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ProPublica: Sherman may have tried to sway Calif. redistricting panel

by Jonah Lowenfeld

December 25, 2011 | 7:06 am

The redistricting panel that redrew California’s political boundaries earlier this year was created by ballot initiative in an effort to ensure that voters choose their politicians and not the other way around. But as noted in an earlier entry on this blog, a recent ProPublica investigation suggests that Democratic officials made concerted efforts to sway California’s redistricting panel in an effort to protect incumbents.

And in a Q&A-formatted update to their story on December 23, the ProPublica journalists identified what they called “evidence of an effort to influence the [redistricting] process” that can be traced back to Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks), who is facing fellow incumbent Democrat, Rep. Howard Berman (D-Van Nuys), in a race for reelection in the newly redrawn 30th congressional district.

Here’s how ProPublica’s Olga Pierce, Jeff Larson and Lois Beckett explained it:

According to FEC [Federal Election Commission] records, on May 23, Sherman’s PAC [Political Action Committee] paid $15,000, to an entity it called “PMPA” in their disclosures. The address of PMPA is the home of redistricting consultant Paul Mitchell’s mother in Glendale. One of Paul Mitchell’s firms is called Paul Mitchell Public Affairs, or PMPA. It’s not clear what the work was for. Mitchell didn’t respond to our request about his work about Sherman.

In the end, Sherman appears to have come out ahead. The so-called Berman-Sherman district was 60 percent from Sherman’s old district, and 16 percent from Berman’s district.

Sherman’s office did not return our requests for comment.

Berman, who was quoted in the ProPublica reporters’ recent update, said he didn’t try to influence this year’s process. Berman effectively ran California’s congressional redistricting process before the Citizens Redistricting Commission was created.

It’s Christmas, but this blogger will make inquiries to the Sherman campaign and to Mitchell after the holiday.

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As a result of California’s 2011 redistricting, two Jewish Democratic incumbent congressmen, Howard Berman (D - Valley Village) and Brad Sherman (D - Sherman Oaks), have both...

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