Path 2

News Friday, Jul 31 2015

MEMO: "Inclusive?" Jeb's Record Of Failing African Americans

Jul 31, 2015

TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Eddie Vale, Vice President, American Bridge 21st Century
RE:  “Inclusive?” Jeb’s Record Of Failing African Americans
DATE: July 31st, 2015

Jeb Bush is speaking today at the National Urban League conference in Fort Lauderdale, but he gave Americans a preview of his thoughts on African Americans last week when he dismissed the Black Lives Matter movement as “a slogan.” With twinges of the same Bush who said he’d do “probably nothing” for African Americans during his first run for governor, his record is chock full of indifference toward black Floridians. He repeatedly failed to respond to issues caused by his own administration’s negligence. Bush’s resume reads like the out-of-touch Republican he is: End affirmative action, purge voter rolls, disenfranchise voters, and sign a Stand Your Ground law.

With Bush’s stump speech promise to campaign everywhere, including African American churches, here’s a look at Bush’s record that he’ll have to defend:

  • 2000 Voter Purge: Thousands Of African Americans Unable To Cast Ballot
    At the same time that his older brother was undergoing a recount in Florida, Jeb Bush and his administration was under investigation for wrongly purging thousands of voters from voting lists. According to the US Civil Rights Commission, black voters were “ten times more likely than white voters to have their ballots rejected.” The Commission recommended a Justice Department investigation because Bush’s administration potentially violated the Voting Rights Act.
  • Ended Affirmative Action Through Executive Order: African Americans Enrolled In Florida Colleges Decrease
    Jeb Bush signed an executive action banning affirmative action in state colleges in 2010. Bush likes to say he increased African American and Hispanic students, but after he banned affirmative action, black college enrollment diminished significantly. The kicker? Bush was the only governor who ever ended affirmative action, according to the Washington Post.
  • Mandatory Minimum Sentences
    During his campaign for governor in 1998, Bush proposed the 10-20-Life policy that would later become law in Florida. One lawmaker referred to the policy as “legal lynching” as a similar law in California disproportionately prosecuted African Americans.
  • Stand Your Ground
    In 2005, with an NRA lobbyist at his side, Jeb Bush signed Stand Your Ground legislation into law. Bush said he believed the bill was “common-sense” despite critics expressing concern that people “will shoot first and ask questions later.” After the 17-year old Trayvon Martin’s killing drew widespread attention to the law, Bush stood by it saying, “applied properly, I support the law.” His opinion hasn’t changed: at a NRA convention in April, Bush openly bragged about passing the law.
  • Automatically Disenfranchised Felons
    Despite other states making changes to their laws, under Jeb Bush, Florida remained on of the few states that automatically denied felons the right to vote.


Voter Purge

PolitiFact: “Mostly True” That “When Jeb Bush Was Governor, State Authorities Conducted A Deeply Flawed Purge Of Voters Before The Presidential Election In 2000.” According to PolitiFact, “Clinton said, ‘In Florida, when Jeb Bush was governor, state authorities conducted a deeply flawed purge of voters before the presidential election in 2000’ and ‘in 2004 a plan to purge even more voters was headed off.’ Clinton omits that this effort started before Bush was in office, though it did continue under his watch. In 2004, the state scrapped another purge after officials admitted errors. The statement is accurate but needs additional information. So we rate it Mostly True.” [PolitiFact, 6/9/15]


Thousands Of Voters Were Wrongly Purged From A List That Included Purported “Felons”

Salon: Thousands Of Voters May Have Lost Their Right To Vote Based On A Flaw-Ridden List That Included Purported “Felons” Provided By A Private Firm With Tight Republican Ties. According to Salon, “If Vice President Al Gore is wondering where his Florida votes went, rather than sift through a pile of chad, he might want to look at a ‘scrub list’ of 173,000 names targeted to be knocked off the Florida voter registry by a division of the office of Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris. A close examination suggests thousands of voters may have lost their right to vote based on a flaw-ridden list that included purported ‘felons’ provided by a private firm with tight Republican ties. Early in the year, the company, ChoicePoint, gave Florida officials a list with the names of 8,000 ex-felons to ‘scrub’ from their list of voters. But it turns out none on the list were guilty of felonies, only misdemeanors. The company acknowledged the error, and blamed it on the original source of the list — the state of Texas.” [Salon, 12/4/00]

