OMAHA — Two new radio ads from a group opposing efforts to ban affirmative action in Nebraska are drawing criticism.
Doug Tietz, executive director of the Nebraska Civil Rights Initiative, said Monday that the 30-second spots are fear tactics to deter voters from signing a petition to put a constitutional amendment on the state’s November ballot.
“This is 11th-hour dirty politics,” he said.
Tietz’ group needs to have about 114,000 signatures — 10 percent of the state’s registered voters — by July 4. He wouldn’t say Monday how many signatures had been gathered.
One of the ads from Nebraskans United suggests voters could fall victim to identity theft or other crimes if they provide their personal information for the petitions. The other says a ban on affirmative action would jeopardize services for women, such as domestic violence assistance or breast cancer screenings.
The ads began airing in parts of Nebraska on Friday.
Tietz said both ads are inaccurate, and that the only thing truthful is that scholarships couldn’t be targeted toward just women — or minorities, for that matter.
“You get a grain of truth for all the sand,” he said.
Messages left Monday night for David Kramer, a spokesman for Nebraskans United, were not immediately returned.
Supporters of a ban on affirmative action say it levels the playing field, giving everyone an equal chance at every job.
Opponents say it plays to people’s fears that unqualified minorities are being picked over qualified non-minorities. Affirmative action doesn’t mean giving preferences to minorities, they say, it’s about ensuring good-faith efforts to recruit minority candidates and keeping people accountable for their hiring decisions.
Nebraska is one of five states targeted this year by the American Civil Rights Initiative’s Super Tuesday for Equal Rights Fund, founded by California businessman and activist Ward Connerly.
Connerly has prevailed three times in past elections, with voters in California, Michigan and Washington approving proposals banning government-sponsored race and gender preferences in public education, state hiring and public contracts.
This year, organizers in Missouri have conceded that too few signatures would be gathered by the deadline, and they bowed out in Oklahoma in the face of challenges to the signatures gathered there. Efforts continue in Colorado and Arizona.
The American Civil Rights Initiative came under fire recently for a radio ad that quoted the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the former minister of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, and took aim at Ernie Chamber, Nebraska’s only black state senator, to push a ban in the state.