For Ward Connerly, Affirmative Action Pays

Ward Connerly is an outspoken critic of affirmative in education. Wikipedia provides a history of his activism in this area:

In 1995, he became the chairman of the California Civil Rights Initiative Campaign and helped get the initiative on the California ballot as Proposition 209. The Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller Foundations, the ACLU, and the California Teachers Association opposed the measure. It passed by a 54% majority.

Connerly, in 1997, formed the American Civil Rights Institute. Connerly and the ACRI supported a similar ballot measure in Washington which would later pass by 58%. Connerly and his group worked to get a measure on the ballot in the 2000 Florida election. The Florida Supreme Court put restrictions on the petition language, and Governor Jeb Bush later implemented, through a program called “One Florida,” key portions of Connerly’s proposal, helping to keep it off the ballot by accomplishing some of its key objectives through legislation.

In 2003, Connerly helped place on the California ballot a measure that would prohibit the state government from classifying any person by race, ethnicity, color, or national origin, with some exceptions such as the case it is needed for medical research. Critics were concerned that such a measure would make it difficult to track housing discrimination and racial profiling activities. The measure was also criticized by newspapers like the San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times, that claimed it would hamper legitimate medical and scientific purposes. The measure was not passed by the voters.

Following the 2003 Supreme Court rulings in Gratz v. Bollinger and Grutter v. Bollinger, Connerly was invited to Michigan by Jennifer Gratz to support a measure similar to the 1996 California amendment. The Michigan Civil Rights Initiative appeared on the November 2006 Michigan ballot and passed.

I’ve never agreed with Connerly’s stands on issues, but I’ve always respected his right to fight for what he believes.

But I am very troubled by some reporting about Connerly in the latest issue of Good magazine. An article about him notes:

Connerly is also paid handsomely for his crusade—a factor his critics think is his true motivation. He makes no apologies for his salary. When he’s asked if reports that he makes as much as $400,000 per year are accurate, he flashes a quick smile and says ambiguously, “I hope it’s more than that.”

As it turns out, it’s much more. In 2003, he earned more than $1 million in compensation—the same year he was fined $95,000 by the California Fair Political Practices Commission for not disclosing who funded a proposed California ballot initiative.

In his defense, the Heritage Foundation’s Becky Norton Dunlop has said, “Most people who donate to causes such as this, that are controversial, recognize that talented and effective leaders must be compensated or they’ll find other ways to make a living. Connerly’s … willingness to speak out on the issue has had national impact.” In other words, he’s invaluable to the cause.

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McCain Attacks Quotas That Don’t Exist

No weapon in the Republican race-bating aresenal is more powerful than attacks on quotas.

The old John McCain, aka McCain the Maverick, wouldn’t go there. Today’s McCain, aka McCain Who’ll Say Anything to Get Elected, seems to have no such compunction.

The late Jesse Helms might have winked and nodded in approval. Helms, after all, showed the raw appeal of attacks on quotas in his now infamous “Hands” commercial, which was used during a North Carolina senate campaign against African American Democrat Harvey Gantt:

The message of the ad is clear: quotas make whites the victim of an unfair government that takes things away from them and gives things to undeserving blacks.

The old John McCain took a more moderate view on these matters, saying he was opposed to quotas, but in favor of affirmative action. In 1998, for example, he stated his concerns about a ballot initiative being sponsored by members of the Arizona legislature that would have ended affirmative active in the state. In a talk before a group of Hispanic leaders, McCain said at the time that “rather than engage in divisive ballot initiatives, we must have a dialogue and cooperation and mutual efforts together to provide for every child in America to fulfill their expectations.”

This past April, in a campaign stop in Youngstown, Ohio, McCain said

If you’re talking about assuring equal and fair opportunity for all Americans and making sure that the practices of the US military are emulated, the greatest equal opportunity employer in America, then I am all for it…

If you are talking about quotas, I am not for it. So all of us are for affirmative action to try to give assistance to those who need it, whether it be African-American or other groups of Americans that need it.”

That was then. This is now: McCain does a total flip-flop regarding affirmative action ballot initiatives in an interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News. McCain was asked if he supports a current anti-affirmative referendum in his home state:

STEPHANOPOULOS: Opponents of affirmative action are trying to get a referendum on the ballot here that would do away with affirmative action. Do you support that?
MCCAIN: Yes, I do. I do not believe in quotas. But I have not seen the details of some of these proposals. But I’ve always opposed quotas.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But the one here in Arizona you support.
MCCAIN: I support it, yes.

USAToday reported that McCain’s statements were “the latest example of McCain changing positions that had once put him at odds with conservative Republicans, including his new proposals to extend President Bush’s tax cuts and expand offshore oil drilling.”

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