Appeals Court OKs Disclosure Suit Against Connerly Group
SACRAMENTO, Calif.The Fair Political Practices Commission can sue University of California Regent Ward Connerly’s American Civil Rights Coalition for failing to disclose its major financial backers last year, an appeals court said in a ruling made public recently. The commission originally sued to force Connerly’s group to report major contributors to his Proposition 54 racial privacy initiative before last November’s election, but Sacramento Superior Court Judge Thomas Cecil decided there was no rush. The group then tried to dismiss the commission’s lawsuit, but Cecil ruled in December 2003 that the suit should proceed. The 3rd Appellate Court agreed with Cecil on procedural grounds. Neither ruling touched on the merits of the suit. Connerly’s group contributed $1.9 million to the initiative drive, or about 88 percent of donations to the measure that voters rejected last fall. The commission contends the group must say from whom it received the money it gave to the initiative. The organization says those donors weren’t necessarily intending their money to be funneled to the initiative, which would have banned public agencies from collecting and using many types of racial data (see Black Issues, June 20, 2002).Connerly argued releasing donor information would have opened contributors to harassment, in the same way he said supporters of his 1996 initiative campaign, Proposition 209 to ban affirmative action in California, were harassed. The debate now moves back to the lower court as the lawsuit proceeds. — Associated Press
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