Democratic Underground

How DeLay and the Corporations Bought Our Government

December 7, 2005
By Allan Lichtman

The 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, and Michigan.

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 Ellis.

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 at Justice.

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 allanlicht@aol.com.

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