- Connerly’s “Super Tuesday”—The Politics of Carpetbagging
- Affirmative Action Bans – Not a Home Grown Phenomenon
Affirmative Action Bans – Not a Home Grown Phenomenon
Ward Connerly's campaign to re-write constitutions in Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma is an out of state effort based in California. In fact 97% of the contributions to his state-based efforts come from out-of-state. Connerly's has spent over $2.8 million on his campaign in the five states but 95% of the expenditures have gone to out-of-state interests, with the majority of his funding going to the Georgia based, National Ballot Access.
Finding Shills in the States
ACRI could not have gotten off the ground without the major backing of the right wing in Washington and New York. In January 1997, Connerly announced the formation of ACRI with the backing of Rhodes, Newt Gingrich, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform and Clint Bolick, a former Clarence Thomas sidekick then with the Institute for Justice. Norquist saw Connerly’s ACRI as complimentary to his ballot initiative efforts for tax cuts and term limits across the U.S., saying that “like term limits and the tax revolt, it will start at the state level through initiatives and then move to the legislatures and the federal level.” He sent letters to 300 activists around the country urging them to contact Connerly about starting initiative campaigns in their states, whom he predicted would have ballot initiatives in “5 to 10 states” in 1998. Connerly said he was targeting Florida, Colorado, Arizona, Oregon and Washington state (only one of which would eventually come through).
NEBRASKA Nebraska: Doug Tietz, a graduate of Morton Blackwell’s Youth Leadership School, is the former chairman of the Michigan chapter of Young Americans for Freedom and also served as secretary of the national board of YAF. He was reportedly the person who videoed a confrontation in Oklahoma over whether a signature gatherer was engaging in deceptive practices. Connerly’s lobbyists in Nebraska for the American Civil Rights Coalition are Scott C. Berryman and Mick Mines, both listed on state records as accountable to Tietz. The first quarter 2008 state disclosure reports indicate that ACRC paid Berryman and Mines $6,890.62 in compensation and reimbursement. Nebraska Legislature lobbyist filing first session 2008. They are with the McGrain Berryman & Mines lobbying firm.
The money to support the Nebraska initiative is overwhelmingly from out of state, from two principal sources: Connerly’s ACRC and Paul Singer (see above). Singer donated $50,000 in January 2008. According to state records, ACRC’s contributions (cash and in kind) to the committee totaled $120,750 from January through the end of May 2008, and ACRC was reimbursed $3,750 by the committee for research and consulting.
William Grewcock, a conservative Nebraska businessman whose private foundation has contributed substantially to religious right organizations such as Focus on the Family and the Alliance Defense Fund (which are supporting the November 2008 ballot initiative to amend the California constitution to prohibit same sex marriage), contributed $5,000 to Connerly’s Nebraska Civil Rights Initiative in April. Grewcock’s foundation has contributed over $4 million to Hillsdale College, of which Larry Arnn, a longtime Connerly ally, is president. The Omaha-based Bill and Berniece Grewcock Foundation contributed $100,000 to the Alliance Defense Fund from 2000-2006, and $65,000 to Focus on the Family from 2000-2005, according to its IRS Form 990 tax returns.
COLORADO Connerly’s battle in Colorado is shaping up to be the hardest fought of all of his “Super Tuesday” campaigns. The signature gathering phase for the Colorado Civil Rights Initiative (officially Amendment 46), has been completed, using Edee Baggett’s National Ballot Access, and the secretary of state cleared it in late March for the November 2008 ballot. However, the validity of the signatures is being challenged in court and the outcome is far from certain.
In late April Connerly’s opponents, the Vote No on 46 campaign, filed a lawsuit to remove the measure from the ballot, charging that 56,000 petition signatures do not match names on Colorado’s voter registration list. The lawsuit also says that 4,539 other signatures appear more than once on petitions, and that non-Colorado residents collected 1,799 signatures in violation of state law. The suit challenges the validity of 68,948 signatures in all. The outcome depends on a pending court decision. Despite the fact that Colorado law says that signature gatherers must come from in-state, when asked by a reporter Connerly said that “about half” of his gatherers were from out of state. Connerly subsequently said he misspoke. Charges that signature gatherers were deceiving potential signers into thinking that the petitions supported civil rights have followed Connerly in Colorado as in other states over the years. The Denver Post describes one such case:
“Dara Burwell, 25, of Denver, said the tactic used by the person who got her to sign the petition was fraudulent. Burwell said she was approached by a young black man who talked about the importance of minorities and why the ballot measure should pass. ‘Given what he said, the language of the petition and also our shared experience as black people in this country, I believed myself to be signing a pro-affirmative action measure,’ she said. ‘I signed the petition, handed it back to him and in turn he gave me a flier to a hip-hop event—which I felt was further confirmation of that recognition of shared experience."”
The Colorado Civil Rights Initiative (CoCRI) is spearheaded by six people: Connerly, Gratz and Schachterle of ACRI/ACRC, Valery Pech Orr and Jessica Peck Corry, and Linda Chavez of the Washington, DC-based anti-affirmative action group the Center for Equal Opportunity. Schachterle is CoCRI’s registered agent with the secretary of state. Valery Pech Orr was the original executive director Colorado Civil Rights Initiative Committee. She is one of a long line of Connerly’s contractor allies who have fought against diversity-based set asides that prevent white-owned businesses from completely dominating government contracting, and who stand to benefit if his initiatives succeed. Pech Orr was listed as a member of the board of directors of Connerly’s ACRI in the February 2003 issue of its newsletter. American Civil Rights Institute, The Egalitarian, Volume VI, Issue 1 (February 2003), p. 8.
As co-owner of a Colorado Springs guardrail company, Adarand Constructors, Pech Orr was involved with her husband Randy in the landmark 1995 Supreme Court case that overturned some affirmative action rules regulating federal highway contracts and established that all government racial classifications must be subject to “strict scrutiny.” The Supreme Court declined to hear a second case over the enforcement of Adarand backed by Connerly, Valery Pech Orr and Peter Schaeffer (see above) in late November 2001. Adarand Constructors, Inc. v. Peña, 515 U.S. 200 (1995).
Jessica Peck Corry succeeded Pech Orr as CoCRI’s executive director in April 2008. Peck Corry is a young Colorado right wing activist who, as noted above, is on the staff of the Independence Institute, where she is director of the Campus Accountability Project and Property Rights Project. She has also been Front Range Director of Colorado Citizens for Property Rights, and ran as a Republican for the Colorado state senate.
- Affirmative Action Bans – Not a Home Grown Phenomenon