The Leadership Conference is working diligently to see that Tom Perez is confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Labor. Perez is an eminently qualified public servant and consensus builder who has dedicated his career to ensuring that all individuals are treated fairly and have the opportunity to succeed. He has served with integrity and distinction at the local, state and national level, compiling an outstanding record of achievement.
Commission: Connerly Anti-Affirmative Action Ballot Campaign Misled Voters
Feature Story by Tyler Lewis - 6/13/2006A new report by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission has concluded that Ward Connerly's so-called Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI), which would eliminate equal opportunity and affirmative action initiatives in higher education, employment, and contracting in Michigan, obtained its petition signatures fraudulently.
The report, which includes affidavits from hundreds of voters, is based on public hearings held over the past five months in four Michigan cities - Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, and Lansing. Earlier this year, Governor Jennifer Granholm asked the Commission to look into widespread reports that signature collectors had misled voters about the effects of the ballot proposal
"The people of Michigan were misled into signing a petition they would never have signed had they known the true intent of the initiative." said Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. "The commission's report confirms the fact that this proposal should never have been placed on the ballot."
According to the report, citizens at the hearings "believe that the actual ballot proposal is inapposite and incongruous to their own personal and firmly held beliefs about civil rights and affirmative action."
The commission found that MCRI targeted African-American communities and areas where large numbers of African Americans congregate in a "deliberate and calculated manner." Signature collectors would then tell these Michigan residents that by signing the petition to qualify the initiative, they would be protecting affirmative action.
The commission recommended that the Michigan Attorney General investigate the allegations of fraud; that the state Supreme Court "reconsider" the Court of Appeals ruling which placed the proposal on the ballot; and that the state legislature work to prevent future voter fraud in the ballot petition process.
MCRI had to collect more than 300,000 signatures in order to qualify for the ballot. The State Board of Canvassers deadlocked on July 19, and again on December 14, in its consideration of MCRI's certification.
A Michigan Court of Appeals' December 20 ruling in effect placed MCRI on the 2006 ballot.
Problems have arisen before with respect to Connerly's efforts in Michigan. He had initially aimed to qualify the initiative for the November 2004 ballot. However, several months before the election, a Michigan judge held that the anti-affirmative action initiative was "blatantly in direct conflict" with the Michigan Constitution and did not fully inform voters of its effect.
In the wake of legal challenges and a lack of resources resulting in a failure to get the requisite number of signatures, Connerly postponed his 2004 petition drive and vowed to try again for this year's 2006 ballot.