The FBI’s raids of the Nevada offices of ACORN are the latest manifestation in the 10-state official investigation of fraudulent voter registration practices by the “community organizing” outfit. This development could prove embarrassing for the Obama campaign: not only have they paid ACORN $800,000 this election season for their questionable get-out-the-vote services, but Sen. Obama himself has a long history with the group.
This history starts with their recruitment of him in 1992 to run the Chicago branch of their political arm, Vote Smart, and continues with their employment of his wife’s law firm to represent them in an embezzlement case, to his suing the state of Illinois on their behalf to implement their pet “moter voter” law (also a magnet for voter fraud). His association with them culminates in their vocal endorsement of him for president this year, an odd move for an organization that is supposed to be non-partisan.
According to Investors’ Business Daily (via Hot Air), “Obama downplays his ties to ACORN, and his campaign denies coordinating with ACORN to register voters.”
Further details of the FBI probe, ACORN’s checkered past, Obama’s connection to them, and the implications for the McCain campaign below the break.
I should note that the number of states covered by the FBI investigation appears to be unclear: some news accounts mention “at least 10” or “at least 11;” the New York Post puts it as high as 15. However, I’m going to go with the conservative estimate of 10 states as relates to the FBI probe. I’m not sure if there are other entities conducting their own probes; I doubt it’s a stretch of the imagination. See this blog post for a roundup of highlights in five of them.
ACORN’s system of paying its signature collectors a per-signature commission, it’s pretty clear by now, has all the security and fail-safe capacity of a free online personal ad. One particularly egregious example, a 19-year-old serial registrant by the name of Freddie Johnson, says collectors bribed him with cigarettes and small amounts of cash each time he signed a registration card. All told, Johnson ultimately registered 72 times.
ACORN has been racking up quite a roster of suspicious achievements this election season:
- As mentioned above, a Las Vegas office of ACORN was raided by the FBI after submissions of, among other suspect registrations, the names of the starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys (it appears ACORN also employed at least 59 felons in its signature collecting, a legal no-no in Nevada);
- ACORN operations in Indianapolis are coming under scrutiny after the number of registered voters was found to total 105% of its eligible voting population;
- One Miami, FL registrant was found to have signed (or it was made to appear that this voter had signed) 21 different registration cards;
- At least 1,400 registration cards have been called into question in Albuquerque, NM;
- Missouri and Ohio have each found cards with fake signatures and/or addresses numbering into the range of several thousands, and the investigations in those states still have yet to get under way.
This is hardly a recent trend at ACORN. Between 2004 and 2007, the organization amassed a record of indictments and convictions for voter fraud in Ohio, Missouri, Colorado, and Washington State. One account told of a worker at an ACORN affiliate who was “given crack cocaine in exchange for fraudulent registrations that included underage voters, dead voters and voters named Mary Poppins, Dick Tracy and Jive Turkey.”
The McCain campaign has finally released an ad detailing Obama’s relationship to ACORN and why a relationship with ACORN reflects badly on him. The only drawback that puts a damper on this breakthrough? It’s 90 seconds long, which means it’s doomed to Web-only status; there’s no way it will ever reach a wider audience on TV (except in the event that a news outlet decides to make a story of it, in which case only isolated clips will be seen).
McCain will have to try a bit harder to get this particular message out, even if it means releasing it in “installments” as a series of 30-second spots.