Today Wake County Superior Court Judge Vince Rozier lifted a confidentiality designation on more than one hundred thousand documents created by the late Thomas Hofeller, the Republican operative responsible for many of the most controversial GOP gerrymanders of the last decade.
The order lifts a confidentiality designation on documents pertaining to Arizona, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and Nassau County in New York, and Nueces County and Galveston County in Texas. The court gave Hofeller’s former company, Geographic Strategies, more time to substantiate a claim on other files that it has said are proprietary.
“This is a victory that echoes back to a founding principle of our government — that every person in America is protected equally under the law — and it will help our allies battle racial and partisan gerrymanders in states where that principle is under attack,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause. “Our government is of, by and for the people, not the narrow population that Hofeller wanted to advantage, namely ‘Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites.’”
Common Cause, with representation from Arnold & Porter, subpoenaed Hofeller’s daughter, Stephanie, in Common Cause v. Lewis and received four external hard drives and 18 thumb drives that she had expressed interest in sharing. Some of the documents have already exposed his secret racial and partisan motives in drawing district maps and collecting data for redistricting that favors Republicans.
“The limited release of Dr. Hofeller’s files has already proven critical in exposing secret efforts to manipulate the Census and redistricting,” said Kathay Feng, national redistricting director for Common Cause. “Now the truth can come out about all of Hofeller’s shocking efforts to rig elections in almost every state.”
The Hofeller files played an important role in Common Cause’s successful challenge of the North Carolina’s gerrymandered legislative maps in September. Documents publicly filed in the U.S. Census citizenship question litigation likely influenced the decision earlier this year to remove the question from the 2020 Census.
“The new legislative maps were ordered by the North Carolina court in large part because the Hofeller documents revealed the concerted and deliberate plot to strip tens of thousands of North Carolinians of a political voice,” said Bob Phillips of Common Cause North Carolina. “In rejecting the legislative defendants’ efforts to have Hofeller’s files sealed or destroyed, the court allows light to shine into the most hidden corners of politics, applying antiseptic to the scourge of gerrymandering.”
“As we embark on the 2020 round of redistricting, it is time for us to reveal the truth and to establish clear standards for fair maps,” Feng said. “We must move away from the politically devious and racially discriminatory gerrymandering of decades past. We are already seeing people in state after state rise up to secure the power to draw election district lines based on people, not political operatives, best interests.”
Read the court order here.