Ritter: Anti-affirmative action initiative will ‘destroy years of progress’

Colorado Governor Bill Ritter slams Amendment 46 at a press conference. (Photo/Naomi Zeveloff)
Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter slams Amendment 46 at a press conference. (Photo/Naomi Zeveloff)

Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter lambasted Amendment 46 at a press conference this afternoon, saying that the anti-affirmative action ballot measure will hurt our economy.

“We are in a time in this country and in this state where we have to keep our economy moving forward,” said Ritter, who spoke surrounded by supporters on the west steps of the state Capitol. “Amendment 46 takes us in the wrong direction.”

Ritter said that diversity in the workforce helps the economy and that the ballot measure, which seeks to end race and sex preferences in public contracting, hiring and education, will “destroy years of progress” that the state has made in improving health care, education and jobs.

Ritter’s announcement follows a long trail of similar denunciations. Most recently, the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce decried the measure.

Amendment 46, known as the Colorado Civil Rights Initiative, is part of a multistate effort by California businessman Ward Connerly to demolish affirmative action. According to a recent analysis by the progressive Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, Connerly has gleaned more than $7 million from his two nonprofits, the American Civil Rights Institute and the American Civil Rights Coalition.

Ritter called Connerly a “constitutional amendment carpetbagger,” saying “it is wrong to allow him to do that to our state, to our Constitution, to our people.”

When asked which state programs will be cut should Amendment 46 pass, Ritter pinpointed the Fatherhood Initiative, a gender-based program that supports struggling fathers and their families.

Jessica Peck Corry, executive director of the Colorado Civil Rights Initiative, defended the measure after the press conference. (Photo/Naomi Zeveloff)
Jessica Peck Corry, executive director of the Colorado Civil Rights Initiative, defended the measure after the press conference. (Photo/Naomi Zeveloff)
But Jessica Peck Corry, executive director of the Colorado Civil Rights Initiative, said after the press conference that she thinks Ritter is wrong about the fatherhood program since her amendment focuses on public education, contracting and hiring.

Corry, who also works as a policy analyst for the conservative Independence Institute think tank, added that the Colorado Civil Rights Initiative is a “homegrown effort.” The amendment has been supported almost entirely by Connerly, who has sunk more than $300,000 into the measure so far.

She said that Ritter has violated state law by using taxpayer dollars to push his anti-Amendment 46 views. Corry pointed to an email sent out on Ritter’s Office of Economic Development letterhead announcing an event regarding Amendment 46’s impact on business.

“The governor is entitled to his perspective, but the law doesn’t allow him to use tax dollars to advocate his point of view,” said Corry.

Ritter, for his part, said that he did not use taxpayer dollars to slam Amendment 46.

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