Democratic Leader: Speaker Led Mapping Discrimination

July 9th, 2012: Speaker Joe Straus speaks to reporters
July 9th, 2012: Speaker Joe Straus speaks to reporters

Top staffers in the House Speakers' office led the discriminatory conduct that got the Texas redistricting maps thrown out in court, a top Democratic leader said in a letter sent Wednesday to House Speaker Joe Straus and copied to the rest of the House members.

In his letter, Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, referenced the recent federal court opinion denying precleance of the political maps drawn by the Legislature. In that opinion, the judges said they had found evidence of intentional discrimination against minority voters in some of the maps.

"I am attaching, for your review, excerpts of the opinion that speak to the deplorable, despicable and unbecoming conduct that occurred during this process," Martinez Fischer wrote. "Respectfully, you should know that your senior staff and closest advisors were identified as the source and primary cause of the discriminatory conduct that prevented these maps from preclearing."

Attached to the letter is testimony from Gerardo Interiano, who worked for Straus on the maps during last year's legislative session. 

Martinez Fischer, the chairman of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus, closed the letter by asking the Speaker to ask Attorney General Greg Abbott to drop his appeals on the Legislature's behalf.

"Last year, after members provided input and direction, the Texas House fulfilled its duty in passing new maps that reflect the population changes of the state," Straus spokeswoman Erin Daly said in an emailed statement. "The House will continue to rely on Attorney General Abbott for legal advice and guidance, as it has throughout this litigation."

Martinez Fischer's letter is attached. 

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