How DeLay and the Corporations Bought
December 7, 2005
By Allan Lichtman
big corporate interests that pumped money into Tom DeLay's scheme
to control the Texas legislature and break precedent by rewriting
an established congressional redistricting plan in mid-decade knew
full well what they bought in Texas. They bought our government.
A front-page Washington Post story today exposed a two-year
cover-up by George W. Bush appointees in the U.S. Department of
Justice, of a memo written by career lawyers there. The career attorneys
found that a plan, crafted by Rep. Tom DeLay (R) for redrawing Texas
congressional districts, violated the Voting Rights Act by deliberately
subverting opportunities for African-Americans and Hispanics to
elect candidates of their choice to Congress.
Political appointees at Justice overruled the memo's unanimous
verdict and authorized Texas to implement a redistricting plan that
destroyed five Democratic districts at the expense of minority voters.
As the expert witness upon whose testimony the career lawyers
extensively based their findings, I have long maintained that the
real story about Tom DeLay's recent indictment in Texas goes far
beyond the corrupt acts of a single individual.
DeLay's intervention in Texas state legislative elections was
part of a concerted, nationwide Republican plan to control our government
through political gerrymandering at the expense of black and Hispanic
voters. I have observed this process first-hand as the expert witness,
not only in Texas, but also in the court cases challenging Republican
congressional redistricting plans in Pennsylvania, Florida, Ohio,
The DeLay plan thwarted the will of voters by drawing districts
to guarantee Republican victories and take over five Democratic
seats. To this end, DeLay and his allies cynically and knowingly
destroyed the voting rights of millions of African-Americans and
Hispanics in Texas.
In the Dallas County area, the plan demolished a 60.5 percent
minority district and scattered its voters into five Anglo-dominated,
Republican districts in which they have no chance to influence the
outcomes of elections.
Lawmakers carved up District 24, held by Rep. Martin Frost (D),
at the eleventh hour, behind closed doors at the behest of DeLay
staffers, despite objections from their own experts and attorneys
that their actions could violate the Voting Rights Act. "We must
stress that a map that returns (Democratic U.S. Reps. Martin) Frost,
(Chet) Edwards and (Lloyd) Doggett is unacceptable and not worth
all of the time invested in this project," wrote DeLay aide Tom
In southwest Texas, DeLay's plan split heavily Hispanic Webb County,
removing some 90,000 Hispanics from Congressional District 23 to
ensure that it would elect a Republican opposed by Hispanic voters.
His plan dismantled seven other congressional districts across Texas
in which African-American and Hispanic voters critically influenced
election outcomes, submerging these voters into heavily Republican
districts in which they have no influence."
DeLay's plan represents the first time, anywhere in America, that
majority-minority districts have been dismantled since the Voting
Rights Act was passed in 1965.
The previously undisclosed Justice Department memo shows that
the process that led to the enactment of this plan was corrupt from
start to finish. The process began by pumping illicit corporate
money into state legislative elections, continued with a secretly
enacted plan that ignored the Voting Rights Act, and proceeded through
the overruling of staff attorneys and analysts by political appointees
A case challenging DeLay's plan is now on appeal to the U. S.
Supreme Court. It is the most important case affecting the balance
of power in Congress since the reapportionment decisions of the
1960's. If the Court's uphold the DeLay plan they would sanction
the perpetual redrawing of legislative district lines, the replacement
of the voter by the line-drawer, and subordination of minority voting
rights to partisan gain.
Allan Lichtman is currently running as a Democrat for the U.
S. Senate in Maryland. His website is www.allanlichtman.com,
and he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.