanded Tactics in Redistricting California
- Did California Democrats Rig the Redistricting Process?
- ProPublica report sparks GOP outrage
The report alleges that California Democrats bamboozled the commission, made up of 14 members of the public chosen during a lengthy process, into drawing lines that benefited the party.
Carla Marinucci of the Chronicle reports on one of the commissioners, Connie Galambos-Malloy of Oakland, refuting the allegations:
“As a commission, we ran a very transparent process, so some of the allegations made in the story are easily disproved by a look at our website and the criteria we used,” said Connie Galambos-Malloy, one of four “decline to state” voters on the 14-member commission. “If the voters investigate, it’s clear that most of the allegations are dead wrong.”
John Myers, our Sacramento Bureau Chief who has watched the entire redistricting process from the get-go, offers his analysis of the ProPublica report in a Capital Notes blog post. Here’s an extract dealing with one the report’s allegations: that so-called astroturf groups posed as grassroots activists in order to influence the process:
ProPublica’s most detailed reporting pieces together a trail of emails and actions leading from Democratic VIPs to mysterious websites to, ultimately, testimony offered in commission hearings as representative of “community groups.” Only the commissioners themselves can truly answer whether they were conned about the identity or backers of any particular person and/or group. It’s worth noting, though, that a few weeks into the 2011 process, commission members confirmed that they were sensing patterns in public hearings of certain people who purported to be average Joes… but clearly were not. That doesn’t mean that the commissioners didn’t miss some key ‘ringers’ who showed up to plead an alleged community’s case, but it does suggest that at some level the commission was savvy enough to take some of the testimony with a grain of salt.