The news that nonprofit organizations are using their status to anonymously fund conservative initiative campaigns in Colorado is beginning to trickle down into the print media.
In a 1,900-word feature focusing on Californian and anti-affirmative action activist Ward Connerly that appeared in The Denver Post on Sunday, the question of who is actually funding the effort to outlaw programs benefiting women and minorities in Colorado came up:
Critics also have focused on the largely anonymous donors behind [Connerly’s] American Civil Rights Coalition. Some names emerged three years ago, when California’s Fair Political Practices Commission settled a lawsuit stemming from the coalition’s failure to report political contributions to a campaign advancing a different race-related measure.
Connerly’s group paid $95,000, admitted it violated campaign laws and released a donor list covering $1.7 million in contributions. Among the donors were now-deceased beer baron Joseph Coors, with a $250,000 loan, and media magnate Rupert Murdoch, who kicked in $300,000.
Connerly’s opponents focused on the donor list as proof that, far from garnering large-scale grassroots support, Connerly acted on behalf of a handful of conservative corporate tycoons with vested financial interest in eliminating affirmative action.
In the five states where Connerly’s initiative has been in play, donor identity once again remains largely a mystery. In Colorado, for instance, campaign finance records show more than $300,000 in cash contributions — about 99 percent of the total — came from "ACRC/Super Tuesday for Equality," his Sacramento, Calif.-based organization.
Connerly says the contentious nature of the issues, and the strident response of opponents, demands anonymity.
The American Civil Rights Coalition is a 501(c)4 nonprofit organization, one of three that have contributed more than three-quarters of a million dollars to Colorado initiative campaigns without directly disclosing funders.