The Arrogance of Robin Vos
The latest: uses taxpayer-funded lawyer to shield him from revealing how he gerrymandered districts.
The chutzpah of Republican Assembly Robin Vos knows no bounds.
He was one of the principal architects of a redistricting plan so grossly gerrymandered that it forces Democrats to win 54.7 percent of the statewide vote to gain a majority of the Assembly.
He has claimed the Republicans’ legislative wins in November prove their policies are supported by the people, though GOP legislators won less than 48 percent of the statewide vote.
He and the Republicans have spent some $3.5 million of the taxpayers’ money — and the bill may exceed $4 million — on private attorneys to secretly construct and then defend one of the most gerrymandered redistricting plans in America.
And Vos did his best to prevent taxpayers from learning the total bill, fighting efforts to release the information on attorneys fees in response to an open records request.
Vos doesn’t seem to have a legal leg to stand on. Recall that an earlier federal district decision already ruled that Act 43 is an unconstitutional example of gerrymandering. The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which sent it back down to the federal district court, ruling that Greenwood and the plaintiffs must not just prove the Legislature acted with partisan intent on a statewide basis, but in a way that specifically reduced voters rights in 29 districts, as Greenwood and company have argued.
And there were only two individuals involved in all the legislative meetings to redistrict Wisconsin: Vos and legislative aide Adam Foltz, who has testified that it was the legislative leaders who made the decisions on district boundaries. So no one but Vos can fully explain how these decisions were made. Which is why he is hiding.
His attorney St. John argues that a public official like Vos has “legislative privilege” and is immune from civil suits, but Greenwood’s brief notes that Vos already waived this right by “actively participating in the litigation, including filing motions and discovery requests.” She also points to a long list of court cases where redistricting plans were challenged and legislators were “deposed and/or required to produce documents regardless of any claim to legislative privilege.”
St. John also argues that poor Vos is too busy to bother with this pesky federal district court case. This, you see, will divert “his time, energy and attention away from legislative tasks.”
But this “burden” is one Vos “has chosen to carry by intervening as a defendant in the current case,” Greenwood notes. And “on numerous occasions, Speaker Vos has found the time to discuss the question of Act 43 and gerrymandering,” including his statements at a WisPolitics luncheon and to a reporter for a story in New York magazine.
But beyond all the legalities here is the issue of one of the state’s top public officials, a legislative leader who some expect to run for governor in 2022, thumbing his nose at the public, and refusing to cooperate with a federal court case determining the rights of this state’s voters.
Vos won’t even explain to the voters why he refuses to cooperate with this case. He declined to respond to a request for comment from Urban Milwaukee and has given no statement to the press. Instead he is hiding behind the statements of his expensive lawyer, in essence giving his attorney more billable hours paid for by the taxpayers, to shield Vos from the scrutiny of those taxpayers.
It’s priceless. The Assembly Speaker won’t speak one word about this to the public.
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- Your Right to Know: Redistricting Shouldn’t Be Done In Secret - Matthew DeFour - Mar 2nd, 2021
- Redistricting conversation continues on virtual “On the Issues,” Feb. 11 - Marquette University - Feb 10th, 2021
- Op Ed: Redistricting Should Consider Native Americans - Tehassi Hill - Feb 9th, 2021
- Op Ed: Why the War on Masks? Gerrymandering - Mel Barnes - Feb 7th, 2021
- Op Ed: Correct a Cheating System With Fair Maps - State Sen. Jeff Smith - Feb 3rd, 2021
- Will State Supreme Court Draw New Legislative Boundaries? - Shawn Johnson - Jan 15th, 2021
- Data Wonk: Tales Told By The 2020 Election - Bruce Thompson - Dec 31st, 2020
- Court Watch: 2,000 Object to Redistricting Proposal - Gretchen Schuldt - Dec 13th, 2020
- Murphys Law: Beware the GOP Redistricting Proposal - Bruce Murphy - Dec 2nd, 2020
- Op Ed: Dear Wisconsin Supreme Court - Matt Rothschild - Nov 23rd, 2020
Read more about Gerrymandering of Legislative Districts here