Government watchdog group Common Cause has rescinded an award scheduled to be presented tonight to Arnold Schwarzenegger following an outcry over past sexual harassment allegations made against him.
The group was scheduled to honor the former California governor with the “We the People Award” for his work on gerrymandering reform at the awards dinner at LA’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
In a statement, the organization said “former Governor Schwarzenegger does not want to be a distraction to the ongoing important democracy work of Common Cause,” adding he would not be attending tonight’s event and the organization would not be giving him the award.
Activists organized a MoveOn.org petition urging Common Cause to rescind the honor, describing Schwarzenegger as a “serial harasser.” The petition read in part, “By honoring Arnold Common Cause is enabling harassers and silencing victims. Common Cause should instead help shed light on the widespread problem of sexual harassment.”
In 2003, shortly before he was elected California governor, six women told the Los Angeles Times Schwarzenegger had groped and humiliated on film sets, in studio offices and elsewhere since the 1970s. Schwarzeneger denied the reports, but said he had sometimes “behaved badly” on film sets. In 2011, it was reported and Schwarzenegger confirmed he had fathered a child with his housekeeper.
Here’s the statement released by Common Cause:
The #metoo movement is a critically important cultural moment for our country, and one we embrace. We at Common Cause believe that sexual harassment and violence is unacceptable and support courageous women and men who are raising their voices and telling their stories, especially when doing so can be and usually is difficult and painful.
More than a year ago, we decided to recognize Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at our Spotlight on California awards for over a decade’s worth of work on ensuring a fair and honest democracy. When few others would, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger joined us in the fight against partisan gerrymandering, whether by Republicans or Democrats, in California and nationally.
In this moment, former Governor Schwarzenegger does not want to be a distraction to the ongoing important democracy work of Common Cause. He will not be attending our awards event. We will not be giving an award to former Governor Schwarzenegger.
We are excited to move forward with honoring the California Citizens Redistricting Commission, Senator Ben Allen, and Secretary of State Alex Padilla for their work to reform redistricting, take money out of politics, and build a more inclusive democracy.