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Fund-Raising Proves Challenging for Backers of Prop. 54

August 29, 2003|Mitchell Landsberg | Times Staff Writer

Ward Connerly raised close to $2 million to get a measure onto the statewide ballot that would limit the collection of data based on race. But the staunch foe of affirmative action has had far less success coming up with the cash to run a campaign for the measure, Proposition 54 on the Oct. 7 ballot.

Finance reports filed Thursday show that the initiative's campaign committee has raised $46,000 so far this year, giving it a cash balance of just over $47,000 -- a pittance by the standards of a typical statewide campaign.

"Ward has said from Day One, since they called the special election, that [raising money] would be our greatest challenge, with the compressed time schedule," said Diane Schachterle, treasurer of the Prop. 54 campaign. Campaign finance reports filed with the secretary of state show relatively few individual donors to the campaign. Most of the money raised this year has come from two contributors -- the Lungren Committee for Common Sense Conservatism, which is a remnant of former California Atty. Gen. Dan Lungren's 1998 campaign for governor, and Citizens for Andal, a committee supporting former Board of Equalization member Dean Andal, who ran unsuccessfully for state controller last year.

The Lungren committee donated $30,000 to Prop. 54, and Andal's gave $5,000, the reports show.

Prop. 54 would stop the state government from collecting information about people's race or ethnicity in all but a few circumstances, such as criminal investigations and medical research, and would ban the use of racial or ethnic classifications in most state-sponsored reports.

Advocates, who include Shelby Steele, research fellow at the Hoover Institution, a public policy center at Stanford, and the Libertarian Party, say the initiative would help create a race-blind society in which individuals are recognized for their individual attributes.

Opponents, such as Common Cause and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, say the ban would handcuff researchers, doctors, police and others who rely on race-based data.

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