  • State Officials In Tallahassee Ignored Clear Warnings About The Mounting Mistakes And Actually Loosened Criteria For Matching Voters’ Names With Those Of Felons. According to the Los Angeles Times, “Even worse, state officials in Tallahassee ignored clear warnings about the mounting mistakes and actually loosened criteria for matching voters’ names with those of felons, putting more innocent people at risk of losing their right to vote. The so-called felon purge drew little attention during the bitter 36-day recount battle between Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore last fall. But a review by The Times of thousands of pages of records, reports and e-mail messages suggests the botched effort to stop felons from voting could have affected the ultimate outcome.” [Los Angeles Times, 5/21/01]

Brennan Center For Justice: 12,000 Eligible Voters Were Wrongly Identified As Convicted Felons And Purged From The Voting Rolls In Florida; African Americans Accounted For 41 Percent Of Those Purged. According to Rolling Stone, “Back in 2000, 12,000 eligible voters – a number twenty-two times larger than George W. Bush’s 537 vote triumph over Al Gore – were wrongly identified as convicted felons and purged from the voting rolls in Florida, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. African Americans, who favored Gore over Bush by 86 points, accounted for 11 percent of the state’s electorate but 41 percent of those purged.” [Rolling Stone, 5/30/12]
US Civil Rights Commission: Black Voters Were “10 Times More Likely Than White Voters To Have Their Ballots Rejected.” According to the Guardian, “The eight-strong commission, whose report will be published on Friday, found that black voters were ‘10 times more likely than white voters to have their ballots rejected’, and pointed to the use of a flawed list of felons and ex-felons to purge the voting rolls.” [Guardian, 6/5/01]

U.S. Commission On Civil Rights Cited Condemned Florida’s Barriers To Voting For African-Americans During 2000 Election

U.S. Commission On Civil Rights Chairperson Berry, 2001: “I Am Deeply Troubled By Our Preliminary Review” Of Florida. According to The Houston Chronicle, “The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, citing ‘significant and distressing’ barriers to voting during last year’s presidential election in Florida, said Friday it will return to the state this summer to find out what officials have done to remedy the problems. ‘I am deeply troubled by our preliminary review, and I’m upset about the way this is going down there, with nothing happening,’ said commission Chairwoman Mary Frances Berry. ‘I want to get some movement on this.’ Berry faxed a letter to Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, President Bush’s brother, on Thursday afternoon, criticizing what she considers his lack of action and threatening to return to Florida to check his progress.” [Houston Chronicle, 3/10/01]

2001: U.S. Commission On Civil Rights Adopted Preliminary Status Statement Citing Florida’s “Numerous Potential Violations Of The Federal Voting Rights Act.” According to The Houston Chronicle, “On Friday, over heated objections from two conservative commissioners, the group voted 6-2 to adopt Berry’s preliminary status statement, which cites numerous potential violations of the federal Voting Rights Act. The commission voted unanimously to return to Florida to hold follow-up hearings once the group publishes its final report in June.” [Houston Chronicle, 3/10/01]

Commission Accused Bush Of Ignoring Racial Voting Problems, Called For DOJ Investigation Under Voting Rights Act

St. Petersburg Times, 2001: U.S. Commission On Civil Rights Decided “There Is Enough Evidence Of Racial Discrimination In Florida’s Presidential Election To Warrant A Justice Department Inquiry.” According to St. Petersburg Times, “With Republican appointees dissenting, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights decided Friday there is enough evidence of racial discrimination in Florida’s presidential election to warrant a Justice Department inquiry.” [St. Petersburg Times, 6/9/01]

  • Commission “Accused Gov. Jeb Bush And Secretary Of State Katherine Harris Of Ignoring Problems.”According to St. Petersburg Times, “While it also found ‘no conclusive evidence that the highest officials of the state conspired to disenfranchise voters,’ the commission accused Gov. Jeb Bush and Secretary of State Katherine Harris of ignoring problems.” [St. Petersburg Times, 6/9/01]

