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Sen. Barack Obama at last night’s presidential debate at Hofstra University in New York.

JERUSALEM – In the third and final presidential debate, Sen. Barack Obama lied last night about the extent of his relationship with a radical leftist organization that has admitted to major financial improprieties and has been convicted in numerous, massive voter fraud scandals.

It was the second time in a week the presidential candidate or his campaign misled the public regarding his ties to ACORN, or the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

“The only involvement I’ve had with ACORN was I represented them alongside the U.S. Justice Department in making Illinois implement a motor voter law that helped people get registered at DMVs,” Obama declared at last night’s debate in response to a statement from Sen. John McCain.

“Now, with respect to ACORN, ACORN is a community organization. Apparently what they’ve done is they were paying people to go out and register folks, and apparently some of the people who were out there didn’t really register people, they just filled out a bunch of names,” Obama said.

“It had nothing to do with us. We were not involved,” he declared.

Obama was responding to McCain’s insistence that the Illinois senator is linked to ACORN:

“We need to know the full extent of Senator Obama’s relationship with ACORN, who is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy. The same front outfit organization that your campaign gave $832,000 for ‘lighting and site selection.’ So all of these things need to be examined, of course.”

McCain referenced a payment originally reported by WND in August when it was first revealed that Obama’s campaign paid more than $800,000 in services to Citizen Services Inc., a nonprofit organization that is an offshoot of ACORN.

Obama’s claim last night that his only involvement with Acorn was his representation of the organization in a lawsuit is inaccurate. The 1995 suit on behalf of ACORN, in which the state of Illinois was compelled to implement the federal “motor-voter” bill, was just a sampling of Obama’s association.

ACORN is very active in Obama’s native Chicago, where in 1997, some 200 members attempted to storm a City Hall meeting, resulting in six members being arrested, including Madeleine Talbot, ACORN’s Chicago director.

In the early 1990s, Talbot invited Obama to help train ACORN activists.

While Obama served on the board of the Woods Fund, a Chicago nonprofit, it channeled millions of dollars to ACORN and affiliated groups.

Obama was a director of the Woods Fund board from 1999 to Dec. 11, 2002, according to the Fund’s website. According to tax filings, Obama received compensation of $6,000 per year for his service in 1999 and 2000.

He served on the Fund alongside William C. Ayers, an unrepentant member of the Weathermen terrorist group which sought to overthrow the U.S. government and took responsibility for bombing the U.S. Capitol in 1971.

Obama actively sought and received the endorsement by ACORN for his local campaigns.

In the Social Policy Journal, Toni Foulkes, a Chicago ACORN leader, documents what he terms Obama’s “long service” with ACORN, which he said led many of the organization’s members to help in voter campaigns for Obama’s early Chicago campaigns.

Foulkes said Obama and ACORN were “old friends.”

In 1992, Obama was director of Project Vote in Chicago, which helped register 150,000 voters on the city’s South Side. Obama’s successful work was credited in multiple media reports with helping to elect Democratic Sen. Carol Moseley Braun.

Obama’s campaign last week falsely claimed ACORN was “not part of” Project Vote, but the organization’s incorporation papers, obtained by WND, show Project Vote is a trademark name whose parent company is registered at the same New Orleans address in which ACORN and multiple ACORN affiliates are housed.

Obama himself previously connected Project Vote to ACORN.

“I’ve been fighting alongside ACORN on issues you care about my entire career. Even before I was an elected official, when I ran Project Vote voter registration drives in Illinois, ACORN was smack dab in the middle of it, and we appreciate your work,” Obama was quoted on his own campaign website as saying at an ACORN meeting, according to a post by official Obama website blogger Sam Graham-Felsen.

Clarifying the role of ACORN in Project Vote, Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt told the New York Times last weekend Project Vote and ACORN were not as intertwined in 1992 as they are today, as a significant part of Project Vote’s revenues flow to ACORN and various affiliates as payment for services.

But LaBolt’s statement, which admits Project Vote and ACORN were intertwined on some level while Obama was director, directly contradicts the Obama campaign’s “Fact Check” claim that ACORN was “not part” of Project Vote.

In a misleading statement, Obama’s campaign website claims “ACORN never hired Obama as a trainer, organizer, or any type of employee,” but it fails to mention Obama was an unpaid ACORN trainer, as WND first reported in August.

Lewis Goldberg, a spokesman for ACORN, confirmed Obama conducted two hour-long leadership training sessions for his organization in the late 1990s and said Obama was not paid for the work.

Obama actively sought and received the endorsement by ACORN for his local campaigns.

Obama, Acorn ‘old friends’

In the Social Policy Journal, Toni Foulkes, a Chicago ACORN leader, documents what he terms Obama’s “long service” with ACORN, which he said led many of the organization’s members to help in voter campaigns for Obama’s early Chicago campaigns.

Foulkes said Obama and ACORN were “old friends.”

As a state senator, Obama touted many of ACORN’s lines.

National Review Online writer Stanley Kurtz, who conducted a thorough review of ACORN, wrote, “Sure enough, a bit of digging into Obama’s years in the Illinois State Senate indicates strong concern with Acorn’s signature issues, as well as meetings with Acorn and the introduction by Obama of Acorn-friendly legislation on the living wage and banking practices.”

