The daughter of a deceased Republican strategist that the New Yorker nicknamed “the master of the modern gerrymander” has released an enormous cache of files pertaining to his work.
Thomas Hofeller was unparalleled in his ability to draw district maps, which he also trained others to do, ones that essentially guaranteed Republican control of local, state, and federal governments.
Although his work reshaping Americans politics was relatively well known by the time of his 2018 death, Hofeller’s notorious penchant for secrecy meant that little was known about his techniques and directives, as well as those of the Republican party he worked for.
It would’ve remained that way but for his estranged daughter Stephanie Hofeller. His death inspired Stephanie to reconnect with her mother, which led to the discovery of four external hard drives and 18 USB thumb drives that, in addition to family photos and other personal files, contained thousands upon thousands of her father’s work files.
Soon thereafter, Stephanie revealed their existence to an advocacy group suing to overturn North Carolina’s political maps, which her father had worked on. She was then served with a court order to turn them over. She complied, but not before making a copy of some of the files.
Since then, the revelations contained therein have helped overturn North Carolina’s district maps and have been cited in litigation over the Trump administration’s now-blocked push to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. In one of the files, Hofeller concluded that a citizenship question would be “advantageous to Republicans and non-Hispanic whites.”
Her father’s former company has also tried to block Stephanie from releasing the files, arguing that they’re proprietary and “trade secrets.” In response, Stephanie began sharing the files with news organizations.
In early December, Stephanie announced on Twitter that she planned to make the files publicly available. The process of uploading the enormous cache took longer than expected; finally, on Jan. 5, NPR reported that the entire trove was publicly available on Google Drive. A website, TheHofellerFiles.com, also links to the cache.
Stephanie confirmed the same in a tweet after the news broke. “Check it out, download it, put it on the wall, stomp on it, sacrifice it to the god of your choice, make art, make noise, have fun!” she wrote.
Link to my drive is on, https://t.co/IlH9zmepNq
"Stephanie's Copy" is hypertext.
Check it out, download it, put it on the wall, stomp on it, sacrifice it to the god of your choice, make art, make noise, have fun!
— Stephanie Hofeller (@SHofeller) January 5, 2020
The files are organized in folders corresponding with the memory sticks, the four hard drives, and a previously unseen file containing emails. There are maps, expense reports, invoices, correspondence, court documents, and much, much more.
Hofeller has made no secret of her lingering animosity towards her father but claims that she is driven by altruism, rather than revenge.
In a cover letter called “Crowd Source the MF,” Stephanie explains some of the work that’s gone into making the files more manageable, as well as why she released them.
“I don’t, by myself, know exactly what We the People should do about our serious problem, the government of our country. All I can say, for certain, is that what we’re doing now does NOT seem to be working very well,” she writes.
She notes that the files also involve some extremely personal matters that have nothing to do with her father’s work. Stephanie writes that she decided to release these documents along with her father’s to “preserve the forensic integrity of the materials.”
As for her reasons for making the files public, she says that if they are the sole property of anyone, it’s her. But it’s her view that her father’s files rightly belong to the people.
“I also leave my sh*t here so that everyone can see the ridiculousness of the GOP’s assertion that these files belong to them. No, they belong to everybody, as they are evidence in matters that concern The People, their right to franchise and their access to shared resources.”
“Please download and distribute this material, at will,” she concludes. “It’s yours (be nice).”