Hofeller Documents Reveal Legislators in North Carolina Made False Statements to Federal Court in Redistricting Case

Hofeller Documents Reveal Legislators in North Carolina Made False Statements to Federal Court in Redistricting Case

The False Statements Led to Republicans Maintaining Super-Majorities in the General Assembly for An Additional Year

A new motion filed in a partisan gerrymandering case in a North Carolina court asserts there are documents showing that in the summer of 2017 Republican legislators in the General Assembly made false statements to a federal court when they were ordered to draw new electoral maps in North Carolina v. Covington, a racial gerrymandering case. The false statements led the district court to delay forcing special elections, which allowed the Republicans to maintain their super-majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly for an additional year until new legislators were sworn-in in 2019. During that time, Republicans in the legislature used their super-majorities to push forward a number of controversial constitutional amendments, including a voter ID law, stripping most of the power of the governor to appoint judges, and changes to the state ethics and elections board.

This new information came to light in Dr. Thomas Hofeller’s documents, which were obtained in Common Cause v. Lewis, a partisan gerrymandering case supported by the National Redistricting Foundation, a 501c3 affiliate of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee.

“Republican leaders in the North Carolina legislature must now be forthcoming about their contact with Dr. Hofeller when a federal court ordered them to draw new maps in 2017,” said Eric H. Holder, Jr., the 82nd Attorney General of the United States. “The implication that state legislators willfully misled the court about their ability to draw new maps for a special election to preserve ill-gotten super-majorities in both chambers for another year raises serious questions about the legitimacy of their hold on power in the state. They should now explain to the court – and the people of North Carolina – why they are so intent on manipulating the election process for their own benefit.”

In July 2017, a federal court ruled in North Carolina v. Covington that North Carolina’s maps were racially gerrymandered and must be redrawn. The court ordered Republican legislators to say whether or not it was possible to hold special elections in 2017 on new remedial maps. The legislators repeatedly said that no work had begun on drawing remedial maps and that they would need a long period of time to draft new plans.  In filings with the district court and in subsequent testimony in the North Carolina General Assembly, the legislators maintained that “no legislative redistricting occurred prior to July 2017.”

However, the Hofeller files reveal that Dr. Hofeller, prior to July 2017, had already completed over 97% of the new Senate plan and over 90% of the new House plan by June 2017. In fact, he had started working on remedial maps as early as August 2016. As a result of the false statements by legislators, the court did not order special elections in 2017 that would have jeopardized Republican super-majority control of the state House and state Senate. Additionally, the legislators told the court that the race of voters was not used in drawing new maps. Again, the Hofeller files reveal this statement to be false. In fact, each and every draft map drawn by Hofeller included the racial composition of the proposed districts.

On February 13, 2019, the plaintiffs in Common Cause v. Lewis issued a third-party subpoena to Stephanie Hofeller Lizon, the daughter of the late Dr. Thomas Hofeller, a Republican redistricting expert and North Carolina map drawer. The subpoena requested, among other things, all storage devices containing Dr. Hofeller’s work on the districting plans challenged in the North Carolina case.  After no one raised any objection to the subpoena, Ms. Hofeller complied with it, producing more than 75,000 files stored on four external hard drives and 18 thumb drives.

You can read more about the case, Common Cause v. Lewis, and read the filing, here.


Patrick Rodenbush