Legal counsel fight was pivotal moment for last redistricting commission

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By Jeremy Duda | Arizona Mirror

When the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission chooses its legal counsel, a decision that could come as early as Tuesday, it will pass a major milestone that sent its predecessor careening into partisan strife and acrimony a decade ago.

The commission that drew Arizona’s legislative and congressional districts in 2011 quickly devolved into two factions, with its two Democratic members and independent chairwoman on one side, and the two Republican members on the other. That rift began abruptly when the Democrats and the independent outvoted their GOP colleagues on the selection of legal counsel.

The 2011 AIRC decided to follow the original 2001 commission’s lead and hire two attorneys, a Democrat and a Republican. But rather than the Democrats and Republicans each choosing their own counsel, Democrats Jose Herrera and Linda McNulty combined with Chairwoman Colleen Mathis to choose both attorneys, leaving Republicans Scott Freeman and Rick Stertz with a GOP lawyer they hadn’t wanted.

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