A man who once warned that “Emails are the tools of the devil” and that the “journey to legal HELL starts with but a single misstatement OR a stupid email!” has been owned, from beyond the grave, by digital records of his misdeeds.
In a federal lawsuit over the Trump administration’s plan to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census, computer files belonging to Dr. Thomas Hofeller have provided “most explicit evidence to date that the Trump administration added the question to the 2020 census to advance Republican Party interests,” according to the New York Times.
The files in question, referenced in a court filing by the ACLU and their lawyers, include an unpublished analysis created by Hofeller of Texas state legislative districts, examining what would happen if districts were drawn using only voting-age citizens. His conclusion? The maps “would be advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites.” Dope!
But this scheme to cement Republican electoral advantages through enhancing white voters’ power would only work if a question on citizenship were added to the census. From the Times:
The strategy carried a fatal flaw, however: The detailed citizenship data that was needed to draw the maps did not exist. The only existing tally of voting-age citizens, Mr. Hofeller’s study stated, came from a statistical sample of the population largely used by the Justice Department to verify that the 1965 Voting Rights Act was ensuring the voting rights of minority groups.
“Without a question on citizenship being included on the 2020 Decennial Census questionnaire,” Mr. Hofeller wrote, “the use of citizen voting age population is functionally unworkable.”
Hofeller’s work appeared again in the Trump administration’s efforts to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. According to the Times, a paragraph found in a document on his computer arguing that citizenship data would actually help the enforcement of the Voting Rights Act appears “word-for-word” in a draft Department of Justice letter to the Census Bureau. This insulting lie became the key rationale for the administration’s plan to include a citizenship question on the census.
Hofeller was described by the Times after his death last year as “a father of the Republican strategy of cementing political control by controlling redistricting” and “the Michelangelo of the modern gerrymander.” Hofeller helped draw the Republican-favoring North Carolina congressional maps in 2011, which were eventually struck down in 2016 on the basis that “traditional redistricting principles were subordinated to race” in their creation. The advocacy group Common Cause sued the North Carolina legislature after it redrew the maps on explicitly partisan grounds; one Republican legislator said during the hearing: “I think electing Republicans is better than electing Democrats. So I drew this map to help foster what I think is better for the country.”
Hofeller also helped draw the legislature’s own districts in 2011, and then, after those maps were struck down by federal courts, was hired again by the Republican-majority General Assembly to draw new districts. (The new districts were eventually drawn by an outside expert under court order, although the Supreme Court only upheld some of the districts that were redrawn.)
The files were discovered by Hofeller’s daughter, who was estranged from her father, after his death, and who brought them to Common Cause. These files are now key in a different lawsuit challenging the Trump administration’s plan to include a question on citizenship in the census.
Funny how things work out, eh? The guy who warned that reckless emailing is a path to “legal HELL” is now relevant to a federal lawsuit because of his dumb computer files, while he burns in actual hell. Ya gotta laugh.