"Is that a typo on the date?'' asked Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, during depositions in the Senate redistricting trial two weeks ago.
He was being asked to comment on the prospect that Senate President Andy Gardiner and Senate redistricting chair Bill Galvano may have privately selected the map they would submit to court in the pending litigation nearly a month before filing it -- a map they would never bring up for a vote before the Legislature adjourned its special session.
The potential plan came as a surprise to Latvala when lawyers for the redistricting challengers presented him a a memo detailing how Galvano and Gardiner had agreed to submit the map to court Oct. 24, even though they were pushing another map through the legislative process. If true, it raises questions about the seriousness of the legislative leadership's attempt to reach agreement on a Senate redistricting map during the three-week special session.
Latvala was one of two senators whose depositions were released by the Senate Tuesday as part of the pending redistricting trial scheduled to begin Dec. 14. The other was Sen. Tom Lee, R-Brandon, who testified that he believes the map that passed the Senate was handpicked by Galvano, but it was Latvala's inability to get the changes he wanted that led to the ultimate impasse. Download 15-11.25 depo of Lee Lee suggested that both Democrats and other Senate Republicans were involved in Latvala's attempt to influence the maps.
"We were engaged in a legislative leadership battle. Although that battle imploded the moment Senator Latvala couldn't get the maps he wanted over the weekend, he was nonetheless just as frustrated with his Senate president for his refusal to put his thumb on the scale on his behalf. And he took those maps down,'' Lee said under oath.
Latvala was asked to comment on the memo filed with the court that said that "On October 24, 2015, Senator Galvano directed [staff director Jay] Ferrin to draw the Senate's proposed 12 remedial plan. Mr. Ferrin drew the plan" which merged two previously drawn base maps. Galvano "reviewed the draft plan and approved the plan without further changes,'' the memo continues. "Senate Counsel George Levesque, Raoul Cantero and Jason Zakia reviewed the Senate's proposed remedial plan before its submission to the Court. President Gardiner approved the decision to file the map with the Court."
Senate attorney Jason Zakia said there is no evidence to show the map was drawn with the intention of holding it to submit to court at a later date. But Latvala interjected: "the date of the 24th is the day after the first bill came out of committee, before we had any idea of what the resolution was going to be."