MALDEF: The Common Line of Controversy

California State and Local Redistricting Commissions Drawing Fire Over Controversies

The non-partisan California Citizen’s Redistricting Commission is supposed to draw lines for new State Assembly, Senate and U.S. Congressional districts that evenly and fairly distribute the political balance of power among communities and groups of interest. Instead, the commission has drawn fire from the start and recently came under attack by the California Republican Party after it was revealed Friday by CalWatchDog.com that Commissioner Dr. Gabino Aguirre concealed political contributions and was found to have ties to radical political organizations with a Democrat partisan agenda, including the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), which is actively lobbying the commission.

Californians may recall the words that were immortalized by the godfather of Democrat politics in California, former State Assembly Speaker Willie Brown who said, “In politics, a lie unanswered becomes truth within 24 hours.” Instead of repudiating the allegations of political favoritism and engaging in partisan gerrymandering of districts which tilt the political balance of power, a spokesperson for the commission said that Commissioner Aguirre would be unavailable for comment. Perhaps Aguirre and other individuals from the 14 member panel were busy recalling another quote by former Speaker Brown when California’s electorate turned against Democrat policies. Speaking about Democrats Brown said, “We are in trouble” which proved to be an accurate assessment then and would seem to apply now.

In addition to the allegations of gerrymandering, Aguirre is accused of violating the California State Constitution, as recently amended by voters with the passage of Proposition 11 during November 2008, which legally mandates “strict non-partisan rules designed to ensure fair representation.”

As first reported by CalWatchDog.com, Commissioner Aguirre was found to have concealed contributions that were made to Democrat candidates and that he hosted a fundraiser in his home for a Democrat candidate for State Assembly. He is further accused of influencing a redistricting map that was too favorable to Assemblyman Das Williams, who Aguirre financially supported during his bid for the seat. Other allegations include Aguirre’s ties to radical special interest groups involved in political activism who have also submitted their own redistricting proposals to the commission. One such special interest group is MALDEF.

With the revelation of political improprieties infiltrating what is supposed to be a non-partisan process, one must look closer at the relationships that Commissioner Aguirre has with Democrat elected officials and the special interest groups that are trying to influence the process. Upon examination, a common link is found between the controversy now surrounding the California Citizen’s Redistricting Commission and the San Diego Redistricting Commission which recently came under intense public scrutiny as reported in the local media (here) and (here). In the case of the San Diego Redistricting Commission, which is tasked with drawing a new ninth council district in addition to reapportionment of residents, Commissioner Carlos Marquez was found to be a partisan carpetbagger residing in West Hollywood after accepting a job with Honor Fund as Executive Director.

San Diego Redistricting Commissioner Carlos Marquez departing his West Hollywood residence on the morning of April 30, 2011.

Honor Fund is a Los Angeles non-profit advocacy organization working to empower the Latino LGBT community. Of particular note is since Honor Fund is not yet recognized as a non-profit for tax purposes, the organization is financially sponsored by MALDEF and operates from their Los Angeles office where Marquez was frequently observed by a private investigator (disclosure: I was that investigator) that was hired by the Republican Party of San Diego County to investigate the commissioner. That same investigation also found Marquez to be closely associated with Rose Kapolczynski who was the campaign manager for U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer and who also consults for the California Teachers Association among other center-left individuals and causes. MALDEF is the same organization that submitted its own redistricting proposal to the California Citizen’s Redistricting Commission which increased Latino state Assembly, Senate and U.S. Congressional seats from 26 to 37 without drawing a single Asian or African-American district that met the requirements of the Voting Rights Act. The California Bureau of State Audits who performed a background on Aguirre during the vetting process forewarned of a potential bias in favor of the Latino community due to Aguirre’s deep roots and activism which could shed light on his sympathies during the redistricting process.

In light of warnings from California state auditors and the disclosure of Aguirre’s concealment of political relationships and a demonstrated history of influencing maps that are too favorable to political allies, it would seem that the time has come for Aguirre to resign and step aside. As for San Diego Redistricting Commissioner Carlos Marquez, one must wonder if he too should resign or if San Diego residents should wait to see if the Los Angeles political activist who is financially supported by MALDEF can truly work in an unbiased manner. Only time will tell if San Diego’s Asian-American and African-American residents will face the same fate that other minority groups of interest are facing around California by partisan Latino activists, like Aguirre, who are forcing them into concentrated districts in an orchestrated effort to diminish their representation.

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