Redistricting commission begins potentially rocky process of selecting attorneys

By Jeremy Duda | Arizona Mirror

At least on a preliminary basis, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission will use the state procurement process to review prospective legal counsel, which would require it to do most of its work behind closed doors.

However, the commissioners may also change course down the road and choose a different process that would give the public a full view of their decision-making process.

Ultimately, the decision will likely come down to which applicants the commissioners favor. The AIRC doesn’t have to use the state procurement process if it wants to hire a law firm that already contracts with the state through the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. Procurement is only required if the commissioners want the option of hiring a firm that isn’t already on the attorney general’s list.

Nine law firms have submitted proposals to serve as the commission’s legal counsel, seven of which are on the attorney general’s list. At the time they made the decision to move forward with the official procurement process, the commissioners did not know yet who the applicants were. 

The reason for that is that they had to first determine what criteria the AIRC will use to evaluate the applicants, staff from the Arizona Department of Administration explained during the commission’s meeting on Tuesday. That ensures that the criteria aren’t geared toward any particular applicant and inoculates the commission from any potential accusations of bias in selecting legal counsel if it decides to select its attorneys through procurement.

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