No news conference or news release trumpeted Romney's executive order on Bunker Hill Day, June 17, 2003, in the deserted Statehouse. But when civil rights leaders, black lawmakers and other minority groups learned of Romney's move two months later, it sparked a public furor.
Romney drew criticism for cutting the enforcement teeth out of the law and rolling back more than two decades of affirmative action advances.
Civil rights leaders said his order stripped minorities, women, disabled people and veterans of equal access protections for state government jobs and replaced them with broad guidelines. They complained Romney hadn't consulted them before making the changes, snubbing the very kind of inclusion he professed to support.
Romney responded by creating an advisory panel to recommend changes. But he eventually retreated completely, leaving the state's old policies in place.