Arizona Foils Ward Connerly’s Anti-Equal Opportunity Initiative

Media 08.22,08

Washington, DC – Ward Connerly’s attempt to scuttle Arizona’s equal opportunity programs fell short late yesterday, when he failed to submit the required number of valid signatures needed to qualify one of his misleading initiatives for the state’s November ballot. Following similar failures in Oklahoma and Missouri, this loss marks the third time this year that Connerly has been unable to get his initiative certified for the November election. 

“Despite Senator John McCain’s support for this divisive initiative, voters are catching on to Connerly’s shell game,” said Leadership Conference on Civil Rights President Wade Henderson.  “Because he couldn’t find enough voters to sign his petitions, Connerly’s campaign substituted fraudulent names and addresses that led to the disqualification. Trying to pass off petitions with phony names parallels Connerly’s initiative which, despite its title, would diminish equal opportunity for the people of Arizona.”

This year Connerly launched his anti-equal opportunity campaigns in five states: Arizona, Missouri, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Nebraska and has now failed to qualify in three. Yesterday, the Arizona Secretary of State invalidated 40.12% of the signatures Connerly submitted to qualify his initiative for the state ballot. This followed a lawsuit filed by the Protect Arizona’s Freedom coalition, which challenged the validity of over 100,000 signatures by highlighting fraudulent and illegal signature gathering tactics. The battle against Ward Connerly continues in Colorado where he faces allegations of fraud in his attempts to get his initiative on the ballot and in Nebraska where a broad coalition –Nebraskans United – has filed a lawsuit in 93 counties challenging the signatures submitted.

“Ward Connerly’s attempts to cloak his initiatives in the words of Martin Luther King are backfiring and rightfully so,” said Henderson. “As people find out the real harm his misguided initiatives have caused in California, Washington, and Michigan, his propaganda about protecting civil rights is seen for what it is. The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights will to continue to support state and local organizations that are on the front lines working daily to defeat Connerly’s anti-equal opportunity initiatives.”