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Monday, November 07, 2005

"Relax and Enjoy It" -- US House Members Stick It to Voters

81 members of Congress have contributed $658,007 to a committee formed to defeat Prop 77 in California, an initiative which would transfer the power of drawing the state's legislative and congressional districts from the state legislature to an indpendent panel of retired judges.

For the 25 of 31 California congressional Dems which are contributors to the anti-77 effort, donating money to snuff electoral competition is nothing new -- Cali's congressional Dems all kicked in $20,000 a piece in 2001 to have Michael Berman, the Dems' redistricting Rasputin and brother to Rep. Howard Berman, draw them a safe cozy seat.

At the time, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, one of the No on 77 donors, said:
"Twenty thousand is nothing to keep your seat. I spend $2 million (campaigning)
every election. If my colleagues are smart, they'll pay their $20,000, and
Michael will draw the district they can win in. Those who have refused to pay?
God help them."
(From an August 2001 article by Hanh Kim Quach in the Orange County Register, no longer directly available.)

In 2001, a big chunk of Latino voters in Howard's district were deemed unsufficently pro-Berman by brothers Mike and Howard to stay, so they were shunted to Rep. Brad Sherman's district next door, effectively saving Howard's seat. When Sherman kicked up a fuss, Rep. Berman offered the following advice:
"He should relax and enjoy it."
(From a Sept. 8, 2001 Los Angeles Times article by Michael Finnegan, available at FairVote.org.)

Representative democracy is severely undermined when it is rigged to produce predetermined outcomes. That is exactly what politicians did in California in 2001; that is exactly what the 81 members of Congress are doing with their contributions to the No on 77 effort.

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