During the 2008 presidential campaign, Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama met with ACORN leaders and reminded them of his history with ACORN and his work in Project Vote!
In 1992, while he was working as a community organizer in Chicago, Obama headed the Chicago operations of Project Vote!, an ACORN effort to register voters nationally.
“I came out of a grass-roots organizing background,” Obama bragged on his campaign website “Fight the Smears,” in a section that apparently has been removed. “That’s what I did for three and a half years before I went to law school. That’s the reason I moved to Chicago to organize.”
Eager to let the ACORN audience know he was one of them, Obama went on to specify: “So this is something that I know personally, the work you do, the importance of it. 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 registrations drive in Illinois, ACORN was smack dab in the middle of it, and we appreciate your work.”
Here, Obama in his own words clearly acknowledged his close association with ACORN, his acceptance of ACORN’s radical methodology and his appreciation for the support of the organization in his run for the presidency.
ACORN also played an instrumental role in urging lenders to extend home mortgages to subprime borrowers, pushing charges against banks in the 1980s that their home lending practices amounted to “red-lining,” in violation of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act, according to a report published by Stan Liebowitz in the New York Post.
In 1994, lawyer Obama, a graduate of Harvard Law School then fresh from his Project Vote! experience, represented ACORN in the Buycks-Roberson v. Citibank Federal Savings Bank case, in which ACORN pressed for Citibank to make more loans to marginally qualified African-American applicants “in a race neutral way.”
After obtaining a settlement in the Citibank litigation, ACORN used its subsidiary organization ACORN Housing, a nationwide organization with offices in more than 30 U.S. cities, to push the group’s radical agenda to get subprime home buyers mortgages under the most favorable terms possible.
The meltdown in subprime home mortgages has been widely regarded as a major contributing cause of the current recession that officially began in December 2008 after two consecutive quarters of negative growth in gross domestic product, or GDP.
During 2008, the Obama presidential campaign attempted to distance the candidate from ACORN voter fraud by arguing that the U.S. Department of Justice was on the same side of the Citibank case as was lawyer Obama, reflecting the Clinton administration’s determination to expand homeownership among the poor.
“Barack Obama strongly condemns voter registration fraud or any other breach of election law by any party or group,” Ben LaBolt, an Obama campaign spokesman, said in a statement,. as reported by the New York Times.
While the Obama administration’s $787 economic stimulus package did not funnel federal funds to ACORN by name, the bill signed by the president included some $2 billion for non-profit “neighborhood stabilization” non-governmental organizations. Some of those funds could be allocated to ACORN to buy abandoned or foreclosed homes in impoverished neighborhoods, with the intent to rehabilitate them for resale or rental.