ACORN endorsed Obama’s presidential campaign, which is touted on Obama’s official website.

“What it came down to was that Senator Obama is the candidate who best understands and can affect change on the issues ACORN cares about like stopping foreclosures, enacting fair and comprehensive immigration reform, and building stronger and safer communities across America,” said ACORN’s Maude Hurd of the group’s Obama endorsement.

Campaign pays ACORN affiliate

WND reported in August Obama’s campaign paid more than $800,000 in services to Citizen Services Inc., or CSI, which, as McCain mentioned last night, is a nonprofit offshoot of ACORN.

According to Federal Election Commission records reviewed by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Obama campaign paid CSI $832,598.29 from Feb. 25 to May 17, including $564,342.21 for “stage, lighting and sound.” The payments stood out since CSI does not offer services for stage, lighting or sound.

The Obama campaign amended the FEC reports in August and September to claim the payments to CSI were for get-out-the-vote efforts.

McCain spokesman Rick Davis last week charged the original FEC filing was an effort to “hide the fact” money was paid to ACORN, while FEC officials told media amended filings are common in major campaigns, including for large sums of money.

Election integrity in doubt

Last Friday former state Supreme Court Justice Sandra Newman, a Republican, said at a news conference she had no confidence in the integrity of the electoral process in Pennsylvania as a result of what she termed the extensive voter registration effort by ACORN.

“[There is] potential of massive voter fraud. … I am not confident we can get a fair election” on Nov. 4, said Newman, who retired from the court in 2006.

ACORN and other groups reportedly submitted 252,595 voter registrations in Philadelphia, of which 57,435 were rejected, most of them submitted by ACORN. Officials said the registrations had faulty Social Security numbers, incorrect dates of birth, “clearly fraudulent” signatures, addresses that did not exist and duplicate registrations.

Other key areas in PA had similar problems, Newman said.

A CBS news investigation showed similar problems across the nation.

The news organization said it talked to nearly two dozen ACORN workers who all said they were pressured to increase their number of registration cards to the point of copying names out of phone books, signing up inmates and registering the dead.

“Whether simple error or outright fraud, the charges surrounding ACORN are already raising doubts about the integrity of the upcoming election in key parts of the country,” the CBS investigation concluded.

History of fraud

Last July, ACORN settled what was described by the Washington secretary of state as the “largest case of voter fraud in the state’s history.” Government prosecutors had filed felony charges against seven ACORN workers, who ended up receiving jail time.

Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Stephen Hobbs said in the case the workers had admitted filling out registration forms with names they found in phone books. The ACORN canvassers filled out the forms while sitting around a table at the downtown Seattle Public Library, Hobbs said.

ACORN was also investigated in 2006 for submitting false voter registrations in St. Louis. Nearly 1,500 fraudulent voter registrations were identified in the case, which was tied to at least one campaign, that of Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. Four ACORN workers were indicted in the case.

Also in 2006, four part-time ACORN employees were indicted in Kansas City, Mo., for voter-registration fraud after being caught, fired and turned in by ACORN.

In January 2005, two Colorado ACORN workers were sentenced to community service for submitting false voter registrations.

In Ohio in 2004, four ACORN employees were indicted by a federal grand jury for submitting false voter-registration forms.

ACORN has been accused in a number of other voter fraud cases in other states. Some investigations are still pending.

Financial improprieties

The New York Times last month quoted ACORN officials admitting Dale Rathke, brother of ACORN founder Wade Rathke, embezzled nearly $1 million from ACORN and affiliated charitable organizations in 1999 and 2000. A small group of executives decided to keep the information from almost all of the group’s board members and not to alert law enforcement, the Times reported.

ACORN is organized into more than 850 neighborhood chapters in over 100 cities across the U.S., as well as in Argentina, Canada, Mexico and Peru. The organization was born out of the American civil rights movement of the 1960s.

ACORN strongly lobbies for gun control, leftist education policies and the regulation of banks, targeting the lending practices of major financial institutions it sees as “predatory.” It has a strong anti-capitalism agenda.

National Review Online writer Kurtz wrote the organization’s primary goals are “municipal ‘living wage’ laws targeting ‘big-box’ stores like Wal-Mart, rolling back welfare reform and regulating banks – efforts styled as combating ‘predatory lending.’”

Sol Stern of the City Journal, who also wrote an extensive piece on ACORN, stated the group’s “radical agenda” occasionally broke through to “undisguised authoritarian socialism.”

He wrote ACORN works to drive big businesses out of cities and force companies that want to move to obtain “exit visas.”

Intrusive, radical tactics

ACORN protests have turned violent, at times as soon as the rallies began. Some protests disrupted Federal Reserve hearings and busted into closed city council meetings.

Stern noted that in 2003, Baltimore ACORN underlings piled garbage in front of City Hall to protest lack of services in poor neighborhoods, wielded huge inflated rubber sharks to disrupt a bankers’ dinner and even staged a profanity-laced protest in front of the home of the city’s mayor, Martin O’Malley.

“They unloaded a busload of people shouting pretty ugly things and scared the daylights out of my wife and kids,” O’Malley told the Baltimore Sun. “I thought it was a pretty cruddy thing to do.”

 

 


To interview Aaron Klein, contact M. Sliwa Public Relations by e-mail, or call 973-272-2861 or
212-202-4453.

 


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