VOL. 17 ISSUE NO. 28   |   JULY 20 – 26, 2011


Independent Redistricting Commission not so independent

Strategic Telemetry ‘provides data analysis, strategic advice and statistical modeling … to progressive organizations and campaigns’

PHOENIX – Arizona formed the Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) in 2000 through Proposition 106, which amended the Arizona Constitution to create a five-member commission to redraw congressional and legislative district boundaries after the 2000 census.

Previously, the state legislature was tasked with redrawing those boundaries after each decennial census.

However, Prop. 106 came about because some believed the process served the interests of politicians rather than the citizens of Arizona.

colleen mathisThe current five-member commission is made up of two Republicans, two Democrats and one Independent, Colleen Mathis (r), its chairman.

Mathis’ tie-breaking vote awarded the consulting contract to Strategic Telemetry, whose President Ken Strasma did microtargeting for the 2008 Obama presidential campaign while touting it “provides data analysis, strategic advice and statistical modeling of individual-level voting behavior to progressive organizations and campaigns.”

Precinct committeemen from Legislative Districts 6, 7 and 8 and Tea Party leaders have contacted Sonoran News expressing fear that Strategic Telemetry might not only redraw districts that could flip the state from red to blue for the next 10 years, but that Strasma could also be engaged in mining data to microtarget individual voters for the 2012 presidential election.

Considering Mathis was supposed to be Independent and the latest Arizona voter registration numbers have Republicans in first place, followed by Independents and Democrats coming in third, her tie-breaking vote to award the remapping contract to a firm that only works with Democrats and progressives raised the ire of numerous precinct committeemen and Tea Party activists throughout Arizona.

In fact, Strasma wrote a guest editorial for “Campaigns & Elections” in February 2010, in which he stated, “[New York Mayor Michael] Bloomberg’s decision to switch his party affiliation to Independent, and his progressive positions on most issues was what led many Democratic consultants, including my firm, Strategic Telemetry, to support him.”

ken strasmaStrasma (l), as research director of the National Committee for an Effective Congress, a progressive lobbying organization, has focused his efforts on microtargeting, which is basically finding vulnerabilities in undecided voters and targeting campaign messages accordingly.

His bio noted he headed the targeting efforts for Obama’s 2008 campaign.

Upon further scrutiny of Mathis’ application, it appears she neglected to mention her husband Christopher Mathis is an attorney and registered Democrat, who was paid $2,500 to work on the reelection campaign of a Democratic candidate in 2010.

Last week, Mathis was working with the commission’s legal council to find out if she can amend her original application to include that information, claiming it was simply an oversight.

Those who have written to Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne to demand Mathis’ removal, say Horne has responded by stating the Arizona Constitution designates all authority to remove a commissioner exclusively to the governor and the Senate.

Strategic Telemetry has since scrubbed its website and facebook pages of former references to its consulting work for progressive clients and has bolstered its resume to highlight its work in redistricting.

Meanwhile, the IRC issued a schedule on Friday for its first round of public hearings throughout the state, beginning this Thursday, July 21 at South Mountain Community College and ending Saturday Aug. 6, 2011 in Tucson, with several locations yet to be selected.
Visit http://www.azredistricting.org/docs/Public-Hearing-R1.pdf to see the full schedule of dates and locations.

readers love sonoran news