Eric Holder-led Group Fundraises Off Supreme Court Ruling

'We'll be honest—we're disappointed'

Eric Holder / Getty Images
June 27, 2019

The National Democratic Redistricting Committee led by former Obama-era attorney general Eric Holder sent out a fundraising email Thursday afternoon telling readers about a "midnight" deadline to raise $20,000 to combat gerrymandering in the wake of a new U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The NDRC has been Holder's pet project for a little more than a year and is trying to undo what it claims are electoral advantages Republicans have enjoyed in recent years due to how district boundaries are drawn for both state and federal offices.

Thursday morning the U.S. Supreme Court released a 5-4 ruling in which the high court refused to allow the federal judiciary to become the arbiter of what can be considered a "fair" electoral map.

"The initial difficulty in settling on a 'clear, manageable and politically neutral' test for fairness is that it is not even clear what fairness looks like in this context," the majority ruling read.

"We'll be honest—we're disappointed," the NRDC email said in response.

"But we've also been preparing for this moment. Our strategy to end gerrymandering has never relied on one decision from the Supreme Court. We know the path to securing fair maps during 2021 redistricting will require action on multiple fronts, and it’s now more critical than ever that we fund the electoral, reform, and voter mobilization efforts of our strategy," the NRDC wrote (emphasis original).

A recent report from Vice News said that "the fundraising arm of the NDRC raised $2.5 million in 2018 and has donated a lot of that money to state-level candidates and state parties."

Court cases over gerrymandered districts have been bubbling up over the last few years in states like North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania.

Thursday's ruling from the highest federal court in the land may still not preclude state supreme courts from becoming involved in how districts are determined within their jurisdiction.

In February, Holder’s group got a boost when it announced that it was merging with "Organizing for America," a group previously led by President Obama.

"The integration of OFA with NDRC, into our redistricting effort, is going to help us have activists all over the country who are fighting for fair maps and more representative democracy," Holder told the Hill at the time.

Shortly after the 2018 elections, Holder boasted about Democrats winning majorities in some states the NRDC had been targeting. The Washington Free Beacon reported many of those states also got heavy support through various PAC and independent expenditure committees that were funded by liberal activist donors Tom Steyer and George Soros.

According to the current version of the NDRC’s homepage, the nonprofit is aiming for victories with state legislatures or governor’s seats in 2019 and 2020 in: Virginia, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire.