Michigan Civil Rights Commission Calling on Supreme Court and Attorney General to Take Action Regarding
Harold Core 517-241-3986
June 9, 2006
After a six-month investigation, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission on Monday, June 12, 2006, will release a report which finds that efforts to place the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative (MCRI) on the ballot appeared to be based upon a massive campaign of fraud and deceit.
At press conferences scheduled for Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids this Monday, the Commission will call on the Michigan Supreme Court to reverse its earlier decision declining to hear the role that fraud may have played in the MCRI effort to over turn the landmark 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger decision. That decision upheld the use of affirmative action at the University of Michigan Law School. The specific times and locations of the press conferences are provided at the end of this release.
Additionally, the Commission will call on Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox to launch an investigation of criminal fraud into the gathering of petition signatures. The Commission will also urge the Legislature to draft strong preventative laws to prohibit similar conduct in the future.
This unprecedented action by MCRC follows an investigation and special hearings that were held in Detroit, Flint, Lansing and Grand Rapids. Hundreds of citizens described in detail, experiences of fraud and deception by agents of MCRI in their efforts to obtain signatures.
During the investigation, representatives of the MCRI repeatedly refused requests by the Commission to present their perspectives or provide information to refute the allegations.
“Acts of misrepresentation occurred across the state, in multiple locations in the same communities, and over long periods of time,” MCRC Chair Mark Bernstein said. “It appears that the acts documented in the report represent a highly coordinated, systematic strategy involving many circulators and, most importantly, thousands of voters.”
The fraud allegations arose after hundreds of citizens complained that MCRI canvassers claimed that their petition was in support of affirmative action, when its actual intent is to ban the use of race and gender as a consideration in university admissions and government hiring, employment and contracting. Allegations of fraud became especially troubling following a petition filed with the Court of Appeals by the MCRI, alleging that the Board of Canvassers lacked the authority to investigate the fraudulent gathering of petition signatures. The petition, which was granted, effectively precluded the Board from examining the issue of fraud to determine if the claims had any basis.
Linda V. Parker, Director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, said, “It is appalling that such a radical change to our Constitution could be brought about through such blatant dishonesty.”
Although the deception was widespread reaching every corner of our state, African American citizens seemed to be deliberately targeted by the campaign, and thus disparately impacted by the fraud. “As a consequence, the MCRC explicitly has both the constitutional authority and responsibility to act when one particular race is singled out and their civil rights are so grossly and profoundly violated, as in this case,” she said.
The results of MCRC hearings were not based on the actions of a few disgruntled opponents of MCRI who are putting forth baseless claims of fraud.
“At least two circuit court judges believed they were deceived into signing the petition as does Hannah McKinney, the Mayor of Kalamazoo,” said Bernstein. “Attorneys, educators and other professionals have also testified or signed affidavits as to how they were purposely tricked and deceived into signing the petition.”
Parker said the Commission believes that the number of people who have come forward is just the “tip of the iceberg.”
“Notwithstanding MCRI officials’ statements to the contrary,” she said. “There is substantial credible testimony that MCRI’s efforts to change the Constitution of the State of Michigan rest on a foundation of fraud and misrepresentation.”
The press conferences will be held on Monday, June 12, at the below locations:
, Cadillac Place
3054 West Grand Boulevard, Suite L-150
, Lansing Executive Office
CapitolTowerBuilding, Suite 800
110 W. Michigan Ave, Lansing, MI48933
, Grand Rapids Public Schools Administrative Offices