Between his work for Republican redistricting leaders in the N.C. General Assembly and the Trump administration, the late mapmaker Thomas Hofeller could have been privy to a veritable legion of party secrets, many of them none too flattering to our political leaders.
The public got a taste last month when the government reformers in Common Cause accused Republican legislative leaders of lying to a federal court about the progress on their new maps in order to stave off a special election in 2017. Of course, GOP legislators denied the accusations, but it was a tantalizing entry for the mysterious Hofeller files, which a three-judge Superior Court panel is mulling as possible evidence in Common Cause’s pending state court challenge to the legislature’s gerrymandering ways.
Republicans, for obvious reasons, want nothing to do with a public airing of these possibly ugly documents – which are arguably public records – and it will be up to the courts to determine if there’s legal merit to the GOP argument for stowing them away.
In the meantime, North Carolinians are left to ponder what other gems or smoking guns may be nestled away in Hofeller’s possessions. The mind reels with the possibilities. Here’s a few of my (satirical) thoughts, in no particular order:
- Senior high school yearbooks for legislative redistricting leaders, Rep. David Lewis and Sen. Ralph Hise. Coincidentally, both are voted by their senior class as “Most Likely to Subvert Democracy.”
- One letter from Republican attorneys to Rep. Lewis in 2016, stating: “Whatever you do, don’t say: ‘I propose that we draw the maps to give a partisan advantage to 10 Republicans and three Democrats, because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats.’”
- One reply from Rep. Lewis to Republican attorneys in 2016, stating: “Nah, Ima grip it and rip it.”
- One newspaper article, dated 2016, in which Rep. Lewis reportedly said: “I propose that we draw the maps to give a partisan advantage to 10 Republicans and three Democrats, because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats.”
- One spine, unused, deposited by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
- One fake mustache, pair of glasses, and shoulder-length blond wig, worn by Gov. Roy Cooper during his secretive New York junket in the midst of budget negotiations.
- One letter from the N.C. Democratic Party, seeking to retain Hofeller’s services in the unlikely event of a shift in the legislative majority.
- One draft redesign of the state Legislative Building for the Republican caucus, bearing a striking resemblance to the Death Star.
- One draft redistricting plan for the Republican National Committee, in which California, the northeast and the Pacific Northwest are drawn out of the United States.
- One extensive branding plan for former Gov. Pat McCrory’s post-political career. In addition to his morning radio show and new podcast, the former governor considers lunchboxes, T-shirts, and an action figure, which comes with three wardrobe changes – including an empty suit, a Department of Public Safety work shirt for when it’s time to look active during natural disasters, and a Duke Energy jumpsuit with fun hardhat. Pull the cord on the back of the McCrory doll, and he says, “I’LL SIGN IT!” Also included is a pitch for a new McCrory-themed video game, based on the arcade classic “Rampage,” in which a 150-foot-tall Pat gleefully wreaks havoc in coal ash facilities.
- One grand jury indictment for President Trump, as well as an excited reply from the president in which he appears to have misunderstood, believing that he is receiving an award.
- One “Wish You Were Here” postcard, mailed to the White House, signed and addressed by former Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort, c/o United States Penitentiary Canaan in Waymart, Pennsylvania.
- One draft copy, unused, for U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis of an alternate op-ed for The Washington Post, in which the senator states that he will support President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the border.
- One copy of an alternate policy platform for Sen. Tillis – marked “in case of emergency” – espousing the opposite position for literally every point on the senator’s current policy platform.
- One draft proposal to rename the Legislative Building “The Smithfield Pork Yuengling Duke Energy Roses Maxway Super 10 Center.”
- An extensive cache of classroom textbooks, pencils, paper and other myriad supplies legislators have been hiding away for themselves. Material includes a viewing of Schoolhouse Rock’s “The Great American Melting Pot,” removed at Lt. Gov. Dan Forest’s request.
- One copy of “How to Hunt and Fish for Dummies,” intended for delivery to former state legislator Justin Burr.
- One hand-written note from Gov. Roy Cooper to Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore, stating: “Do you like me? Check yes or no…”
- One copy of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, lightly used.
- One copy of Dale Carnegie’s “How to Make Friends and Influence People,” never used, mint condition.
- One can of Raid, gifted to the N.C. press corps, recently moved by legislative leadership into a new space in the General Assembly basement. Can comes with a sticky note, reading: “If you could go ahead and take care of the roach problem we’ve been having down there, that would be great.”
- One copy of the Ken Burns documentary series, “The Civil War,” unwatched, for state Rep. Larry Pittman.