Clear87° FULL FORECASTClear87° FULL FORECAST
Make us your home page
Instagram

The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Sen. Tom Lee under oath: I did not draw Hillsborough congressional district for myself

State Sen. Tom Lee testifies Friday during the redistricting trial.

Florida Channel screenshot

State Sen. Tom Lee testifies Friday during the redistricting trial.

25

September

The Republican rift entered the courtroom Friday as Senate Appropriations Chairman Tom Lee took the witness stand in the redistricting trial over the state's congressional maps and testified under oath that he neither intended to draw a map to benefit himself and has no intention to run in a Hillsborough based district that was drawn. 

The allegation that the Senate map was drawn for personal, partisan benefit, is at the unspoken core of the public feud between the House and Senate over the congressional redistricting map. It was Lee's reconfiguration of Hillsborough that prompted House leaders to reject the Senate map and dissolve the special session in August without resolution. And it was Lee's district that was revised by Sen. Bill Galvano in a post-session map drawn in an attempt to "compromise" with the House before the court intervened.

The issue emerged in court in a polite but edgy exchange with Lee on the stand in the second day of the redistricting hearing. 

"Would you agree with me that if a legislator, whether a representative, or a senator or a congressman, drew a district that was favorable to that legislator that that would be a violation of the Florida Constitution?'' asked George Meros, lawyer for the Florida House.

"No sir,'' Lee replied. 

Senate lawyer Raoul Cantero then addressed the unsaid: "Let's come right out in the open, did you draw,'' he said, suggesting that Meros "insinuated" and "implied" that he drew a Hillsborough configuration to benefit himself.

Meros objected and Judge Terry Lewis allowed Cantero to ask the question. "I'll edit out the insinuation part but I'll overrule the objection to the question." 

"President Lee, was it your intent in offering amendment 9054 to the base map to draw yourself a congressional district?,'' Cantero asked.

"Do you intend, assuming map 9062 is approved, to run in that congressional district?" Cantero asked. "No sir,'' Lee answered.

"Is it your understanding that you have to live in a congressional district in order to run for that congressional district,'' Cantero followed. "It is my understanding that you do no,'' Lee answered. "No further questions your honor,'' Cantero finished.

Lee had earlier testified that the changes he had proposed to the Senate map, which were adopted in the final map approved by the Senate but rejected by the House, that he had no idea that the map drew U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, out if his district. He said he learned that only after the Senate committee had passed the map and Ross's staffer Tweeted it out.  

Meros attempted and failed to grill Lee about Galvano's map keeping Lee's home city of Brandon whole -- which also restores the district held by Ross. Cantero objected and Lewis sustained the objection but noted that Lee could be called back to the stand when Galvano's map is introduced. 

"Is it your understanding that you have to live in a congressional district in order to run for that congressional district,'' Cantero followed. "It is my understanding that you do no,'' Lee answered.

"No further questions your honor,'' Cantero finished.

Lee had earlier testified that the changes he had proposed to the Senate map, which were adopted in the final map approved by the Senate but rejected by the House, that he had no idea that the map drew U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, out if his district. He said he learned that only after the Senate committee had passed the map and Ross's staffer Tweeted it out. 

Meros attempted and failed to grill Lee about Galvano's map keeping Lee's home city of Brandon whole -- which also restores the district held by Ross. Cantero objected and Lewis sustained the objection but noted that Lee could be called back to the stand when Galvano's map is introduced. 

 

 

[Last modified: Saturday, September 26, 2015 11:49am]

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...