North Carolina Republicans were lying to a federal judge when they claimed they were unable to fix the state’s racially gerrymandered legislative map in time for a special election, a new court filing alleged Thursday.
In 2017, a judge in the case ordered the special elections so that new legislative boundaries could be drawn. A subsequent court ruling delayed the vote, which allowed the GOP to hold onto its super-majority in the legislature for an additional year.
Republican legislators also told the court that race had not been a factor when they drew up the unconstitutional map — a statement that newly discovered documents showed to be false.
The documents were part of a treasure trove of data found on four hard drives and 18 thumb drives containing more than 75,000 files that once belonged to deceased Republican gerrymandering mastermind Thomas Hofeller.
Those hard drives — which Hofeller’s daughter discovered and are now in the possession of the advocacy group Common Cause — also revealed that the President Donald Trump’s administration was not truthful about its motivation in adding a citizenship question to the upcoming U.S. Census.
“The implication that state legislators willfully misled the court about their ability to draw new maps for a special election to preserve ill-gotten super-majorities in both chambers for another year raises serious questions about the legitimacy of their hold on power in the state,” former Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.
An arm of Holder’s organization, the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, is financing the Common Cause lawsuit.
“They should now explain to the court — and the people of North Carolina — why they are so intent on manipulating the election process for their own benefit,” he added.
After they had once again secured their super-majority, Republican lawmakers in North Carolina pushed a number of controversial constitutional amendments, including a voter ID law, changes to the state ethics and elections board, and a measure that stripped powers of the governor to appoint judges.
Hofeller’s documents show that he had been creating remedial legislative maps since August 2016 and that the work was almost finished. By June 2017, a new state Senate plan was over 97% complete and the new House plan was over 90% complete.
The documents also show that Hofeller zeroed in on the racial composition of the proposed districts when drawing up the new maps, contradicting claims by Republican lawmakers that the race of the voters was never considered.
Republicans, meanwhile, are asking the court to force Common Cause to return Hofeller’s drives to his family’s estate and destroy all documents that had been copied from them.
Last week, new documents showed that Hofeller played a large role in getting a citizenship question added to the 2020 U.S. Census, which is now the subject of a case before the Supreme Court.
Hofeller’s files showed that members of Trump’s administration knew that putting a citizenship question on the Census “would clearly be a disadvantage to the Democrats” and “advantageous” to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites.