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THE STATE | THE RECALL CAMPAIGN

Prop. 54 Backers to Air Ads

The radio spots starting today take a swipe at Bustamante's donations to proposition foes and say he supports 'race preferences.'

September 11, 2003|Rebecca Trounson | Times Staff Writer

The sponsors of Proposition 54 announced Wednesday that they will begin airing their first radio advertisement for the measure today, taking sharp aim at a donation to their opponents from the gubernatorial campaign of Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante.

Bustamante announced Saturday that he would spend nearly $4 million on television ads to defeat the measure, which would restrict the state government's ability to gather and use most racial and ethnic data.

Bustamante said he would use contributions to his gubernatorial campaign by labor unions and casino-owning Indian tribes. Bustamante is a candidate in the race to replace Gov. Gray Davis, if the governor loses the Oct. 7 recall election.

Proposition 54 will share the ballot with the recall measure.

The ad, which features Proposition 54's campaign chairman, Ward Connerly, says that Bustamante "wants to spend over $4 million that he improperly received from Indian tribe gambling" to oppose the measure.

Speaking over background music, Connerly states in the ad that in contrast to his own views, Bustamante supports "race preferences," "racially separate graduation ceremonies" and "racially separate organizations." The latter allegation is an apparent reference to Bustamante's membership during college in the Latino student group MEChA, which in the past has advocated separatist policies.

The two men, who serve together as members of the University of California Board of Regents, have often clashed on issues before the board, including affirmative action. Connerly, who opposes affirmative action, was the leading proponent of Proposition 209, the successful 1996 initiative to end race- and gender-based affirmative action in government and education in the state.

Bustamante supports affirmative action.

In the 60-second spot, Connerly notes that Bustamante, who had said he would not enter the race to replace Davis in the recall, later changed his mind.

"Three months ago, Cruz pledged that he would not appear on the recall ballot," Connerly states. "Now he's on it. Do you really want to believe what Cruz Bustamante tells you about Proposition 54? Or are you tired of racial and ethnic politics and want to send the politicians a message to knock it off?"

Richie Ross, a campaign consultant for Bustamante, denounced the ads.

"This is clearly inflammatory race-baiting on a part of a guy who's pretending that he's for a colorblind society," he said. He said the opponents' ads would begin airing next week.

Justin Jones, spokesman for the Yes on Proposition 54 campaign, said the ads would air "several times a day" on radio stations KFI-AM (640) in Los Angeles and KFBK-AM (1530) in Sacramento. He declined to say what amount was spent on the ad.

It was paid for by the proposition's sponsor, the American Civil Rights Coalition, which is Connerly's nonprofit organization, and by the late Joseph Coors, the Colorado beer baron who died in March.

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