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Tobin defends secretive map drawing

Arizona Speaker of the House Rep. Andy Tobin, R-Dewey, speaks with Republican U.S. Rep. Jeff Flake at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry luncheon Friday, Jan. 6, 2012, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

While legislative Republicans have repeatedly castigated the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission for sometimes operating outside of the public’s view, House Speaker Andy Tobin’s counterproposal was written out of anyone’s view.

Tobin on Friday unveiled proposed legislative and congressional maps that he and John Mills, a House Republican staffer, have worked on for about three weeks. The new maps were drawn without the knowledge of the public or even of other lawmakers.

House Minority Leader Chad Campbell said it is the “epitome of hypocrisy” for Tobin to accuse the IRC of not being transparent while he and Mills drew their own maps in secret without any public input. The reason voters approved the creation of the IRC in the first place, he said, is because they didn’t want lawmakers drawing maps behind closed doors.

“They are hypocrites from Day One,” Campbell said. “He and his political crony drew maps in the basement.”

Tobin disagreed that his mapping process was less transparent than the one used by the IRC. While the IRC took months of public comment, Tobin said, the commissioners simply ignored public input that didn’t further its pre-conceived outcome and sought to draw Democrat-friendly districts that ignored constitutional requirements for remapping.

The public’s input on Tobin’s maps will come when they have a chance to approve or reject them themselves, he said.

“I’m putting the maps out in the hands of every voter in the state of Arizona to say yes or no. What is more transparent than that? Do you believe it is transparent because they hold meetings and ignore testimony?” Tobin said. “(The public’s) say is an election. If you don’t like my maps, go vote ‘no.’”

The lack of public input could be a problem when the state submits the maps to the U.S. Department of Justice. Arizona is one of several states required by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to get DOJ approval, known as preclearance, for election and voting law changes.

Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, said DOJ will likely have problems with maps that were drawn without any minority input.

“This thing is drawn by two White guys and no one of color has even looked at it.  Seriously, this is a whites-only map. Let’s call it what it is. No input by Hispanics. No input by African-Americans and Native Americans,” Gallardo said.

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