Bush Responded To Commission Report

2001: Jeb Bush Called Report Partisan, “Meaningless And Divisive Finger Pointing.” According to The Star-Ledger, “The report said Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Secretary of State Katherine Harris ignored warning signs of problems and pleas for help from county officials. Bush and Harris responded earlier this week that they felt the commission report was the work of a partisan group. The commission has four Democrats, three independents and one Republican. Harris said the commission has recognized that ‘Florida has addressed many of the commission’s concerns through landmark election reforms.’ Bush observed: ‘The time for meaningless and divisive finger pointing over last year’s election is over. It’s time to move on.’” [Star-Ledger, 6/9/01]

Black Enrollment In Colleges


Washington Post, 2015: “At Florida’s Two Premier Universities,” University Of Florida And Florida State University, “Black Enrollment Is Shrinking.” According to Washington Post, “As he courts Republicans across the country, Jeb Bush boasts that an executive order he signed that ended race based college admissions in Florida upheld conservative principles while helping minorities. ‘We ended up having a system where there were more African American and Hispanic kids attending our university system than prior to the system that was discriminatory,’ the former governor and likely presidential contender said recently at a conference of conservative activists. But at Florida’s two premier universities, black enrollment is shrinking. At the University of Florida in Gainesville and at Florida State University in Tallahassee, administrators say they worry that the trend risks diminishing their standing as world class universities and hurts the college experience.” [Washington Post, 4/6/15]

2011 To 2013: Black Share Of University Of Florida Freshman Class Plunged From 9 To 6 Percent. According to the Washington Post, “The black share of the UF freshman class, for instance, plunged to 6 percent in 2013, the most recent year for which data is available. That is down from 9 percent in 2011.” [Washington Post, 4/6/15]

Washington Post, 2015: Bush Only Governor To Sign Executive Action Banning Affirmative Action. According to the Washington Post, “Bush, who is expected to announce a presidential campaign this spring, is the only governor who has signed an order ending affirmative action. Seven other states ban race preferences, but all did so via referendum. Bush’s action in early 2000 thrust him into the forefront of a national debate that continues largely in the courts.” [Washington Post, 4/6/15]

Washington Post, 2015: When Jeb Bush Enacted Anti-Affirmative Action Policy, Black Students Made Up 18 Percent Of All Freshmen At Florida Colleges; That Had Dropped To 15 Percent By 2009. According to the Washington Post, “The growth in minority enrollment that Bush now points to is primarily a result of the state’s booming Hispanic population, which has led to a large increase in the share of Hispanic students attending Florida colleges. Between 2000 and 2013, the numbers of Hispanics, African Americans and members of other ethnic groups rose as the state university system got much bigger, with freshman enrollment up 35 percent. But as a proportion of the overall student population, black enrollment has declined — most notably at UF and FSU. At the time Bush enacted the policy, black students made up 18 percent of all freshmen at Florida colleges. That had dropped to 15 percent by 2009.” [Washington Post, 4/6/15]

2013: Share Of College Age Florida Residents Identifying Themselves As Black Remained About 20 Percent, While Blacks Constituted Just 13 Percent Of College Freshmen In The State. According to the Washington Post, “Nevertheless, the share of college age Florida residents identifying themselves as black has remained about 20 percent, while blacks constituted just 13 percent of college freshmen in the state in 2013.” [Washington Post, 4/6/15]


2015: PolitiFact Rated Bush’s Statement That Eliminating Affirmative Action Led To Higher African-American, Hispanic Enrollment “Mostly False.” According to PolitiFact, “Bush said that eliminating affirmative action in admissions led to ‘more African American and Hispanic kids attending our university system’ universities than before. […]We rate the statement Mostly False.” [PolitiFact, 3/11/15]

Mandatory Minimum Sentences

1993: Jeb Bush Said He Would Build More Prisons And Fill Them With More Prisoners. According to the St. Petersburg Times, “Jeb Bush, a 40-year-old Miami real estate investor, said that as governor he would dismantle the state Department of Education, build more prisons and fill them with more prisoners and make people on welfare get a job or an education.” [St. Petersburg Times, 6/15/93]

