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BRIDGE BRIEFING: Romney's Record on Issues Impacting the African American Community

Romney Administration

Romney Failed To Appoint Minorities To Top Positions In His Administration As Governor. According to the Associated Press, “A new report faults Governor Romney for failing to appoint minorities, particularly Latinos and Asian-Americans, to top positions in his administration. Of 163 top-level positions, fewer than eleven percent were held by minorities. That’s according to the report by the McCormack Graduate School’s Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at U-Mass Boston. Latino appointments made up one-point-eight percent of the total number of posts, even though Latinos make up seven percent of the state’s population. Asian-Americans make up four percent of the state population, but hold fewer than one percent of total top-level positions. A Romney spokesman defended the governor’s record — saying approximately 52 percent of all employees in the administration are women, and 22 percent are minority.” [Associated Press, 12/6/06]

Gov. Patrick Had 3 Times More Minorities In Top Positions Than Romney, As Governor. According to the Boston Globe, “[Governor Patrick] remarked on the diversity at his inaugural ball, said, ‘get used to it,’ and then made good, appointing racial minorities to 19 percent of top positions – three times the rate of Governor Mitt Romney.” [Boston Globe, 11/13/08]

Affirmative Action & Quotas

Associated Press: Romney “Scuttled” Massachusetts’ Affirmative Action Policy Six Months After Becoming Governor. According to the Huffington Post, “Mitt Romney scuttled the Massachusetts government’s long-standing affirmative action policies with a few strokes of his pen on a sleepy holiday six months after he became governor. No news conference or news release trumpeted Romney’s executive order on Bunker Hill Day, June 17, 2003, in the deserted Statehouse. But when civil rights leaders, black lawmakers and other minority groups learned of Romney’s move two months later, it sparked a public furor. Romney drew criticism for cutting the enforcement teeth out of the law and rolling back more than two decades of affirmative action advances. Civil rights leaders said his order stripped minorities, women, disabled people and veterans of equal access protections for state government jobs and replaced them with broad guidelines. They complained Romney hadn’t consulted them before making the changes, snubbing the very kind of inclusion he professed to support. ‘It was done under the radar and there was a big backlash,’ said Michael Curry, president of the Boston branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. ‘It was clear Romney really did not have an appreciation for the affirmative action policies long in place.’ Romney responded by creating an advisory panel to recommend changes. But he eventually retreated completely, leaving the state’s old policies in place.” [Associated Press, Huffington Post, 06/02/12]

1994: Romney Said He Was Against Affirmative Action Quotas And Against Repealing Laws And Regulations That Mandate Such Quotas. According to the Boston Globe, “At a recent working lunch with Boston Globe editors and writers, Romney looked good, spoke well, remained poised – and came down firmly on both sides of almost every issue… He said he’s against affirmative action quotas. Yet he also said he’s against repealing the laws and regulations that mandate such quotas, like the misnamed Civil Rights Act of 1991, which Kennedy helped write.” [Boston Globe, 07/12/94]

Romney Said He Did Not Support “Quotas Or Preferences” Of Affirmative Action. According to the Weekly Standard, “Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney neglected to speak publicly on a Michigan affirmative action initiative, but his responded that he ‘does not support quotas or preferences.’” [Weekly Standard, 05/07/07]

Romney Signed An Executive Order That Removed Punitive Measures Against State Departments That Did Not Use Hiring Practices Consistent With Goals Of Affirmative Action. According to the Boston Globe, “Romney’s order nullified earlier governor’s orders calling for punitive measures, such as hiring freezes and closer supervision, against state departments that do not use hiring practices consistent with the goals of affirmative action. It eliminated the explicit role of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination in state employee hiring disputes. It also replaced the state Office of Affirmative Action with a new Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity.” [Boston Globe, 08/29/03]

