Arnold Schwarzenegger will not appear at an awards dinner for California Common Cause Friday night, after a group of activists threatened to stage a protest calling attention to his history of sexual harassment allegations.
The good-government group originally planned to present Schwarzenegger with the “We the People Award” for his work on gerrymandering reform at the dinner at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Daniel Ketchell, a spokesman for the former governor, said Thursday that Schwarzenegger was unable to attend, but believed Common Cause was still giving him the award.
But Karen Pomer, one of the organizers of the protest, said that Common Cause assured her that Schwarzenegger would not receive the honor.
“Effectively, they rescinded the honor,” Pomer said. “They asked him not to attend.”
Kathay Feng, the executive director of California Common Cause, did not return several messages seeking comment.
As governor, Schwarzenegger backed the 2008 and 2010 ballot initiatives that took redistricting away from the state Legislature and put it in the hands of an independent commission. Common Cause has long worked closely with Schwarzenegger on that issue across the country. In October, Schwarzenegger spoke at a Common Cause rally outside the Supreme Court in opposition to partisan gerrymandering in Wisconsin.
The group originally announced that Schwarzenegger would be honored alongside the members of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission. Stan Forbes, the chair of the commission, said he still planned to attend and had “no idea” whether Schwarzenegger’s honor was being rescinded. Representatives for state Sen. Ben Allen and Alex Padilla, the California secretary of state, confirmed that they both will attend and collect awards for their work on voting issues.
Schwarzenegger’s history of alleged harassment has largely escaped reexamination in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. But in recent days, activists organized a petition urging Common Cause to rescind the honor, describing Schwarzenegger as a “serial harasser.”
“No one should attend this event unless Common Cause supports victims, not perpetrators, of sexual harassment by rescinding Arnold’s invitation,” the petition stated.
The issue is a delicate one for Common Cause, as Schwarzenegger, a Republican, provides a bipartisan cast to its voting reform efforts.