Duval County Democratic Party Chair Daniel Henry confirmed Monday that a complaint has been filed against him by fellow Democrat, Jacksonville City Councilman Garrett Dennis.
The complaint alleges that Henry improperly colluded with Republican Councilman Rory Diamond to fix City Council districts in Jacksonville’s upcoming redistricting process, which happens every 10 years.
Henry denies any wrongdoing, saying Diamond approached him with an offer, which he rebuffed.
City Council President Tommy Hazouri has asked for Henry to resign.
“I don’t want there to be any kind of a taint on that process or anyone challenging the integrity of what we’re doing,” Hazouri said Monday on WJCT’s First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross.
Hazouri also asked the Republican party to discipline Diamond for overstepping the redistricting process.
Councilman Dennis is the chair of the City Council Redistricting Committee.
“Daniel Henry had drinks with Rory Diamond on January 24 where the deal was offered, and on February the 8th, he met a second time with Rory Diamond introducing him to Republican donors,” Dennis said. “We cannot be blindsided because Daniel is a nice person or Daniel has devoted a lot of hours to the party. We can’t shy away from the facts. Daniel Henry needs to resign,” said Dennis.
Dennis alleges that Diamond’s scheme would gerrymander Jacksonville’s districts by “cracking” the Democratic vote into multiple districts so Republicans could more easily win them. In exchange, Dennis claimed, Diamond would help Henry run for City Council in his home neighborhood of Riverside, which Henry denies.
“I received an invitation by Councilman Diamond to have drinks in late January. In that conversation he blindsided me with an offer to work together on redistricting. I told him I wasn’t interested and declined the offer,” Henry said in an interview with WJCT News. “Subsequent to that, Councilman Dennis found out about the meeting. He claimed I accepted the offer, which is inaccurate.”
Henry also disputed Dennis’ account of the Feb. 8 meeting, which he said was a tour of a Duval County school which had been previously scheduled, and that no conversations about redistricting had taken place.
The complaint against Henry will likely be taken up at the Democratic Party’s next meeting, which is scheduled for March 9. It is likely that an investigation will be opened at that time. According to the bylaws of the Duval County Democratic Party, a grievance committee will look into the allegations and report its findings in no fewer than 30 or no more than 60 days.
In a statement to WJCT News, Diamond said, “Other than to deny this silliness, I don’t comment on Democratic Party squabbles.”
Redistricting will begin in earnest as early as fall of 2021 once data from the 2020 census has been made available.
Contact Sydney Boles at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @sydneyboles.