Who is Thomas Hofeller you might be asking yourself as I did when I first saw the headline. Deceased G.O.P. Strategist’s Hard Drives Reveal New Details on the Census Citizenship Question
Thomas B. Hofeller achieved near-mythic status in the Republican Party as the Michelangelo of gerrymandering, the architect of partisan political maps that cemented the party’s dominance across the country.
But after he died last summer, his estranged daughter discovered hard drives in her father’s home that revealed something else: Mr. Hofeller had played a crucial role in the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
Files on those drives showed that he wrote a study in 2015 concluding that adding a citizenship question to the census would allow Republicans to draft even more extreme gerrymandered maps to stymie Democrats.
Her father, she said, was a brilliant cartographer who was deeply committed to traditional conservative principles like free will and limited government. As a child, she said, she was schooled in those same principles, but every successive gerrymandered map he created only solidified her conviction that he had abandoned them in a quest to entrench his party in permanent control.
“He had me with the idea that we are made to be free,” she said. “And then he lost me.
An incredible story followed about a daughter estranged from her father for many years over a personal fight eventually settled in court, who only found out her father had died when visiting her mother. She found some hard and thumb drives which her mother gave to her.
And some of the things on the hard drives may affect to census citizenship question.
Mr. Hofeller had played a crucial role in the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.
Files on those drives showed that he wrote a study in 2015 concluding that adding a citizenship question to the census would allow Republicans to draft even more extreme gerrymandered maps to stymie Democrats. And months after urging President Trump’s transition team to tack the question onto the census, he wrote the key portion of a draft Justice Department letter claiming the question was needed to enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act — the rationale the administration later used to justify its decision.
And then another coincidence. She called Common Cause looking for someone to help her with her father’s estate.
Only after several conversations with a staff member there did she mention the hard drives in passing, she said, remarking almost jokingly that an expert on gerrymanders might find a lot in them that was of interest.
“My understanding was that anything that would be on these hard drives was duplicative of things that had already been hashed out” in court challenges to Mr. Hofeller’s maps, she said.
In fact, Common Cause had recently filed a new lawsuit in state court, challenging gerrymandered maps of North Carolina’s legislative districts drawn by Mr. Hofeller himself. When the staff member told her of the lawsuit, Ms. Hofeller said, she thought, “Wow — this might be of use.”
And it looks like it will be useful because they document the true reason for the Republican Party’s push to add the citizenship question. And none too soon because I believe the Supreme Court is considering this very question and might give a ruling in the next few weeks.
The documents cited in the Thursday court filing include an unpublished August 2015 analysis by Mr. Hofeller, who was hired by The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative news outlet financially backed by Paul Singer, a billionaire New York hedge fund manager and major Republican donor. Mr. Hofeller’s charge was to assess the impact of drawing political maps that were not based on a state’s total population — the current practice virtually everywhere in the nation — but on a slice of that population: American citizens of voting age.
At the time, the study’s sponsor was considering whether to finance a lawsuit by conservative legal advocates that argued that counting voting-age citizens was not merely acceptable, but required by the Constitution.
Mr. Hofeller’s exhaustive analysis of Texas state legislative districts concluded that such maps “would be advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites,” and would dilute the political power of the state’s Hispanics.
The reason, he wrote, was that the maps would exclude traditionally Democratic Hispanics and their children from the population count. That would force Democratic districts to expand to meet the Constitution’s one person, one vote requirement. In turn, that would translate into fewer districts in traditionally Democratic areas, and a new opportunity for Republican mapmakers to create even stronger gerrymanders.
Most of the rest of the article describes how Mr Hofeller probably affected the Trump administration to take up and push the citizenship question and a review of his effects on the court documents., which I am not going to describe because you should probably read the whole article.
But what a great feeling to see that some of the Republican’s chicanery and outright lying is being brought to light!
Here’s the link: