A white Florida Republican suggested knocking a black, longtime Democratic congresswoman out of her seat by gerrymandering more prisoners into her district, according to audio obtained by Politico and published on Wednesday.
Politico reported that state Rep. Janet Adkins (R) made the suggestion regarding U.S. Rep. Corrinne Brown’s (D) district in a closed-door meeting of the North Florida Republican caucus.
“It’s a perfect storm,” Adkins said on the audio recording. “You draw it in such a fashion so perhaps, a majority, or maybe not a majority, but a number of them will live in the prisons, thereby not being able to vote.”
Adkins made sure there were no reporters in the room before she made her comments, according to the report.
Brown, who is black, has filed a lawsuit to challenge the proposed redrawing of her district. She also told the Florida Senate Redistricting Committee that she was concerned that redrawing her district to include more prisons would lower its black voting population from 50 to 45 percent, according to Politico.
When Politico approached Adkins, who is white, about the comments she made on the recording, she said she was having a “private conversation” and noted that she does not serve on the state House redistricting committee.
Adkins said in a statement released later Wednesday that she was simply trying to explain what had been discussed in a special session on redistricting.
“My comments regarding the proposed realignment of congressional district five (as recommended by the Florida Supreme Court) were an attempt to explain some of issues that came up in debate during the redistricting special session,” Adkins wrote in a statement, as quoted by The Florida Times-Union. “I apologize if my statements offended anyone. Because congressional redistricting is a pending legal issue, I will not comment on this matter any further.”
This post has been updated.
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.