GOP Racial Gerrymandering Mastermind Helped Redistrict More States Than We Knew About

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Written by Ann Brown
There was more GOP gerrymandering going on. Gerrymandering mastermind Thomas Hofeller was involved in a racial redistricting plan for more states. In this Aug. 13, 2001, file frame from video provided by C-SPAN, Tom Hofeller speaks during an event at the Republican National Committee in Washington. Hofeller, a mastermind of GOP redistricting preached keeping electronic records secure. But after his death in 2018, his own files found their way to the heart of lawsuits over a U.S. census question on citizenship and North Carolina’s legislative redistricting. (C-SPAN via AP)

There was a lot more GOP gerrymandering going on than many thought. It seems that Republican gerrymandering mastermind Thomas Hofeller, who died in 2018, was involved in a racial redistricting plan that involved more states than previously revealed, according to files from his hard drives that were discovered following his death. The files were found by his estranged daughter, who released them to activists and journalists. There were  more than 70,000 documents, among them draft maps.

Hofeller was behind the Trump administration’s efforts to add a citizenship question to the U.S. census.

“Hofeller was paid millions by the Republican National Committee to devise new redistricting maps, and argued in the files that the citizenship question ‘would clearly be a disadvantage to the Democrats’ and ‘would be advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites,’” Salon reported.

What was revealed were troves of racial data Hofeller and the GOP used in North Carolina’s illegally gerrymandered map as well as by Republicans in other states. 

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But it seems Hofeller’s interference was more extensive than first believed. The documents reveal he also participated in redistricting in Alabama, Florida and West Virginia in 2010. Hofeller and fellow Republican operatives “experimented with using race as the primary factor in drawing districts,” the Intercept reported.

“And, in those three states, it appears Hofeller and other Republican mapmakers experimented with using race as the primary factor in drawing districts in these states — a tactic ruled unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause, which requires that people in similar circumstances be treated the same under the law,” the Intercept reported. 

It was already known Hofeller had drawn maps to give Republicans an advantage and to disadvantage voters of color in North Carolina, Texas, Missouri, and Virginia.

Kathay Feng, Common Cause’s national redistricting director, told The New York Times: “We’ve already seen that these files have been instrumental in exposing lies around the effort to add a citizenship question to the census and around subverting a court’s order to redraw gerrymandered lines. The Hofeller files are important because they’re the only thing that will allow the American people to know the truth behind the efforts to rig redistricting and elections. They have to be made public.”

Ann Brown
Image Attribution: There was more GOP gerrymandering going on. Gerrymandering mastermind Thomas Hofeller was involved in a racial redistricting plan for more states. In this Aug. 13, 2001, file frame from video provided by C-SPAN, Tom Hofeller speaks during an event at the Republican National Committee in Washington. Hofeller, a mastermind of GOP redistricting preached keeping electronic records secure. But after his death in 2018, his own files found their way to the heart of lawsuits over a U.S. census question on citizenship and North Carolina’s legislative redistricting. (C-SPAN via AP) By Autumn Keiko, There was more GOP gerrymandering going on. Gerrymandering mastermind Thomas Hofeller was involved in a racial redistricting plan for more states. In this Aug. 13, 2001, file frame from video provided by C-SPAN, Tom Hofeller speaks during an event at the Republican National Committee in Washington. Hofeller, a mastermind of GOP redistricting preached keeping electronic records secure. But after his death in 2018, his own files found their way to the heart of lawsuits over a U.S. census question on citizenship and North Carolina’s legislative redistricting. (C-SPAN via AP) By Autumn Keiko