TALLAHASSEE — In new court filings, House and Senate Republican leaders are conceding they deleted records related to the 2012 re-drawing of congressional and legislative maps.
But their lawyers argue they don’t know what they were — and were under no legal obligation to retain the records because no lawsuits had been filed when the records were destroyed.
The records are a major issue because last week, the Florida Supreme Court ruled state lawmakers can be forced to testify and turn over documents related to whether they intentionally redrew political maps for partisan gain last year.
The Legislature has argued it was protected from such disclosures by a legislative privilege. Forcing lawmakers and their staffs to testify under oath would have a “chilling effect” on future policy-making, they argued.
Last Friday, the high court agreed for the first time that such a protection for lawmakers exists — but it can be outweighed when explicit constitutional mandates such as redistricting are at stake.