Members of ColorOfChange.org, the nation's largest online African American advocacy group, are scheduled to flood South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford's office with phone calls today demanding that he accept the full amount of federal stimulus funds intended to buoy his struggling state's economy.
The effort is set to launch just days after Sanford announced he may refuse nearly a quarter of the stimulus dollars, including those targeted for education, unemployment benefits and other social programs. The group said it expected to tie up the lines at Sanford's office throughout the day with hundreds of calls to drive home the importance of putting economic recovery -- in South Carolina and throughout the country -- before political posturing.
Villagers know my perspective on Sanford. I think he has 'mad cow disease'.
The callers are among more than 28,000 ColorOfChange.org members who recently signed an open letter to Sanford and five other Republican governors who have threatened to reject federal stimulus funds. The letter urges them to put their constituents' well-being ahead of their desire to build their own national profiles within the Republican party.
Sanford, chair of the Republican Governors Association, has said he would accept a portion of the stimulus funds only if he can use it to pay down debt, a position that ColorOfChange.org Executive Director James Rucker called indefensible.
"As people in South Carolina struggle with this recession, Governor Sanford has decided to stand in the way of the help," said Rucker. "It's obvious even to Republicans in South Carolina that this has nothing to do with what's best for the state -- it's all about scoring political points."The group noted that Black South Carolinians, nearly a third of the state's population, will be hit particularly hard by Sanford's decision to reject stimulus funds. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that Blacks in that state are twice as likely as whites to be unemployed. The state's jobless rate, at 10.4%, is second highest in the country.
"Schools in South Carolina can’t afford for thousands of teachers to lose their jobs, and neither can America’s economy," Rucker continued. "But it seems like Governor Sanford thinks that currying favor with the far right of his political party is more important than stopping the economic bleeding."