Ward Connerly fools you into dismantling affirmative action, again

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

The latest issue of Ms. Magazine, which hits newsstands today, has an interesting investigative report on Ward Connerly. It’s definitely worth a read.

(Those of you who have been with this blog since the Mixed Media Watch days may remember a regular feature we used to do called Ward Watch, in which we would affectionately refer to him “Moneybags”.)

Who’s Ward Connerly? Well, he’s a self-identified multiracial man who has made millions over the years by helping right-wing interests dismantle affirmative action.

Only he’s managed to do it by pretending to advance the rights of people of color. Like when he tried to fool multiracial organizations into supporting his initiative to do away with all racial classification (which would, not coincidentally, make it impossible to track racial discrimination).

Next week, on Super Tuesday, he’s trying to get anti-affirmative action ballot measures passed in five different states. Only in his usual sneaky way, he’s naming them “civil rights initiatives” to trick people into voting for them.

Don’t be fooled, people. Read on for excerpts from the Ms. Magazine piece:

Now, in what he is calling “Super Tuesday for Equal Rights,” Connerly is leading simultaneous efforts in five states to qualify ballot measures for the November election, each claiming to prohibit “discrimination” and “preferential treatment.” The deceptively named “civil rights initiatives” in Missouri, Colorado, Arizona, Nebraska and Oklahoma are really designed, like the California initiative, to ban affirmative action for women and minorities in public employment, public education and public contracting—although if Connerly has his way, the term “affirmative action” will never be referenced. 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.

…An analysis of the two organizations’ IRS filings shows that between 1998 and 2006, Connerly and his business Connerly & Associates received a total of
$8.3 million—nearly half (46 percent) of the $18.5 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 (see chart, page 38). In the last reported fiscal year,
2006, Connerly received $1.6 million— 66 percent of the $2.4 million in revenues his nonprofits generated that year.

…Connerly’s Civil Rights Initiative (CRI) campaigns use purposefully deceptive language to confuse some voters into repudiating policies they might otherwise support. Virtually all his campaigns purport to ban “discrimination and preference” on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin. Even those who read the language of his initiatives with caution will not necessarily recognize a ban on discrimination or preference as a vote to end affirmative
action.

…In fact, when the city of Houston changed the wording of a Connerly initiative in that city to pose a direct question to voters about whether affirmative-action policies should be banned, the initiative lost. But when elected officials and courts allowed him to use his deceptive language in California and Washington, the initiatives passed.