Wilson Accused of Suppressing Contract Data
Civil rights lawyers accused Gov. Pete Wilson in a lawsuit Thursday of suppressing information on possible discrimination against minorities and women in state contracting by halting legally required surveys.
Wilson, relying on a recent federal appeals court ruling that struck down an affirmative action law in state contracts, issued an executive order March 10 requiring state agencies to repeal the program and stop collecting data on the number of companies owned by minorities and women that are awarded by state contracts.
The lawsuit contended that Wilson misinterpreted the ruling; violated a state law requiring the data to be compiled and released annually; and cut off information vital to researchers, affected contractors and the public. A judge will be asked to order immediate reinstatement of the surveys at a hearing today in Alameda County Superior Court.
“The governor would prefer to suppress this information so that Californians will not know how much of the $4 billion the state spends on public contracts each year goes to women and minorities,” said attorney Oren Sellstrom of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights.
Wilson called the suit “a new low in this latest round of meritless litigation.”
“While claiming that all they seek is racial data collection, in reality these special interests are asking the courts to enforce part of a legislative scheme judicially declared as unconstitutional, which would have required agencies to report to the governor the extent to which they meet unconstitutional goals for contracting with California businesses on the basis of race and gender,” Wilson said in a statement.