Romney Removed Requirement That State Agencies Provide Diversity Training Programs And That State Health Care Facilities Comply With Non-Discrimination Policies. According to the Boston Globe, “The Romney order also revoked requirements that departments provide ongoing diversity training programs. His order includes no discussion of how affirmative action must be applied in the awarding of contracts by the state; it revoked a requirement that all private health care facilities licensed by the state comply with nondiscrimination policies in-patient admissions. Dozens of other affirmative action regulations were also superseded.” [Boston Globe, 08/29/03]

Romney Sent “The Wrong Message In Signing Executive Order To Revamp The State’s Affirmative Action Program.” According to an editorial for the Boston Globe, “Governor Romney sent exactly the wrong message in signing an executive order to revamp the state’s affirmative action program, consigning to the trash heap 33 years of guarantees that minorities and women would have equal access to state jobs. It was an unnecessary move by Romney, who has a better track record of inclusion than this particular act shows. He should not hesitate to undo the damage himself rather than leave it to a 15-member advisory council he will appoint.” [Editorial, Boston Globe, 09/07/03]

Romney’s Executive Order Revoked Seven Previous Executive Orders And Removed Enforcement Power Of The Office Of Affirmative Action. According to an editorial for the Boston Globe, “The executive order, which Romney signed on a state holiday in June, only recently came to light. It revokes seven previous executive orders dating back to Governor Francis Sargent and wipes out the enforcement powers of the state Office of Affirmative Action. […]That move in itself sends a signal that diversity efforts are not important enough to demand the attention of the administration’s top leaders. The new diversity office will no longer have the authority to monitor the state’s employment practices and impose sanctions such as hiring freezes or closer supervision should departments not follow affirmative action guidelines. The role of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination in handling hiring disputes is being negated. Minorities, women, and the disabled could lose their jobs in workforce reductions caused by state budget cuts, because the executive order reverts to a seniority system, making minorities ‘last hired, first fired.’” [Editorial, Boston Globe, 09/07/03]

Romney Was Reluctant To Support Bill That Could Hurt Minority Preferences In State Contracts

Romney Reluctantly Signed Bill That Required 3 Percent Of State Contracts Be Awarded To Veteran-Owned Businesses. According to the Telegram & Gazette, “A new law sponsored by state Rep. Robert P. Spellane, D-Worcester, that requires that 3 percent of state contracts be awarded to veteran-owned businesses is running into trouble as critics question whether it will weaken preferences for minorities and women. Gov. Mitt Romney reluctantly signed the measure — an amendment to a bill ensuring that state workers in military reserve units do not lose pay — on Nov. 26, but said he may file ‘curative’ legislation to address his concerns. In a letter to lawmakers, Mr. Romney said he would have preferred to consult with his minority advisory council and commissioner of veterans affairs before signing the bill, but he did not want to ‘delay much needed payments to our public employees serving in the armed forces.’ ‘Traditionally, such assistance programs have been reserved for groups that have faced historic discriminatory barriers to full participation in the marketplace,’ the governor wrote.” [Telegram & Gazette, 12/10/03]

PROGRAM CUTS AND FEES

Romney Raised Taxes On Filing Discrimination Complaints

Romney Created New Tax On Individuals Filing Complaints With The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. According to the Boston Globe, “He vowed not to raise taxes. But Governor Mitt Romney never made any promises about fees. The governor’s proposed 2004 budget new fee on individuals who file complaints with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination.”[Boston Globe, 02/28/03]

Hate Crimes Task Force

2002: Romney Dissolved Hate Crimes Task Force, Which Studied Hate Crime Trends And Ensured Police Were Trained To Detect Hate Crimes. According to Boston Globe, “In 2002, Governor Mitt Romney dissolved the Massachusetts Governor’s Task Force on Hate Crimes, which was co-chaired by Gorton and was focused on studying hate crime trends and making sure police were trained to detect hate crimes. […] Franklin Soults, spokesman for the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, said the agency often hears complaints from immigrants who have been assaulted because of their race and people who have received death threats after defending immigrants in the media. ‘It’s not something that I think has gotten any easier in the past few years,’ he said. ‘The language and the feelings have gotten much more intolerant; there is no question about that.’” [Boston Globe, 12/13/10]