Organization Trends

Michigan’s Racist Redistricting “Reform”

If your window on the world is the Washington Post, then on December 21, 2023, you might have read a seemingly uplifting story about Katie Fahey, described by the Post’s Dan Balz as a young woman “with little experience in politics” who supposedly ended gerrymandering in Michigan. “Today, because of the grass-roots campaign that Fahey launched, Michigan’s district lines are drawn by an independent commission of citizens,” wrote Balz.

According to his online bio, Balz has won two regime journalism awards with titles that contain the word “excellence.” But in a development His Excellency could have predicted after a two-minute search of Google, the partisan Frankenstein monster Fahey created took a dagger in its heart before Balz went back to bed.

Gerrymandering by Commission

Also on December 21, 2023, a panel of three federal judges ruled that 13 of Michigan’s state legislative districts were drawn in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The redistricting maps were successfully challenged by what the court described as “nineteen African-American Detroiters who live in thirteen different Michigan House and Senate districts that each include a portion of Detroit” who sued because they thought “the boundaries of their districts were drawn predominantly on the basis of race.”

The maps diluting the votes of Michigan’s Black communities were drawn up by none other than what Balz described as the “independent commission of citizens.” Democratic lawmakers were the beneficiaries in all 13 of the disputed seats, thanks to the decision to divvy up Detroit’s voters.

This was all publicly known by at least November 1, during the preceding federal trial. That’s when Rebecca Szetela, former chair of the redistricting commission, testified that their map drawing process had “became all about race.” In their December 21 order, the federal judges quoted Szetela again, this time from the commission’s hearings, when she encouraged the creation of map lines that would “get rid of the highly concentrated [African-American] districts.”

Just as the complaint alleged, the ensuing state senate map sliced apart Detroit and— like Dr. Frankenstein creating his monster—attached the city’s severed parts to at least a dozen politically and geographically unrelated suburbs.

“Spaghetti noodles” was the gentle metaphor Szetela used in her testimony. The traditional term is “partisan gerrymandering,” and that’s what the unelected Michigan Independent Redistricting Commission has been about from the get-go.

The “Novice”

Begin with Ms. Fahey, portrayed by Balz as a “27 years old, with little experience in politics” who had a “general frustration that the system wasn’t working for most people, including her.”

In a 5 a.m. report on Hillary Clinton’s concession on November 9, 2016, the morning after the November 2016 election, the Associated Press provided a quote from just one attendee at the ill-fated Clinton “victory” party. The myth we have been expected to swallow is that, in a room packed with big donors and activists, the Associated Press lucked itself into locating the rare political novice in the room:

“My disappointment makes me not trust the rest of the world,” said Katie Fahey, who had flown to New York from Grand Rapids, Michigan, wearing a red pantsuit, expecting a victory party. “I don’t even want to go out. I want to wear sweatpants and curl myself up in a corner.”

She had a miraculous and speedy recovery, according to a legend still promoted by the Washington Post’s veteran political reporter:

“On the morning of Nov. 10, 2016, Katie Fahey posted a short message on her Facebook page. It read: ‘I’d like to take on gerrymandering in Michigan, if you’re interested in doing this as well, please let me know.’”

Voters Not Politicians

The supposed neophyte then created the Voters Not Politicians ballot campaign, which managed to raise $13.2 million from mostly out-of-state lefty moneybags, against a paltry $3.2 million raised by her local opposition. A $5.5 million chunk of Fahey’s loot came from the Sixteen Thirty Fund, an advocacy group controlled by the left-wing Arabella Advisors “dark money” behemoth. Some of the other six figure donors included the advocacy arm of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, an SEIU affiliate, and the National Education Association.

“Way to [expletive deleted] change the Michigan Constitution!” chirped Fahey at the victory party after Michigan’s credulous voters adopted the Voters Not Politicians proposal in November 2018. She had conned them into creating an unelected partisan monster that now stands on the bad side of a federal court ruling because it empowered Democratic politicians at the expense of Detroit’s voters.

Ken Braun

Ken Braun is CRC’s senior investigative researcher and authors profiles for and the Capital Research magazine. He previously worked for several free market policy organizations, spent six…
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