1994: Jeb Bush Said He Would Pay For The Prison Expansion Primarily By Freezing All Other State Spending With The Exception Of Money Needed For Public School Students, Welfare, And Other Entitlements. According to the Miami Herald, “Bush, a Miami businessman and second son of former President George Bush, said he would pay for the prison expansion primarily by freezing all other state spending with the exception of money needed for new public school students, for welfare and other entitlements and for the state’s mandatory reserve fund.” [Miami Herald, 1/11/94]

1994: Bush Said “You Need To Lock Criminals Up And Be Sure They Serve At Least 85 Percent Of Their Sentences. And For Juvenile Offenders, You Punish Them First And Worry About Counseling Them Later.” According to the Orlando Sentinel, “Bush, Connor, former state Rep. Chester Clem, state Sen. Curt Kiser, R-Tampa, and Pinellas County Commissioner Barbara Sheen Todd agreed that curbing crime would make Florida safer and coax tourists back. […] ‘You need to lock criminals up and be sure they serve at least 85 percent of their sentences,’ Bush told a crowd of about 200. ‘And for juvenile offenders, you punish them first and worry about counseling them later.’” [Orlando Sentinel, 8/10/94]

1998: Jeb Bush Favored Giving Mandatory Life Sentences To Criminals With Their Third Felony Conviction, “Except That The Felonies Should Be Of Specified Degrees Of Seriousness.” According to the Palm Beach Post, “Do you favor giving mandatory life sentences to criminals with their third felony conviction (three strikes and out)? Bush: Yes, except that the felonies should be of specified degrees of seriousness.” [Palm Beach Post, 11/1/98]

1999: One Legislator Called Jeb Bush’s 10-20-Life Plan A “Legal Lynching.” According to the St. Petersburg Times, “Bush’s 10-20-Life plan to crack down on criminals who use guns also has raised questions for some black politicians. The idea was a central theme on the campaign trail, but critics said the legislation unfairly targets blacks. One legislator called it a ‘legal lynching,’ noting that a similar law in California was used to prosecute far more blacks and Hispanics than whites.” [St. Petersburg Times, 3/15/99]

Stand Your Ground

2005: Bush Signed Stand Your Ground Legislation While Flanked By An NRA Lobbyist

2005: Bush Signed The Stand Your Ground Law While Being Flanked By An NRA Lobbyist. According to the Orlando Sentinel, “With a National Rifle Association lobbyist looking on, Gov. Jeb Bush signed into law Tuesday a bill that will allow Floridians to use force on an attacker without first trying to escape. Bush signed into law a broad new expansion of the ‘castle doctrine’ — an old legal tenet giving residents the license to kill criminals while protecting their home. Under current Florida law, a person attacked in any public place — a supermarket, a bar, a library — must first attempt to retreat before using deadly force in self-defense. The new measure, which takes effect in October, removes the obligation to flee, allowing people to legally kill their attackers if they feel threatened.” [Orlando Sentinel, 4/27/05]

Bush: “I’m Comfortable That The Bill Is A Bill That Relates To Self-Defense. It’s A Good, Common-Sense, Anti-Crime Issue.” According to the Palm Beach Post, “Bush, who has championed tougher penalties for people convicted of using guns in crimes, said he believes the measure is a good idea. ‘I’m comfortable that the bill is a bill that relates to self-defense,’ Bush said. ‘It’s a good, common-sense, anti-crime issue.’” [Palm Beach Post, 4/6/05]

Stand Your Ground Law Allowed People To Shoot Another Person If A Person Is Either Attacking Or About To Attack A Person In Any Place The Possible Victim Has A Right To Be. According to the Palm Beach Post, “Under the Castle Doctrine bill, people are allowed to shoot another person:n In their homes: […] – In a public place: A person can shoot if someone is either attacking or about to attack the person in any place the possible victim has a right to be. The bill overrides court rulings that people have a duty to retreat from such confrontations, and instead gives them the right to ‘stand his or her ground and meet force with force.’” [Palm Beach Post, 4/6/05]
Sarasota Herald-Tribune: The Likely Result Of Bill Was Innocent Victims And Bystanders. 
According to Sarasota Herald-Tribune, “The more likely outcome of the legislation is this: Idiots, emboldened by the notion that they don’t have to take guff from anyone, will shoot first and ask questions later. Innocent victims, and innocent bystanders, will have to fend for themselves.” [Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 4/9/05]

