- The Washington Times - Friday, October 8, 2004

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights voted yesterday to wait until after next month’s election to discuss a report critical of the Bush administration’s civil rights record. Republican members had objected to the report’s timing.

The report remains posted on the commission’s Web site, however, despite objections from GOP commissioners who sought to get it removed.

“I think it’s an unfair report, and I think it’s a politically biased report, and I think its release at this time is politically motivated,” Commissioner Jennifer C. Braceras said after the commission voted to postpone discussion of the report until Nov. 12.

Another Republican commissioner, Abigail Thernstrom, said she was “concerned about issuing a report that looked as if it was driven by an impending election.”

Commission Chairwoman Mary Frances Berry said later that she didn’t mind waiting to discuss the report “since they felt so strongly.” She disputed the contention that the timing had anything to do with the election.

“Everybody has known for months that the staff planned to have this report finished,” she said.

The 180-page report written by commission staff says Mr. Bush “has neither exhibited leadership on pressing civil rights issues, nor taken actions that matched his words” on the subject. Among other criticisms, it finds fault with Mr. Bush’s funding requests for civil rights enforcement agencies; his positions on voting rights, educational opportunity and affirmative action; and his actions against hate crimes.

The report offers some support for Mr. Bush, including citing a commitment to help people with disabilities and “a commendably diverse Cabinet and moderately diverse judiciary.”

“President Bush is fully committed to making a real difference in the lives of all Americans, and his record reflects that goal through accomplishments in education, housing and civil rights,” said White House spokesman Ken Lisaius.

Miss Braceras tried but failed to get the commission to vote to remove the report from its Web site. The vote to delay discussion was 6-1 with one abstention.

Republican commissioners contended that a 2000 report on the Clinton administration’s civil rights record, which called it a promise only partly fulfilled, was not made public until after the election.

Mrs. Berry said the commission’s policy on handling all reports has changed since then so that all reports are now posted directly to the commission’s Web site upon completion.

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