Redistricting Commission Accused Of Violating Open-meetings Law And Other Failures

By Seema Mehta

California voters created an independent redistricting commission to stop lawmakers and powerful interests from drawing gerrymandered congressional and legislative districts that consolidated their power at the expense of fair representation.

That commission is now accused of routinely flouting the law by holding closed-door meetings and other acts that threaten to undermine its impartiality as it prepares to draw new maps.

“The commission’s ‘outreach’ efforts are being conducted in violation of the transparency provisions of” state law, Charles Munger Jr., a major Republican donor who funded the propositions that created the commission, wrote in a May 7 letter to the body. “It is important both that this stop and that it not set a precedent for how the commission conducts itself.”

Among Munger’s concerns: commissioners routinely meeting privately with various parties — including legislative representatives, Google and Common Cause — without public notice, opportunity for public input or a record of the meeting. He also says the commission’s hiring of a law firm that has long represented the state Legislature creates a conflict of interest, and he faults the body for failing to make public records, video and transcripts available in a timely manner.

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