FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Obama and the Integrity Gap: ACORN
Chapter four of seven
The left-wing group Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), a national umbrella group of, well, community organizers, sits at the intersection of Obama’s ties to extremists and his ties to machine politics. ACORN is indisputably Sixties-style “New Left” in its orientation, pursuing what Sol Stern describes as an agenda of “undisguised authoritarian socialism.” The group has both money and foot soldiers, as it “uses banking regulations to pressure financial institutions into massive ‘donations’ that it uses to finance supposedly non-partisan voter turn-out drives.” See here for a more thorough description of the mischief ACORN plays in forcing banks to make subprime loans. And:
In one of the first book-length scholarly studies of ACORN, Organizing Urban America, Rutgers University political scientist Heidi Swarts describes this group… as “oppositional outlaws.” Swarts, a strong supporter of ACORN, has no qualms about stating that its members think of themselves as “militants unafraid to confront the powers that be.” “This identity as a uniquely militant organization,” says Swarts, “is reinforced by contentious action.” ACORN protesters will break into private offices, show up at a banker’s home to intimidate his family, or pour protesters into bank lobbies to scare away customers, all in an effort to force a lowering of credit standards for poor and minority customers. According to Swarts, long-term ACORN organizers “tend to see the organization as a solitary vanguard of principled leftists…the only truly radical community organization.”
ACORN’s rap sheet for voter fraud alone is extensive. This is “an organization that has a “decade long history of voter fraud, embezzlement and misuses of taxpayer funds” that Consumer Rights League Chief Public Advocate, James Terry testified about last month to the House Judiciary.” For example: flagrantly fraudulent voter registrations in Nevada; “5,000 ACORN registrants in St. Louis were sent letters by election officials asking the recipient to contact them. Fewer than 40 responded”; “In Kansas City, 15,000 ACORN registrations have been questioned and in November, 4 ACORN employees were indicted for fraud. Additionally ACORN officials have been indicted in Wisconsin and Colorado, and there are on-going investigations in Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.”
Meeting last November with the leaders of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (Acorn) – the nationwide network of left-wing community groups that taps government money for a host of causes – Obama declared: “I’ve been fighting alongside Acorn on issues you care about my entire career,” including representing Acorn in a court case in Illinois. Acorn members apparently reciprocated by working hard to turn out voters for Obama’s Illinois campaigns, according to a 2003 piece in the magazine Social Policy by a Chicago-area Acorn organizer. After the candidate’s November appearance, Acorn’s affiliated political action committee endorsed Obama for president.
What he now admits to is having been their lawyer: “the Obama campaign has sought to distance the Senator from the radical organization, claiming Obama merely represented ACORN in a lawsuit enforcing the Illinois ‘Motor Voter’ law.” *
A sampling of Obama’s ties to ACORN, and specifically to the aspect of ACORN – its voter registration drives – that are at the heart of its criminal activity:
Obama trained ACORN activists. A 1995 Chicago Reader article on Obama stated “Obama continues his work largely through classes for future leaders identified by ACORN and the Centers for New Horizons.” Obama also ran Project Vote, known for widespread voter fraud, which Time magazine called “a non-partisan arm” of ACORN.
During the Democrat primary, the Obama campaign paid Citizen Services Inc., a subsidiary of ACORN, more than $800,000.
A payment that Obama’s campaign somehow managed to misreport to the FEC. Obama’s “Fight the Smears” website likewise falsely denied his role in training ACORN activists until confronted by evidence contradicting his denials.
In 1992 Obama took time off to direct Project Vote, the most successful grass-roots voter- registration campaign in recent city history. Credited with helping elect Carol Moseley-Braun to the U.S. Senate, the registration drive, aimed primarily at African-Americans, added an estimated 125,000 voters to the voter rolls
Conveniently enough, it appears that at one point, ACORN, Project Vote, and the New Party all listed as headquarters the same address in Brooklyn. Obama is, of course, ACORN’s favorite politician:
[ACORN] Founder Toni Foulkes enthusiastically backed Obama’s U.S. Senate run in 2004, declaring: “ACORN is active in experimenting with methods of increasing voter participation in our low and moderate income communities to virtually every election. But in some elections we get to have our cake and eat it too: work on nonpartisan voter registration and GOTV, which also turns out to benefit the candidate we hold dear [Obama].”
Foulkes claims that Acorn specifically sought out Obama’s representation in the motor voter case, remembering Obama from the days when he worked with [former Chicago ACORN leader] Talbot. And while many reports speak of Obama’s post-law school role organizing “Project VOTE” in 1992, Foulkes makes it clear that this project was undertaken in direct partnership with Acorn. Foulkes then stresses Obama’s yearly service as a key figure in Acorn’s leadership-training seminars.At least a few news reports have briefly mentioned Obama’s role in training Acorn’s leaders, but none that I know of have said what Foulkes reports next: that Obama’s long service with Acorn led many members to serve as the volunteer shock troops of Obama’s early political campaigns – his initial 1996 State Senate campaign, and his failed bid for Congress in 2000… With Obama having personally helped train a new cadre of Chicago Acorn leaders, by the time of Obama’s 2004 U.S. Senate campaign, Obama and Acorn were “old friends,” says Foulkes.
And like Ayers – and sometimes through Ayers – ACORN was a recipient of money from Obama’s tenure as a director of the charitable Woods Fund:
Chicago ACORN Received Grants Of $45,000 (2000), $30,000 (2001), $45,000 (2001), $30,000 (2002), And $40,000 (2002) From The Woods Fund.