Posted on September 20, 2004

Some Prop. 200 Leaders Seek Boycott Of Firms Funding Its Opposition

Howard Fischer, AZ Daily Star, Sept. 16

Some of the leaders of a group supporting Proposition 200 want Arizonans to boycott the businesses that are financing the opposition.

Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, said major corporations in the state don’t want the initiative to pass because they benefit from the cheap labor from those who cross the border illegally.

“They’re basing their decisions on dollars,” Pearce said. “We have to base our decisions on dollars.”

Rep. Randy Graf, R-Green Valley, said a boycott would get the attention of companies he said are ignoring the will of most Arizonans who want the measure to pass. Several polls have shown supporters outnumbering foes by 3-1 or more.

Pearce particularly singled out Bank One, which has committed to helping to finance the anti-200 campaign.

“I wonder why they would be so concerned that we not enforce the laws in the state of Arizona?” Pearce said. “There ought to be a boycott for folks that are continuing to thumb their nose at the laws of the state of Arizona and to fund groups that don’t respect the taxpayer.”

Bank One Arizona has not taken a formal position on Proposition 200, said its publicist, Mary Jane Rogers.

But Rogers said the bank is “financially supporting the Arizona Chamber of Commerce effort to educate people on this issue.” And that campaign, said chamber spokesman Farrell Quinlan, is to kill the initiative.

It is unfair to single out Bank One, Quinlan said. He said the company is simply supporting his organization’s position that Proposition 200 would be bad for Arizona.

The bank got special attention because Ruben Ramos, a Bank One vice president, was one of the speakers at a press conference two weeks ago explaining the campaign to defeat the initiative. Quinlan said Ramos was chosen because he chairs the chamber’s committee studying immigration issues.

Pearce said the boycott should extend to other businesses that work to defeat the initiative. But he conceded that identifying them could prove difficult: The businesses are not making their donations directly to the anti-200 group but instead to the chamber, which, in turn, will help finance the opposition media campaign.

State law requires public disclosure only of what the chamber itself gives to the anti-200 campaign; Quinlan will disclose neither contributors nor the amounts they have given.

That confidentiality is one reason businesses are giving to the chamber, Quinlan said. He said that is meant to protect those businesses from boycotts or other types of civil disobedience.

“I don’t think it’s laundering” the contributions, he said. “It’s a normal business practice.”

Quinlan said the chamber and its members are against Proposition 200 because they believe its wording is so broad that all Arizonans would be required to have proof of legal residence to get any government services, and not just welfare, as the initiative’s authors say.

He said the chamber also believes passage would divert attention from the real need for changes in immigration law at the federal level.