Recently Joe Straus has come under fire from Democrats and Republicans for the way his office handled redistricting. AgendaWise began trying a year ago to gather important information about how the contentious maps were drawn.
In a letter to Joe Straus, Democrat state Representative Trey Martinez Fischer decried how redistricting was handled and called on the Speaker to admonish further attempts by Attorney General Greg Abbott to defend the maps. Last week Republican Representative David Simpson joined Martinez Fischer condemning the way the maps were drawn.
During the session conservatives cried foul over the Speaker using the process to harm conservative House members. The specter of such action was exposed before the session when Representative Bryan Hughes testified under oath that Straus allies were threatening members with redistricting reprisials if they refused to support the Speaker in his reelection bid.
After the legislative session concluded we sent the Speaker’s office an open records request for documents relating to how they handled the process. That initial request was largely blocked by disclosure exceptions. The Speaker’s office was allowed to withhold documents for several reasons. One reason was pending litigation over the maps.
When the legal process for determining the interim maps was substantially over, we petitioned the AG for documents turned over during the redistricting trails.
The AG disclosed hundreds of pages of material, but we are still waiting on significant information that will only be released with Straus’ consent.
We sent a letter to the Speaker requesting he allow the AG to release the remaining documents in the interest of political transparency.
We will keep you informed as to further developments.