Ward Connerly's Big Payda from Fighting Equal Rights

Wardell Connerly is the founder and chairman of the American Civil Rights Institute, a non-profit organization which opposes affirmative action. He is considered to be the man behind California's controversial Proposition 209, which outlawed race and gender-based set-asides in state hiring and state university admissions. His twelve-year tenure on the Board of Regents ended on March 1, 2005. Now, according to the CNN story, "Affirmative action ban heads for ballot in 5 states,"

Ballot initiatives have been proposed in Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma that would give voters the chance to decide whether they want to do away with affirmative action in government-funded projects and public schools.

Ward Connerly,....the main backer of the ballot initiatives, says the 37 word initiative would read: "The state shall not discriminate against or grant preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting."

What's interesting about these referenda, is that they avoid the term "affirmative action" and according to Katherine Spillar's article in Ms. Magazine, "Ward Connerly Using Deceptive 'Civil Rights' Initiatives to Ban Affirmative Action" will not, if Connerly has his way, will not
be talked about in the campaign -- that's because most voters support the concept. The debate will instead focus on whether "unqualified" minorities are admitted to public colleges and universities over "more qualified" (i.e., white) students. What has never been widely reported in the coverage of Connerly's campaigns are his ties to the large public works contractors and construction industry organizations that stand to benefit tremendously from eliminating programs that help level the playing field for women- and minority-owned businesses.
The full article is not available online, somehting one of the community members at Newstrust complains is "crass." I'm not sure why Ms. should not expect us to buy the magazine or at least check it out at the library. After all, there are bills to be paid and Ms. has chosen not to take advertisements.

I have not yet been able to get my hands on a copy, having been busy today making a poster for the poetry reading, selling popcorn for th eLyric and attending a working group meeting for Burning Book, but what I was able to read in the the excerpt piqued my interest. California laws he promoted have affected women and minorities:

Having hit an all-time high of 27.7 percent of Caltrans contracts in 1994, women- and minority-owned businesses dropped to just 8.2 percent of those contracts in 2002.
Meanwhile Connerly, according to IRS filings between 1998 and 2006, received
a total of $8.3 million from the two nonprofit organizations he founded in the late 1990s to promote his messages and campaigns -- nearly half of the $17.5 million in total revenues reported in that period by the two nonprofits. In addition to salary and benefits, Connerly receives expense accounts and fees for speaking, media interviews and consulting. In the last reported fiscal year, 2006, he received $1.6 million -- 66 percent of the $2.4 million in revenues his nonprofits generated that year." Since non-profits are not supposed to enrich individuals this is very interesting.
The actual initiative hasn't gotten much national coverage that I could find, other than the piece in CNN, but there has been local coverage. I'll be back with more information when I obtain it. Right now, the library is closing, as is my perennial problem.