Senate President Mike Miller and the P-Word
Lost in the kerfuffle about the depositions regarding the lawsuit against Maryland’s Congressional Redistricting were comments that were made by Senate President Mike Miller:
The Democratic lawmakers, led by Rep. Steny Hoyer of Southern Maryland, hired Washington-based NCEC Services Inc. to craft the map, according to court documents. Eric Hawkins, an analyst at the organization, told attorneys he drafted between and 10 and 20 different versions of the maps.
“The purpose of what we were doing was, No. 1, incumbent protection. And No. 2, trying to see if there was a way that there was another Democrat district in the state,” Hawkins said in his deposition.
Court documents show aides to Hoyer, Miller, Rep. John Sarbanes of Baltimore County and others were involved in that effort.
OK, so there are court documents that say Miller was directly involved with the effort to politicize Maryland’s redistricting process. That’s not news. I testified about to the Commission that Miller sat on in August, 2011 saying that very same thing.
It was what Miller said under oath during the deposition that really turned some heads:
Miller, in his deposition, repeatedly denied that politics influenced how the lines were drawn. Asked if he personally wanted to maximize the Democratic advantage in the districts, Miller flatly stated “no.”
“You credit me with having too much say in these things,” Miller told the court. “Since I don’t run for Congress, I’m not a member of Congress, I want lines that are drawn that are fair to everybody. And like I said before, I’m bipartisan. I work for Republicans and Democrats.”
Miller’s quote is, of course, inconsistent with what the documents say above. It’s also a little more than inconsistent with Miller’s tone back in 2011. On his blog Todd Eberly noted statements that Miller made in 2011 that seem like his motivations were particularly partisan:
According to Senate President and advisory committee member Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) “Congressman Sarbanes lived in Baltimore County, but wanted to continue to represent the capital city Annapolis.” This of course is the root of the problem. In a democracy, the people are supposed to go to the polls and select their representative. Under the process just completed, the Redistricting Commission let the representatives select their constituents. But of course not all representatives were afforded such an accommodation. I doubt Roscoe Bartlett asked to have his district fundamentally reconfigured and I suspect any request to keep Frederick and Carroll counties would have been ignored. Essentially, Miller confessed to partisan gerrymandering.
Miller’s peculiar statements continued as he argued “Maryland is a small state … and it doesn’t have many rural, conservative areas that would vote for Republicans that could comprise a district of 700,000 people.”
The next month, in November 2011, when Miller was attending a Congressional campaign kickoff event for then State Senator Rob Garagiola, he said some similarly incindiary things:
Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), who appointed Garagiola majority leader and who helped craft the new district, predicted the race will attract national attention because of its relative competitiveness and its proximity to Washington….
People are going to come from West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania, all around to campaign for this race. It’s going to be like the Civil War, like North and South coming together right there in Antietam,” Miller said, referring to the 1862 battlefield, which is in the district.”
That too is not the tone of a guy who distanced himself from the process.
The P-word has come up in relation to Miller’s deposition; perjury. From what has been released publicly. it’s hard to determime what the Miller may or may not have actually said under oath. Hopefully, the full transcripts will be released to the public so all Marylanders can understand that true nature of what Martin O’Malley, Mike Busch, and Miller were doing during the redistricting process. And without the full transcript, there’s just idle speculation. But people are talking, and as Greg pointed out on this week’s Red Maryland Radio “you can see perjury from there.”
Miller’s deposition brings up a cautionary tale that, for his sake, Miller hopefully familiarized himself with prior to speaking under oath:
Former Massachusetts House speaker Thomas M. Finneran was indicted Monday on federal charges of lying under oath about his role in redrawing state legislative districts.
Finneran was charged with perjury and obstruction of justice and could be sent to prison and lose his license to practice law if convicted.
“My response to the charges brought against me today is ‘Not guilty.’ My family and I look forward to my day in court,” the Boston Democrat said in a statement.
Finneran, who resigned in September to head the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, was widely considered the state’s most powerful politician during his eight years as speaker.
The former lawmaker was accused of lying when he testified in 2003 before a federal appeals court in a lawsuit brought by minority groups. The minority groups said that a new legislative map would hurt black and Hispanic candidates and protect Finneran and other incumbents. Finneran told the three-judge panel he had no role in drafting the map beyond appointing members of a redistricting committee.
In its ruling, the court said it found his testimony hard to believe.
“Although Speaker Finneran denied any involvement in the redistricting process, the circumstantial evidence strongly suggests the opposite,” the judges wrote. The court threw out the map and ordered a new one drawn, saying lawmakers sacrificed “racial fairness” to protect incumbents.
The indictment charges Finneran with three counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice. Each perjury count carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, while the obstruction charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years.
It’s certainly a precedent that folks in the US Attorney’s office may be interested in looking at.
We’ll see what happens from there. Miller’s deposition and the seeming contradictions between his deposition of 2017 and his comments of 2011 sure do bring up a lot of legal questions about potential legal issues that he may have. But the court the full depositions should be made available to the public. The people should have a right to see how much collusion occurred among Democrats to ensure that redistricting was the result of crass partisan games. It would certainly vindicate those of us, including us here at Red Maryland, who have been fighting for years for a non-partisan redistricting commission to draw fair and balanced Congressional and Legislative lines. And it will certainly clear up whatever questions Maryland’s voters have Mike Miller’s deposition, the true motivations of his involvement in the redistricting commission, and his opposition to Governor Larry Hogan’s meaningful redistricting reform plan.