Florida’s precedent-setting redistricting trial is on its third day with Senate President Don Gaetz under oath, being grilled in detail about the deal he reached in secret with the House and Senate on the congressional map.
Gaetz, R-Niceville, who was in charge of the Senate redistricting effort in 2011-12, told the court there were two meetings between him and his counterpart in the House, current House Speaker Will Weatherford, in which they agreed to settle on the Senate’s map design for the final joint congressional map. The proposal boosted the number of black voters in the meandering congressional district that stretches from Jacksonville to Orlando and is the subject a lawsuit brought by the League of Women Voters and a coalition of voters.
The groups contend that the congressional seats violate the "Fair Districts" standards added to the state constitution by voters in 2010 which says that says districts cannot be drawn in a way to favor incumbents or members of a political party.
Weatherford acknowledged during testimony on Tuesday that the map was the subject of an amendment introduced with no discussion by Rep. Steve Precourt, R-Orlando, chairman of the House’s congressional redistricting committee after Gaetz and Weatherford had reached the deal.
Gaetz told the court that there was no requirement for them to notify the public of the meeting but claims "the door was open" and anyone could have walked in. Under cross examination, he said the map received bi-partisan support of the committee 21-5.