The most influential, under-reported player in the Wisconsin GOP Redistricting strategy – Oklahoma University Professor Keith Gaddie

The emails ordered released by a Federal Court on Thursday have received a great deal of attention in the media recently. What has received little to no attention are the emails (see page 18 of the emails)referencing Keith Gaddie(Professor of Political Science – Oklahoma University) , and the critical role Gaddie has played in Wisconsin and other states (Texas, Georgia, etc.) recently in the redistricting process. Gaddie is a renowned expert on the treatment of minority populations in redistricting, has consulted on numerous redistricting processes nationwide (particularly in southern tier states), and was a consulting expert in the 2002 Wisconsin redistricting with then Speaker Scott Jensen. Professor Gaddie has already been cited as an expert in the January 3 filing in Federal Court by Wisconsin Congressional Democrats against Congressional Republicans and the GAB.  A review of Gaddie’s prior testimonies and writings, coupled with the Michael, Best and Friedrich emails, show his “expertise” may well be the basis for minority redistricting in Wisconsin – and its legal defense.

 In a January, 2011 edition of the “Southern Political Report” Gaddie teamed up with his regular collaborator Charles S. Bullock III (University of Georgia) in a piece that previewed a GOP strategy for 2011 redistricting. The strategy they cite leads to a compacting of minority districts (primarily Hispanic) in southern states, minimizing their influence, as a trade-off for increased Republican concentration in surrounding districts:

  “Republicans fully support initiatives to increase minority concentrations in selected districts since each time the minority percentage in one district increases, a concomitant decrease in minorities occurs in one or more adjacent districts.  As nearby districts become whiter, they become more likely to elect Republicans.”

The effect is to “surround” the minority district with several of a “conservative” nature, leading to a net conservative gain. Gaddie is active in conservative “policy research,” contributing to American Enterprise Institute (AEI) publications and testimony regarding Voter Rights Act enforcement and minority representation. Gaddie was cited in a 2006 AEI submission by Fellow Edward Blum to the US Senate Judiciary. AEI was lobbying for Section 5 of the VRA to expire in 2006. Section 5 requires select southern states with historically high voter disenfranchisement history to obtain “preclearance” for election and redistricting plans from the US Department of Justice, to assure equal protection of minority voter rights under law.  Gaddie had led a study which concluded : 

“…there is no longer sufficient justification for the preclearance mandate. Greatly increased minority voter registration rates, minority voter turnout rates, and number of minority elected officials all indicate that the aim of the act has been fulfilled—voting rights and representation for minorities have solidified and section 5 should be allowed to expire.”

While the 2006 Congress eventually voted to continue the Section 5 practice, Gaddie is consistently cited in the final for opposing this minority protection. Indeed, his expertise aligns perfectly well with the recent GOP redistricting pattern and agenda.

Instead of seeking a true representation of the population, Gaddie gives GOP leadership like Fitzgerald the “tools” to manipulate the census data to further “compartmentalize” minority districts. They are then pared down to the lowest possible percentage of voter turnout utilizing a complex statistical equation (which puts a greater emphasis on voter turnout and population growth than representation) to rationalize under-representation (in this case 42.3% in Milwaukee, when the Federal standard is about 52%). Meanwhile, to compensate for a planned and programmed “minority majority” district, surrounding districts must then be drawn to compensate by making them more “Republican” than “tending Democratic.”

In December, 2011, Gaddie testified in Maryland to just such methodology. The emails from Michael, Best and Friedrich referencing Gaddie are consistent in showing this as an intentional strategy – and one they believe they are able to defend legally. The reason for gerrymandering this way is in actually “compartmentalizing” these minority districts, to give them the appearance of complying with redistricting precedent. The reality, sadly, is they are used to justify expanding conservative majorities surrounding these “minority majority” districts; instead of representing the natural population growth and change reflected in the census.

In retaining Professor Gaddie, the GOP knew what they were getting, and what they were doing. The method in which they obtained co-operation from certain Hispanic voter groups in reconciling this process is reprehensible – and the emails show it to be intentional. This is collusion – to defraud and hide their true agenda from the people of Wisconsin in this process. Professor Ronald Keith Gaddie has given them the tools they needed, and he will likely be a key witness for the GOP if the case is heard in court; just as he has in many other states for the GOP.

Badger Democracy has submitted an Open Records Request with Senator and Representative Fitzgerald(s) to explain the amount of taxpayer money Keith Gaddie has been paid in this fraud.




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