How many members of Alabama's congressional delegation donated to a new redistricting nonprofit called Citizens for Fair Representation?
Citizens for Fair Representation, founded in November 2020 by three political consultants, raised approximately $109,000 from state legislators and PACS from December 2020 to January 2022.
The legislature met in 2021 to redraw its congressional and state legislative district lines in a process known as redistricting. The U.S. Supreme Court recently rejected the congressional map in its 5-4 Allen v. Milligan decision, and the legislature is about to begin a special session on July 17 to consider new congressional maps.
District lines are redrawn by the legislature every 10 years after the latest census to adjust to population changes in the latest census numbers. How state legislative or congressional districts are drawn can affect whether a candidate or elected official is electable in a district.
A key figure in Alabama's redistricting process is longtime political consultant Randy Hinaman, who has acknowledged being compensated by Citizens for Fair Representation.
In a transcript of a video deposition included in a 2021 filing in the U.S. District Court of Northern Alabama, Hinaman said he had been contracted by the nonprofit to "draw four maps, congressional, State Senate, State House, and State Board of Education."
When Hinaman was asked why a 501(c)(4) organization as opposed to the State of Alabama, Hinaman said legislative leadership had set it up "for the purpose of drawing districts," including in 2011 and had continued it for 2021.
1819 News asked spokespersons for members of Alabama's congressional delegation in office when redistricting took place in 2021 about their involvement with the nonprofit.
Former U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks said he didn't donate to the group in the most recent redistricting cycle. Brooks made an unsuccessful bid for a U.S. Senate seat in 2022 and didn't seek re-election to the House.
"I was contacted by Mike Rogers's office to help pay for an entity or a person to assist with Congressional redistricting, but in as much as I was running for statewide office and not in the 5th Congressional District, I no longer had an interest sufficient to cause me to contribute," Brooks told 1819 News in an interview. "I contributed some number of thousands of dollars back in 2011 or 2012 to a similar effort, but I do not recall the name of the entity or persons nor do I recall how much I contributed out of my campaign account other than it was well into the thousands."
Brooks said, "Certainly, if you do not participate in the process, you're more likely to end up with a result you disfavor."
"I didn't participate in the 2020 census redistricting process for election year 2022 so I don't know who did what," he continued. "All I know is there was an effort to get us to work as a team in order to help ensure that the interests of Congressmen were heard by those who make those kinds of decisions. The only money that I was aware of was the money coming from the campaign accounts of Congressmen. That there were private individuals also participating, I don't know. Maybe, maybe not."
A spokesperson for U.S. Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) said he didn't donate to the nonprofit.
"We decided to not donate as requested since the state was already providing the funds necessary for the state legislature to draw the maps," a Moore spokesperson told 1819 News.
U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) donated through his campaign to Citizens for Fair Representation in January 2021.
"Obviously members of Congress have a vested interest in how the district lines are drawn and if it will divide up communities in their districts. It is permissible under Federal Election Commission rules for campaign funds to be used in the redistricting process. This is to provide resources to give legislators multiple options to redraw the lines as required every decade," an Aderholt campaign spokesperson told 1819 News on Friday.
No other campaign donations by Alabama members of Congress to the group appear on the Federal Election Commission's site, but it's possible donations from the members could've been made to Citizens for Fair Representation indirectly or as an individual.
Spokespersons for U.S. Reps. Gary Palmer (R-Hoover), Mike Rogers (R-Saks), Jerry Carl (R-Mobile) and Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham) didn't return requests for comment from 1819 News.
To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email caleb.taylor@1819News.com.
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