Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, and Gaetz, R-Destin, refused to comment on the meeting hosted in party headquarters with their staff, or the emails. Weatherford defended the House’s approach.
"The House work product resulted in maps that were unanimously upheld by the Florida Supreme Court and by the Department of Justice,’’ he said in a statement. “We are proud of those results and believe it was because of our transparency, openness and unwavering compliance with the law."
Attorneys for the RPOF consultants argued in December that the court should quash the subpoenas, suggesting they were “a fishing expedition seeking information that is not relevant.” They argued that there was no proof the House or Senate “utilized, considered or much less relied upon any information submitted” by the party officials and consultants. The lawyers for the consultants also noted that there was no attempt to depose any Democrats and accused them of targeting Republicans exclusively.
The voters’ coalition is alleging the two maps violate the constitutional amendments approved by voters that banned lawmakers from drawing districts that favor any political party or individual.
Weatherford and Gaetz steadfastly asserted during the process that they were operating with unprecedented openness and devoid of political influence.
“For anyone to say that any type of political or incumbent protection was considered in this map is just wrong,’’ Weatherford told the House when it adopted its map in January 2012.
Last week, the Legislature’s attorneys repeatedly attempted to shield the Legislature and the RPOF consultants from producing documents or being questioned in depositions, arguing it was part of the Legislature’s “work product.”
Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis rejected those arguments and, when the lawyers mentioned the emails, a reporter for the Associated Press requested access to them.
The 37-pages admitted into the record are one of only hundreds of documents obtained by the plaintiffs. There is no indication whether the other documents will make their way into the court file.