Who Is Paying to End Affirmative Action? High-Ranking Bush Officials, Rupert Murdoch
In just eight days, Michigan will vote on the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI)—an anti-opportunity proposal that would end affirmative action in public education, employment and contracting. The MCRI has raised $2 million thus far, $450,000 of which was donated by long-time affirmative-action foe Ward Connerly.
Both Connerly and Linda Chavez of the Center for Equal Opportunity (CEO) have been less than forthcoming about who finances their operations. Where does the money trail lead? It ends up with Gerald Reynolds, Abigail Thernstrom and Rupert Murdoch.
Reynolds and Thernstrom are, respectively, chair and vice chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (UCCR). President Bush appointed Reynolds and Congress appointed Thernstrom. How are they connected with the campaign to end affirmative action?
The big question: Where do they get their money?
Leading conservative groups give money to CEO through its parent organization, Equal Opportunity Foundation (EOF). Manhattan Institute senior fellow Thernstrom, who has been among the most outspoken critics of affirmative action and the feminist movement, sits on EOF's board, according to historian Lee Cokorinos’ The Assault on Diversity. She is the vice chair of UCCR and a member of the Massachusetts Board of Education.
Thernstrom and UCCR Chair Reynolds joined Connerly and Chavez in developing the Citizens' Initiative on Race and Ethnicity—a platform for opponents to former President Clinton's Initiative on Race. Reynolds also worked directly for CEO as a legal analyst prior to becoming president of the Center for Black Leadership, a conservative think-tank.
The Lambe Foundation, with libertarian Charles G. Koch on the board, also has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to CEO. Funding for the Lambe Foundation comes from Koch Industries, the nation's largest privately held energy company with more than $25 billion in annual sales.
Koch's brother David funded publication of Affirmative Action Fraud—a book Cokorinos describes as one of the most cutting diatribes against affirmative action in history. The Koch brothers have a combined fortune of more than $3 billion.
Chavez is against the Equal Rights Amendment, works closely with Pat Buchanan and former Secretary of Education William Bennett and advocates English-only laws and tight border security. Formerly President Reagan's appointed U.S. Commission on Civil Rights staff director, Chavez has remained well networked with the conservative Federalist Society, which makes up President Bush's White House legal team.
(See also: Affirmative-Action Foes Twist the Facts)
Where does Connerly get his cash?
Connerly founded the American Civil Rights Institute (ACRI) and the American Civil Rights Coalition (ACRC) on the heels of his campaign to end affirmative action in California with the passage of Proposition 209, reports Cokorinos. ACRI is the tax-exempt entity and ACRC is the "political arm" of "Ward Connerly's shop." They both are headquartered in Sacramento and have the same address.
The $5.2-million Proposition 209 campaign contributions included more than $3 million from state and national Republican parties and $750,000 from media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who owns FOX.
It's no coincidence that MCRI Executive Director Jennifer Gratz appeared on FOX's "O'Reilly Factor" two weeks ago, with the campaign to end affirmative action in Michigan down to the wire.
Connerly and Chavez, a FOX news analyst and syndicated columnist, share many of the same political backers. For example, both have received extensive support from the Bradley, Donner and Sarah Scaife Foundations. The Scaife Foundation is funded by industrial tycoon Richard Mellon Scaife, who donated more than $17.6 million to 170 conservative think-tanks in 1993, the most recent data available.
Federalist Society Counsel T. Kenneth Crib sits on the board of the Scaife Foundation, which gave ACRI $525,000 between 1998 and 2000 and CEO $395,000 between 1995 and 2000.
ACRI Co-Chair Thomas Rhodes also is on the board of directors for the Bradley Foundation, the principal sponsor of the ACRI. He is president of the conservative National Review Board, which opposed the Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education decision, and a former investment banker with Goldman Sachs. Rhodes also has been a trustee of the conservative Heritage Foundation and of the Manhattan Institute, which links him to Thernstrom and Cribb, whom Cokorinos calls the "unofficial liaison between the Reagan administration and the Heritage Foundation."
Campaign to end affirmative action
The anti-affirmative-action movement gains momentum through support from deep-pocketed conservatives and campaigns duplicitously framed in the name of civil rights. Ward Connerly's current campaign in Michigan may be the most deceitful yet.
NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund Associate Director-Counsel Ted Shaw addresses this point in his introduction to Cokorinos' book. Shaw writes: "The extensive proportions of the anti-diversity movement serve as a wake-up call to the naïve, the uninformed and the willfully blind. If the civil-rights movement was a revolution that transformed the United States into a more inclusive society, the counterrevolution is here."
"I think whether you're in Arizona or Texas or South Carolina or New York, we should all be worried about allowing Proposal 2 to succeed in Michigan," says Frank Fountain, senior vice president of external affairs and public policy for DaimlerChrysler, No. 43 in The 2006 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity®. "After all, the money to finance the anti-affirmative-action campaign is coming from outside the state of Michigan. It's coming from sources that are not transparent. We have no idea who the individuals are who are contributing money to write this off the books."