Pressure Mounts on Michigan’s Independent Commission To Commit To Not Hiring Law Firm with Record of Defending Gerrymandering


Fabiola Rodriguez

BakerHostetler Has Defended  The Most Partisan Gerrymandered Maps Of The Past Decade, Their Hiring Would Damage the Credibility and Independence of Michigan’s Commission

Washington, D.C. — There is massive public outcry after news leaked about Michigan’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission considering hiring the law firm BakerHostetler.  Serious concerns are being raised about how their hiring would threaten the independence of the Commission as well as voters’ faith in the maps it has been charged with producing. 

“Hiring a law firm with a track record of defending gerrymandered maps as their outside counsel is antithetical to the most basic purpose and function of Michigan’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission,” said Kelly Burton, President of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.  “This is an unacceptable hire and would have devastating consequences on the people of Michigan achieving fair representation for the next decade. The Commission must find an alternative law firm with a more appropriate background that voters can trust to support and defend fair maps.”  

Here is just a sample of what people across Michigan and the nation are saying about Michigan’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission considering hiring the law firm BakerHostetler:

Detroit News: “Activists are sounding the alarm over Michigan’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission’s consideration of a law firm they say has been instrumental in fighting for gerrymandered voting districts.” 

MLive: “Braden and BakerHostetler have defended political district maps in legal challenges in several states, including Pennsylvania and North Carolina, where courts found the redistricting plans unconstitutional for favoring Republican candidates. Prior to joining the firm, Braden also served as chief counsel for the Republican National Committee.”

David Daley, a national redistricting expert “cited the firm’s defense of ‘GOP gerrymanders’ in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia as proof the firm was ‘infamous for advising and defending some of the most egregious GOP gerrymanders of the last decade.’”

Nancy Wang, executive director of Voters Not Politicians: “There are many firms that are well qualified and experienced in redistricting litigation, but that do not have a history of defending partisan and racial gerrymandering.”

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder “argued the point of the commission was to keep politics out of the process, and said hiring the firm could damage the commission’s credibility.”

Katie Fahey of The People: “This would be a mistake. BakerHostetler isn’t just any partisan law firm. Mark Braden and his cohorts are actually the attorneys who helped defend some of the worst gerrymanders of the last decade, most notably in North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Indeed, according to court documents, Braden helped Ohio political operatives strengthen their partisan gerrymanders, and appears to have collaborated with a mapmaker infamous for his partisan and racial gerrymanders to do so.”


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 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.” [, 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, “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.” [; 07/09/2014]