Despite Trayvon Martin Being Killed And George Zimmerman Not Being Convicted, Bush Did Not “Waver In His Support” For Stand Your Ground Legislation. According to the Wall Street Journal, “But Mr. Bush didn’t waver in his support for the underlying legislation. ‘Applied properly, I support the law,’ Mr. Bush said shortly after the incident.” [Wall Street Journal, 4/9/15]

Felon Disenfranchisement

Florida Increasingly Alone In Automatically Denying Felons Right To Vote

2007: Florida One Of Three States To Automatically Deny Ex-Felons Voting Rights. According to USA TODAY,“Florida was one of three U.S. states, along with Kentucky and Virginia, that required ex-felons to take action to restore their civil rights no matter how long they had been out of prison. Other states have waiting periods before restoration, though most restore rights automatically when felons complete their sentence.” [USA TODAY, 4/5/07]

2000: 820,000 Florida Ex-Felons Prohibited From Voting, Including 31 Percent Of All Florida’s Black Men

Sentencing Project: Florida Had 820,000 Felons Who Could Not Vote In 2000. According to The Associated Press State & Local Wire, “The issue of disenfranchisement escalated in Florida after the 2000 presidential election, which was decided by fewer than 600 votes there. With more than 820,000 felons who could not vote as of 2000, according to the Sentencing Project, Florida has the largest disenfranchised population of any state. After the election, ‘whether you were on one side or another, it was pretty eye-opening just how delicate the situation is,’ said Monifa Bandele, field director for Right to Vote, a coalition of national groups.” [Associated Press State & Local Wire, 6/21/05]

Salon, 2000: In Florida, “31 Percent Of All Black Men Cannot Vote Because Of A Ban On Felons.” According to Salon, “In the process, however, the list invariably targets a minority population in Florida, where 31 percent of all black men cannot vote because of a ban on felons. In compiling a list by looking at felons from other states, Florida could, in the process, single out citizens who committed felons in other states but, after serving their time or successfully petitioning the courts, had their voting rights returned to them. According to Florida law, felons can vote once their voting rights have been reinstated.” [Salon,12/4/00]

2004: Appeals Court Ruled Florida Failed To Do Enough To Help Prisoners Regain Voting Rights
2004: Appellate Court Ruled That Florida Corrections Officials “Don’t Do Enough To Help Thousands Of Prisoners Get Their Voting And Other Civil Rights Restored When They’re Released.” According to The Associated Press State & Local Wire, “State corrections officials don’t do enough to help thousands of prisoners get their voting and other civil rights restored when they’re released, an appellate court ruled Wednesday.” [Associated Press State & Local Wire, 7/14/04]

2004: Court Ruled That Florida Department Of Corrections Failed To Follow “State Law Requiring That Prisoners Get A Form To Apply For A Hearing To Get Their Civil Rights Back,” Must “Provide The Forms And Help Prisoners Fill Them Out Before They Leave Prison.” According to The Associated Press State & Local Wire, “The unanimous ruling by the First District Court of Appeal said the Department of Corrections isn’t following a state law requiring that prisoners get a form to apply for a hearing to get their civil rights back. The appeals court said prison officials must provide the forms and help prisoners fill them out before they leave prison.” [Associated Press State & Local Wire, 7/14/04]

2004 Court Ruling Noted That 85 Percent Of Prisoners Not Automatically Granted Hearing To Restore Rights, Forced To “Figure Out How To Get An Application And Fill It Out.” According to The Associated Press State & Local Wire, “Currently, when a prisoner is released, the Department of Corrections sends the prisoner’s information to parole officials. About 15 percent of those felons are now automatically granted a hearing to have their rights restored, something Bush says his critics don’t acknowledge. […] But roughly 85 percent aren’t automatically granted a hearing, and if they want one, they later must figure out how to get an application and fill it out, said Randy Berg, executive director of the Florida Justice Institute in Miami and the lawyer who argued the case for the plaintiffs, the Caucus of Black State Legislators. The court ruled that those 85 percent shouldn’t have to figure out possibly months after leaving prison how to apply for a hearing.” [Associated Press State & Local Wire, 7/14/04]

Published: Jul 31, 2015

Jump to Content