Republican officials and candidates are joining forces in two separate lawsuits against the Independent Redistricting Commission and the Secretary of State. They are seeking an injunction on the grounds that the AIRC violated the redistricting process mandated by the Arizona Constitution.
The suit filed with regards to the Congressional District map, on April 27, in the Arizona Superior Court in Maricopa County, argues that “the validity of that Map depends on whether the AIRC followed the specific, mandatory constitutional procedures for its development.”
Plaintiffs allege that the “AIRC majority did not follow the required process and therefore, the resulting Map is unconstitutional.”
The suit alleges that the “Commission’s two Democrats and its so-called Independent Chair” formed a “voting bloc to achieve a desired result.” The suit lays out how the defendant Commissioners “manipulated the redistricting process from day one in order to carry out their agenda.”
The suit alleges that the IRC’s Chair, Colleen Mathis, “omitted critical information, which, had it been known, would have identified her as biased in favor of the Democratic Party and not impartial, and it would have precluded her inclusion on the list of candidates for Chair and most certainly would have prevented her selection as the Independent Chair of the AIRC”
The plaintiff claims standing based on the fact that they are qualified electors and registered voters in the State of Arizona. They hold that they have suffered injury because of the “failure of the Defendant AIRC to follow the constitutionally mandated process for redistricting.”
The plaintiffs in the case include Lynne St. De Angelo, Vince Leach, Karen Glennon from CD1, Carolyn Cox from CD2, Donald Shooter from CD 3, Karyn Cushing and Jayne Friedman from CD 6, and Eleanor Clark from CD9.
IRC Chair Colleen Mathis has come under fire for her apparent allegiance to the Democratic Party. Her husband is a Democratic Party activist as well.
On her application to be a commissioner, Mathis answered “No” to the question as to whether she had a “possible conflict of interest or other matter that would create problems or prevent you from fairly and impartially discharging your duties as an appointee to the Independent Redistricting Commission?”
However, as late August 2010, Mathis made donations to democratic candidates and causes. In May 2010, she made a $100 donation to Andrei Cherny, who was the Democratic candidate for State Treasurer, and donated $10 in August to Arizona List P.A.C. The suit argues that “this consistent pattern of support for Democratic causes and candidates, particularly in the most recent election cycle reveals that Defendant Mathis at heart, is a Democrat, though dressed in Independent clothing.”
In the meantime Christopher Mathis, Colleen’s husband, served as the treasurer for the 2010 campaign of Democrat candidate Nancy Young Wright and made several donations to her and Arizona List P.A.C. Still, he took an active role in the redistricting commission’s work.
Christopher Mathis, a Democrat, “effectively became a “sixth commissioner” by closely counseling Defendant Mathis on every aspect of the redistricting process, including votes taken, and interacting with stakeholders to ascertain their support for various proposals,” according to the suit.
The plaintiffs argue that Christopher Mathis would have been unqualified to serve as a commissioner due to his partisan political activity, but that was a de facto commissioner.
Christopher Mathis was privy to commission conference calls, “and acted on Defendant Mathis’s behalf to round up votes on decisions coming before the Commission. Mr. Mathis went so far as to propose a deal to establish legislative district boundaries in which the Democrat Commissioners would draw districts in southern Arizona and the Republican Commissioners would draw those in northern Arizona.”
The suit asks the question if “Commissioners had been duped into supporting” Mathis due to her “failure to reveal information about her husband’s partisan political activity, as well as her own?”
Check back later for the follow up article: Republicans challenge IRC’s partisan process