STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Democrats today vehemently opposed an effort led by Republican House members to use taxpayer dollars to join a lawsuit against the Independent Redistricting Commission.
The voter-approved IRC recently created new congressional and legislative district maps for the upcoming elections. Many House Republicans are attempting to supersede the will of the voters and the IRC because they don’t like the boundaries proposed by the independent volunteer commission.
"Here's a newsflash for all the politicians who are mad about how the maps turned out: the courts and voters don't care if you think you can win with these maps. The voters plainly said they want politicians out of the process,” House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix (District 14), said. “We all just need to butt out.”
A motion by Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert (District 22), made on the House floor this morning allowed the House of Representatives to join or intervene in any federal or state lawsuit. It also allowed the Speaker of the House to retain and pay for outside counsel. The motion passed with strong Democratic opposition.
Democrats argued that the money that will likely go to the extensive legal fees incurred by the House involving itself in these lawsuits should be spent on other priorities. After the redistricting process in 2000, lawsuit costs topped $10 million.
"Yesterday, during the budget debate, Republicans wouldn't allocate $7 million for KidsCare so that working parents can get health insurance for their children. Now they want to spend taxpayer money on a lawsuit they will probably lose," Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix (District 16), said. "These maps are going to be upheld. The politicians need to just accept that and focus on the work and priorities of the people."
Campbell said that neither Democrats nor Republicans are completely supportive of the political opportunities afforded each party in the final maps.
“That’s the point of this process,” Campbell said. “It’s independent. Democrats get that and we aren’t whining about it.”
Rep. Martin Quezada, D-Avondale (District 13), agreed.
“Politicians weren’t supposed to be involved in this process,” he said. “I suggest that the Republicans take a moment to consider that this is the will of the voters.”