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GOP self-interest may have helped Matheson
Redistricting » By hoarding safe conservative areas, Republicans opened up other places.

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"Let’s not be shocked that politicians talked and fought about the political consequences of redistricting," Dabakis said, redirecting criticism to closed-door GOP caucuses. "That’s where things were decided, and that’s what’s wrong."

The Democratic leader argues redistricting should be done by an independent commission with no vested interests in the outcome.

Redistricting texts

This document shows text messages between an aide for Congressman Jason Chaffetz and a leader of the Utah Legislature's redistricting committee.

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Sumsion also said it should be no surprise that partisan data found their way into the Legislature’s redistricting calculations.

"Everybody was aware of that. It’s part of the process."

But it’s barely mentioned anywhere in the 16,000 pages released. On some rare occasions when it was raised, lawmakers warned others to stop it.

One example came in an email from Democratic Sen. Ben McAdams, now mayor-elect of Salt Lake County, to a group of Democratic lawyers discussing whether a lawsuit might be possible against Republicans over their closed-door caucuses.

"I suggest you remove me and any other legislators from this email chain if the subject matter relates to redistricting, potential litigation or other strategy," McAdams wrote. "Our correspondence on this matter, even on our personal email accounts, is arguably subject to public disclosure under GRAMA," the Government Records Access and Management Act.

Herbert veto threat? • Another rare allusion among the documents to behind-the-scenesarm-wrestlingis in an email from Sumsion to Derek Miller, the governor’s chief of staff — which was previously disclosed in open-records requests by The Salt Lake Tribune and reported at the time.

Sumsion asks if the governor will veto plans that are short of his expectations "since Allie [Allyson Isom, then the spokeswoman for Herbert] alluded to it at the end of our meeting." That occurred just before Morgan Philpot — the Republican nominee against Matheson in 2010 — alleged publicly that Herbert was pushing to make a district friendly enough to entice Matheson into running again for Congress rather than making a bid for governor.

When that email was earlier disclosed, Isom denied that Herbert or his staff made any veto threats and said the governor simply stressed he wanted a mix of rural and urban areas in each congressional district. But Sumsion has said the tone used byaides seemed to imply a veto warning.

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Internal GOP fight • Some communications in the newly released documents show lack of Republican Party support for a congressional redistricting plan drawn by Rep. Fred Cox, R-West Valley City, who just lost re-election. He emailed TheTribune about GOP effortsagainst his plan after reading some of those documents online over the weekend.

Cox wrote that Utah Republican Party Chairman Wright told him that, with his map, "Matheson would win. I said it was a good map and it would be a coin toss, but I didn’t have any partisan numbers and didn’t want them. He did. I told him I didn’t care about his numbers and wasn’t interested in them. I told him I didn’t create the map to help either party. I thought the map was fair."

Wright disputed having such an exchange with Cox. He remembers that Cox tried to get him to endorse his map, but "I didn’t like Fred’s map for a variety of reasons. I don’t think it was logical because it cut up many cities and towns and didn’t keep areas of interest together."

As previously reported during redistricting, Wright confirmed to the press then that he warned lawmakers that his party would sue — similar to Democratic threats over what became final plans — if they passed Cox’s map because he considered it gerrymandering to help Matheson.

Documents show — as revealed and reported by earlier document requests by Republicans — that Democrats worked jointly with supposedly independent "good government" groups to attack GOP plans. The new documents now add that Republicans complained in emails that such groups were Democratic fronts, but then discussed perhaps attempting something similar.

Stan Lockhart, the lobbyist husband of House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, wrote a list of talking points for Republicans to use if their redistricting work was criticized, and included a strategy suggesting that "an ‘unbiased’ third party can make a big difference" in marshaling public support.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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