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White House out to gut civil rights panel

February 8, 2002 | Page 2

THE U.S. Commission on Civil Rights raised a stink about George W. Bush's fraudulent election victory in Florida that allowed him to steal the White House. The disenfranchised spoke out at commission hearings, and the panel's report exposed the fact that Black voters in Florida were 10 times more likely than white voters to have their ballots thrown out.

Bush has been out for revenge ever since. As soon as he took over, Bush appointed conservative Republican Jennifer Cabranes Braceras to fill a vacancy on the commission. Not that Braceras cares to serve. "I continue to believe that the commission has outlived its usefulness," she told the Washington Post.

Now, Bush is trying to get conservative lawyer Peter Kirsanow appointed. Kirsanow is a member of the Center for New Black Leadership, a group of Black conservatives. He opposes affirmative action, calling it a "colossal failure" and "repugnant to the most fundamental tenets of democracy." He also supports school vouchers and opposes raising the minimum wage.

Commission head Mary Frances Berry challenged Kirsanow's appointment, which was held up by a federal judge earlier this week. But Bush has already slipped in one of Kirsanow's buddies at the Center for New Black Leadership.

Bush picked Gerald Reynolds for assistant secretary of education for civil rights. Reynolds showed his "commitment" to civil rights with his recent comment that the NAACP "labors mightily to preserve special advantages for political interest groups."

"It's quite extraordinary that Mr. Bush, who says he cares about education, uses the Education Department as a parking lot for ideological zealots," said William Taylor, acting chair of the Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights.

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