Fair Political Practices Commission Sues Proposition 54 Sponsor
The Fair Political Practices Commission, California's campaign watchdog commission, yesterday filed a lawsuit against University of California Regent Ward Connerly and his American Civil Rights Coalition, alleging that they are violating state campaign fund disclosure laws by failing to report the sources of more than $1.9 million in contributions used to support Proposition 54, the AP/San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The funding accounts for 88% of the initiative committee's receipts (AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/4). The ballot measure, also known as the Racial Privacy Initiative, would prevent California government agencies and schools from collecting racial and ethnic data but would allow exemptions in instances involving some medical research data, convicted criminals or crime suspects and occasions in which the federal government requires racial data (California Healthline, 9/2). The lawsuit requests that Sacramento Superior Court Judge Thomas Cecil order Connerly to release donor information before the Oct. 7 election (AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/4). The FPPC also is asking that the court assess penalties, which could equal the amount that the organization failed to disclose (Landsberg, Los Angeles Times, 9/4). The lawsuit is the commission's first to be filed before an election (AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/4). Steven Russo, head of the FPPC's enforcement division, said that ACRC "knows it has a filing obligation and has declined to fulfill that obligation." Russo said that Connerly refused to disclose contributors even after the FPPC tried to negotiate a settlement. Connerly said the FPPC reneged on the settlement at the last minute. A hearing has been set for Sept. 26 (Los Angeles Times, 9/4).
California Healthline rounds up additional recent Proposition 54 coverage, summaries of which are provided below.
- Systems used to categorize people based on race are "arcane, crude, arbitrary and immoral" and have "always fragmented the human family," Connerly writes in a Los Angeles Times opinion piece. He adds that opponents of Proposition 54 "have irresponsibly made public health the centerpiece of their desperate campaign to preserve racial categories" even though the initiative's "plain language" makes it "abundantly clear that this initiative does not apply to collecting medical and health-related data" (Connerly, Los Angeles Times, 9/4).
- The Justice Department on Tuesday approved a petition to include Proposition 54 on the Oct. 7 recall ballot, the Los Angeles Times reports. The state was required to obtain Justice Department approval to move Proposition 54 to the recall ballot from its originally scheduled March ballot date (Los Angeles Times, 9/3).
- The California Wellness Foundation last week released the results of a poll of 629 registered voters that found that voters respond differently to arguments for and against Proposition 54 (California Wellness Foundation release, 8/28). Results of the poll are available online.