NDRC Slams Michigan’s Independent Redistricting Commission for Actively Ignoring the Public and Hiring Legal Counsel with a Track Record of Defending Gerrymandering


Fabiola Rodriguez rodriguez@democraticredistricting.com

BakerHostetler Has Defended The Most Partisan Gerrymandered Maps Of The Past Decade

The National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC) released the following statement after Michigan’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC) hired BakerHostetler as outside legal counsel to the commission:

“The MICRC received record levels of public comment in opposition to hiring BakerHostetler as its litigation counsel, and chose to ignore all of it and hire them anyway. That is totally unacceptable,” said Kelly Burton, President of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. “Not only is it their responsibility to hire a team who will act in the best interests of Michiganders, it is also their responsibility to execute a fair and equitable process that listens to the public. Today they failed at both.

“Given BakerHostetler’s controversial history of defending gerrymandered maps and failing to follow or support state and federal voting rights laws, their hiring threatens the independence of the commission as well as voters’ faith in the maps it has been charged with producing,” continued Burton. “The MICRC must take swift action to demonstrate its independence and rebuild its credibility with the public.”

Background on BakerHostleter’s History of Defending The Most Partisan Gerrymandered Maps

Roll Call: BakerHostleter Attorney Mark Braden Was ‘One Of Republicans’ Go-To Attorneys On Redistricting.’ In January 2011, Roll Call reported that Mark Braden was “Mark Braden, one of Republicans’ go-to attorneys on redistricting.” [Roll Call, 1/14/2011]

Braden Worked For GOP Redistricting Group MAPS. In March 2010, Inside Elections reported that Braden was “working with Making America’s Promise Secure” also known as MAPS. MAPS was “coordinating the legal and data aspects of redistricting for Republicans. [Inside Elections, 3/31/2010]

Braden Was Attorney For VA GOP In Gerrymandering Lawsuit In 2018. In October 2018, The Virginian-Pilot reported that Braden “represents the [Virginia] House and Speaker Kirk Cox in the lawsuit that led a court to declare 11 districts unconstitutional.” [The Virginian-Pilot, 10/24/2018]

Braden Was Attorney For OH GOP In 2011 Gerrymandering Lawsuit. In April 2019 Cincinnati.com reported that Braden was the “attorney for Ohio’s Republican members of Congress.” The article reported “The League of Women Voters and Democratic organizations filed a federal lawsuit against Ohio Republican state officials accusing them of unconstitutional ‘gerrymandering’ in 2011 when they redrew the lines for the state’s 16 congressional districts.” According to Braden, the “goal of redistricting was to protect incumbents,” and “in this case, the 2011 legislative map was meant to protect 12 Republicans and four Democrats.” Braden stated, “There is nothing unusual about this, certainly nothing illegal about it.” [Cinicinnati.com, 4/1/2019]

Braden ‘Was Involved In Redistricting Strategy’ In Ohio. The League of Women Voters published a report on “Ohio’s Gerrymandering Problem” for the redistricting map they drew of the state for 2012 to 2022. Reportedly, “The Apportionment Board hired Washington D.C. attorney Mark Braden to serve as legal counsel, even though the Ohio Attorney General is their statutory legal counsel. Braden served for ten years as chief legal counsel to the Republican National Committee and promotes himself as being the “father of soft money.” House Majority Counsel Michael Lenzo refused to provide records of any communications with Braden on the basis of attorney-client privilege. It appears that Braden did more than simply provide legal advice. Rather, he was involved in redistricting strategy. He hired consultant John Morgan and participated in meetings with him and Ohio redistricting officials. The secretaries of the Apportionment Board submitted draft maps to him for consideration. Braden’s name is even listed as the author of one of the final three congressional plans considered by Republican legislative leaders.” [League of Women Voters Report; accessed 08/09/2021]

Braden Was Involved In Wisconsin Redistricting Plan Developed Behind “Veil Of Secrecy,” Accused of “Shutting The Public Out Of The Process” By Federal Court Judge. In February 2012, PR Watch reported, “A federal court will rule in coming weeks on Wisconsin’s redistricting plan, after sharply criticizing Republican lawmakers for developing the maps under a veil of secrecy and shutting the public out of the process.” GOP legislators in Wisconsin also instituted “voter ID legislation inspired by an American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) model.” Reportedly, “Mark Braden, former chief counsel to the Republican National Committee (who is now with the law firm Baker Hostetler) gave a presentation on redistricting to members of the Public Safety and Elections Task Force at the December 2010 ALEC meeting, according to documents obtained through open records requests. Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald is a member of that Task Force and attended the December meeting. Fitzgerald led the redistricting effort in Wisconsin and is the former ALEC state chair…Prior to the December convening, Senator Fitzgerald and other members of the Task Force received an emailed invitation noting Braden’s presentation on redistricting. The email was stamped with an image of a badge that reads “vote police.” A January 20, 2011 email obtained through open records requests shows ALEC invited Fitzgerald to an “ALEC Conference Call on Redistricting.” The call was led by former RNC chief counsel Braden and Utah Rep. Ray, as well as Richard Leadbeater, state government industry manager for ESRI, a corporation that uses GIS technology to develop redistricting maps. Wisconsin has had a contract with ESRI since 2004, and renewed it in late 2010.” [PR Watch, 2/29/2012]

Republican National Lawyers Association Named Braden 2014 Republican Lawyer of the Year. According to RNLA.org, “The Board of Governors of the Republican National Lawyers Association is pleased to announce the selection of E. Mark Braden as the 2014 Republican Lawyer of the Year. This award recognizes lawyers for outstanding professional accomplishments and years of dedicated service to the Republican Party and its ideals.” [rnla.org; 07/09/2014]