The Michigan Secretary of State’s office has dismissed a complaint filed by BAMN against the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative accusing it of laundering money through a group called the American Civil Rights Coalition.

    BAMN accused MCRI — which is proposing a ballot measure that seeks to end the use of race and gender as determining factors for admission or employment in public institutions — of concealing the sources of its donations on their campaign finance report by listing 75 percent of funds as coming from the ACRC and not listing the donors to the ACRC.

    Secretary of State officials determined that ACRC itemized its donations in accordance with Michigan law, and that committees such as the MCRI are not required to provide further itemization about donations from groups like the ACRC, the Associated Press reported.

    The original complaint against MCRI claimed the identities of the group’s primary donors were being concealed through an organization called the American Civil Rights Coalition. The ACRC was fined over $95,000 for failure to list its donors in California.

    “Their entire campaign finance complaint has been thrown out,” said Jennifer Gratz, executive director of MCRI .When the ACRC finally revealed its donors, it showed that over 90 percent of the donations came from eight wealthy donors.

    MCRI is not disguising its donors through the ACRC, but is instead disguising donations through Ward Connerly, said Luke Massie, BAMN’s national co-chair.

    Connerly, a former University of California regent and chairman of the American Civil Rights Coalition, has been a leader behind MCRI, modeling the initiative off a similar proposal he led in California, which ended the use of affirmative action in the California University school system.

    “Michigan voters have the right to know who stands behind this issue. Ward Connerly disguising the money may get around the lettering of the law, but it doesn’t get around the spirit of the law. Michigan voters have the right to know where the money is coming from,” Massie said.

    Gratz, however, said that Massie’s claim was completely unjustified.

    “Is he saying that (Connerly) is not allowed to spend his own money on a cause he feels strongly about?” Gratz asked.Connerly is listed having donated $430,000 to MCRI.

    BAMN has also accused MCRI of misleading voters who signed its petition. Massie said many voters were led to believe that signing the petition meant supporting affirmative action — not striking it down.

    Gratz said the Michigan Supreme Court has dismissed accusations of confusing language in the petition.

    “The Supreme Court upheld the decision by the Court of Appeals, which said that the language of MCRI is clear and constitutional, and every person who signed the petition had an opportunity to read the language of the initiative,” Gratz said.

    National Signature Management, the organization that MCRI hired to collect signatures, is staffed by independent contractors. Gratz said MCRI had multiple opportunities to sit in on NSM’s training, both secretly and publicly, to make sure that NSM was instructing its petitioners properly.

    Gratz said the petitioners fully understood what MCRI stood for, adding that she trusts that petition signers were informed with thorough and accurate information.

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