North Carolina GOP fighting furiously to suppress files of deceased gerrymandering champion

North Carolina GOP fighting furiously to suppress files of deceased gerrymandering champion
Image via Screengrab / CSPAN

The late Thomas Hofeller was a North Carolina-based GOP strategist who was known for his involvement in gerrymandering congressional districts in favor of Republican candidates, and North Carolina Republicans are fighting aggressively to keep the public from seeing his files — even going so far as to accuse Hofeller’s daughter, Stephanie Hofeller, of larceny in a court filing on Monday.

After Thomas Hofeller’s death, Stephanie Hofeller came across his hard drives while going through his possessions — and she shared them with the anti-gerrymandering group Common Cause, who North Carolina Republicans are accusing of obtaining them unethically. GOP attorneys, in their filing, assert that Common Cause’s lawyers “are in possession of documents belonging to others and containing express privilege designation.” Common Cause, the filing claims, has no right to be in possession of those hard drives.

The hard drives could contain valuable insights on GOP gerrymandering. Anti-gerrymandering activists have alleged that Thomas Hofeller played a key role in Republican efforts to get a question on citizenship added to the 2020 U.S. Census — an allegation that the Trump Justice Department has flatly denied.

Thomas Hofeller was 75 when he died on August 26, 2018, and Stephanie Hofeller has said that in October, she took the hard drives with the permission of her mother, Kathleen Hofeller. GOP attorneys have asserted that Kathleen Hofeller was believed to be suffering from dementia and alleged that “taking personal property from someone lacking capacity to give it is larceny.”

But Tom Sparks, an attorney representing Stephanie Hofeller, has countered that there is no proof that Kathleen Hofeller was suffering from dementia when her daughter obtained Thomas Hofeller’s hard drives last year.

Sparks told HuffPost, “The allegations as to Mrs. Hofeller’s incompetence are just that: unproven allegations. Mrs. Hofeller has never been found to be incompetent.”

R. Stanton Jones, an attorney representing Common Cause, also takes issue with North Carolina Republicans’ allegations against Stephanie Hofeller — asserting that the brief filed by Republicans on Monday “contains multiple misstatements and baseless accusations, which we will address in full in our response. As for the Hofeller files, they will speak for themselves.”

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