An update on redistricting in Arizona

Arizona’s dynamic redistricting process experienced several developments this week.

On Wednesday, October 26th, Governor Jan Brewer threatened to initiate impeachment proceedings against members of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) in a letter to Chairwoman Colleen Mathis. She gave the commissioners until Monday to respond to a litany of complaints and unless she is satisfied with their response, plans to begin the impeachment process next week. The Commission currently consists of five members: two Democrats, two Republicans, and registered Independent Chairwoman Mathis. Arizona’s Constitution allows the governor, with a two-thirds vote in the Senate, to remove members of the panel for misconduct. If the commissioners are impeached, it is likely that the map-drawing process would have to start over from the beginning.

Meanwhile, on Friday, Judge Dean Fink of Maricopa County Superior Court removed Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne from the investigation of the Independent Redistricting Commission. The investigation is examining the Commission’s possible violation of open meetings regulations, specifically private discussion among members. Judge Fink removed Attorney General Horne, citing noncompliance with attorney ethics rules. The violation occurred because Horne’s office had previously advised the Commission on the state’s Open Meeting Law. Horne has not appealed the decision and Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery will continue the investigation. The Commission’s attorneys maintain that the panel may not necessarily be subject to the Open Meeting Law.

The recently-formed Joint Legislative Committee on Redistricting held its first hearing on Friday, October 28th. The meeting included an explanation of the map-making process by legislative staffer John Mills, public testimony, and general support and criticism of the IRC’s draft congressional and legislative maps. In addition to forming the Independent Redistricting Commission, Proposition 106 allows lawmakers to submit recommendations to the Commission. House and Senate members may be called back to the Capitol next week to vote on final recommendations for the Commission’s draft maps. Democrats boycotted the Committee’s meeting, protesting what some have seen as the Republicans’ attempts to influence the redistricting process. The legislative committee will continue work on Monday.

The preliminary maps are currently nearing the end of a 30-day comment period.

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