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Madison – In 2011, state Republican lawmakers hatched a plan to help them preserve their majorities in both the Assembly and the Senate by redistricting the state. The act of drawing new lines is not a new phenomenon, but the circumstances in which these new lines were drawn have come under heavy scrutiny by both the public as well as the court system.

Secrecy Agreements

As legislative leaders secretly developed new election maps in 2011 to strengthen their majority, Republican lawmakers were told to ignore public comments and instead focus on what was said in private meetings, according to a GOP memo that became public in February 2012. Other released documents also show almost all Republican lawmakers signed legal agreements promising not to discuss the new maps while they were being developed.

During the court battle that ensued, Republicans fought tooth and nail to prevent the release of the documents, as well as testifying about the maps. Eventually they capitulated after a panel of three federal judges based in Milwaukee found they had filed frivolous motions in trying to shield the information from the public.

Robin Vos Subpoenaed Over Missing Computers

Tonight Patrick Marley of the Journal Sentinel is reporting that Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has been served a subpoena in an attempt to track down computers they want to search. Marley reports:

The move came a week after a panel of three federal judges ordered that two sides and the state quickly resolve their differences. The groups sued the state in 2011 over election maps drawn by Republicans, but for months the case has focused on documents that were improperly withheld from the plaintiffs. For five months, the plaintiffs have been seeking to forensically search computers used for redistricting to find out why they did not receive documents that were supposed to be turned over to them and to learn if any other records were improperly withheld. So far, they have not been able to learn where the state computers are located, let alone search them. Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) said he was appalled that the state had not disclosed to the plaintiffs where the computers are.

The computers in question were state-owned systems set up in the offices of Michael Best, the law firm across the street from the Capitol. Republicans found this arrangement advantageous since the computers were not connected to the state system, so open records requests are hard to fulfill and apparently computers even harder to find.

"If Scott Walker's Republicans have done nothing illegal, they should have no problem producing the missing computers immediately. Their redistricting efforts have already been found illegal and now it appears they are going to ground to avoid accountability. From Scott Walker to Paul Ryan to Robin Vos, we have seen a pattern where the Republicans are a law unto themselves, willing to compromise 100 years of Wisconsin's faith in good government," Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said Monday.