Texas Republicans pass law to hide evidence of illegal power grabs

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The law will allow GOP lawmakers who control the 2020 redistricting process to hide their communications.

Texas Republicans passed a law that will allow state lawmakers to keep any communications they have about lawmaking secret — a move transparency advocates warn will allow GOP politicians in charge of redrawing legislative and congressional district maps to avoid charges of illegal gerrymandering, the Dallas Morning News reported.

The new Republican-crafted law, which went into effect earlier this month, allows lawmakers in the state to hide any communications that pertain to "a legislative activity or function," according to the Dallas Morning News.

It's a law that Texas attorney Joe Larsen, who sits on the board of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, said is a "power grab," the Dallas Morning News reported.

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The law will "completely allow the legislators to control the message, keep anyone from looking behind the curtain," Larsen told the Dallas Morning News.

Back in 2011, Republicans were hit with a lawsuit alleging that GOP lawmakers in the state gerrymandered state legislative and congressional districts in a way that violated federal laws banning racial discrimination.

During the course of the lawsuit, the plaintiffs were able to obtain emails that had evidence that the GOP lawmakers were engaged in illegal racial gerrymandering.

With this new law, some worry that Republicans would be able to keep those damning communications private, making it harder to prove illegal behavior.

"This bill could serve as a barrier to discovery of very relevant documents and communications in the legal process around redistricting or other matters," Democratic state Rep. Chris Turner told the Dallas Morning News.

It's unclear if the new Texas law is legally sound.

However, the fact that Republicans are attempting to block their communications from public view ahead of the next round of redistricting in 2021 should be concerning.

As the saying goes, sunshine is the best disinfectant. And Republicans in Texas are trying to make it impossible to let the sun shine on their behavior.

It's a shady move that should leave the public scratching their heads.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.