ACORN (photo: Dickinson College)
FBI investigation notes reveal ACORN was working for the Democratic Party and told employees not to talk to the FBI, to cause confusion on Election Day and to go “poverty pimpin’” for votes.
Judicial Watch, a corruption-fighting legal group, obtained the notes related to the 2007 investigation and arrest of eight St. Louis, Mo., ACORN workers for violating election laws and committing voter fraud.
‘Poverty pimpin,’ fraud and work for Democratic Party
The FBI investigators interviewed ACORN canvassers working with Project Vote, an ACORN affiliate. Among the documents obtained by Judicial Watch were handwritten notes by FBI officials outlining the group’s fraudulent activities. The following are some highlights from the FBI notes:
- ACORN “told employees not to talk to the FBI,” saying the FBI is “trying to intimidate you.” Staff members were restricted on what they were allowed to say to the FBI.
- ACORN accepted “fraudulent cards” “to cause confusion on Election Day to keep polls open longer,” “to allow people who can’t vote to vote” and “to allow voters to vote multiple times.”
- “Project Vote will pay them whether cards fake or not – whatever they had to do to get the cards was attitude.”
- The FBI investigators noted that workers were constantly threatened.
- The FBI noted that ACORN had been “poverty pimpin.’”
- The notes stated that ACORN headquarters was “working for the Democratic Party.”
- Project Vote “pays ACORN $6 per card” and said “you treat the cards like (cash)$.”
- Some registrant names were collected from the phone book and workers made up the rest.
- Canvassers were often homeless, volatile, drug users, drunks, etc.
- “Anyone who was against PV (Project Vote) or ACORN’s goals was ‘right wing.’”
- Canvasser “thought if she used a completely fake name it would be less like ID theft.” She said, “Yeah, it’s against the law, I know,” but “the fake cards would get her paid.”
The FBI documents also include arrest warrants, criminal case cover sheets and court documents. Eight ACORN workers pleaded guilty to registration fraud just months before the 2008 election.
As WND reported, Judicial Watch also obtained another set of FBI documents in March 2010 detailing alleged ACORN corruption and voter registration fraud in Connecticut – but the Obama administration shut down the FBI and Department of Justice investigations in March 2009. While the administration noted ACORN had engaged in “questionable hiring and training practices,” it said the group broke no laws.
But the FBI documents showed complaints filed in October 2008 by Lucy Corelli and Joseph Borges, Republican registrars of voters in Stamford and Bridgeport, Conn., respectively, during the 2008 election year.
Corelli reported that on Aug. 1, 2008, her office accessed 1,200 ACORN voter-registration cards from the secretary of state’s office – of which, 300 cards were rejected due to “duplicates, underage, illegible and invalid addresses.” She said the invalid cards “put a tremendous strain on our office staff and caused endless work hours at taxpayers’ expense.” Judicial Watch reported Corelli claimed the additional work caused by ACORN corruption cost $20,000.
According to the documents, Borges stated, “The organization ACORN during the summer of 2008 conducted a registration drive which has produced over 100 rejections due to incomplete forms and individuals who are not citizens. …”
Borges reported ACORN even registered a 7-year-old child to vote by using a forged signature and fake birth certificate claiming she was 27 years old.
Obama’s twisted ACORN roots
ACORN first noticed Obama in the 1990s when he was organizing on the far south side of Chicago with the Developing Communities Project. Madeline Talbott, who at the time was a leader at Chicago ACORN, was thoroughly impressed with Obama because “he got people to vote with their feet,” so she invited him to help train her staff.
As WND reported, 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. In Chicago, Obama had his biggest impact registering African-American voters on the city’s South Side.
After completing his legal education at Harvard in 1991, Obama reportedly conducted leadership-training seminars for ACORN’s up-and-coming organizers.
In 1993, Obama joined the board of the Woods Foundation, a non-profit foundation that declares its goal to “increase opportunities for less advantaged people and communities by giving money primarily to not-for-profit groups involved in housing, the arts and other areas.” Obama served along with William Ayers and remained on the board until 2002.
Pajamas Media reported that during Obama’s time there, ACORN received grants of $45,000 (2000), $30,000 (2001), $45,000 (2001), $30,000 (2002) and $40,000 (2002) from the Woods Foundation.
As WND reported, in 1994, 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.”
In 1995, Obama was hired as a lawyer for ACORN in a major lawsuit. As a lawyer with civil-rights law firm Davis Miner Barnhill & Galland, he sued the state of Illinois on behalf of ACORN to implement the federal “motor voter” law.
More ACORN ties
Also in 1995, as WND’s Jerome Corsi reported, Ayers co-founded the Chicago Annenberg Challenge with a $50 million grant program for the Chicago public schools. Ayers selected Obama to be the first chairman of the board of the Annenberg Challenge, a position Obama held for eight years, until 2003, a period during which Ayers remained active with the Challenge.
In a Wall Street Journal article, Stanley Kurtz wrote that the Annenberg project funneled money through various far-left community organizers, including ACORN.
Barack Obama pictured in New Party publication (Courtesy New Zeal blog)
As WND reported, newspaper evidence shows Obama was a member of the New Party, which sought to elect members to public office with the aim of moving the Democratic Party far leftward to ultimately form a new political party with a socialist agenda. While running for the Illinois state Senate in 1996 as a Democrat, Obama actively sought and received the endorsement of the New Party, according to confirmed reports during the 2008 presidential campaign.
According to Democratic Socialists of America documents, the New Party worked with ACORN to promote its candidates.
In 1997, Obama became an Illinois state senator. ACORN national board member Toni Foulkes bragged of ACORN’s long-standing relationship with Obama prior to his election in the 2003-2004 issue of Social Policy.
On Obama’s Organizing for America blog, Sam Graham-Felsen, a paid blogger, wrote about Obama’s November 2007 speech to ACORN leaders:
When Obama met with ACORN leaders in November, he reminded them of his history with ACORN and his beginnings in Illinois as a Project Vote organizer, a nonprofit focused on voter rights and education. Senator Obama said, “I come out of a grass-roots organizing background. That’s what I did for three and half years before I went to law school. That’s the reason I moved to Chicago, was to organize. 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 registration drive in Illinois, ACORN was smack dab in the middle of it, and we appreciate your work.”
Again, on Dec. 1, 2007, Obama spoke at the Heartland Democratic Presidential Forum, a meeting for community organizing groups including ACORN. Obama received wild applause from the crowd as he promised that community organizing groups such as ACORN would help shape the agenda for his presidency.
On Feb. 21, 2008, the ACORN Political Action Committee endorsed Obama over Hillary Clinton during the 2008 primaries.
During the presidential campaign, Obama and his running mate, Joe Biden, insisted they had nothing to do with ACORN after the inner-city advocacy group became engulfed in controversy over voter-registration fraud.
But in August 2008, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported the Obama campaign paid $832,598.29 to ACORN “offshoot” Citizens Services Inc. for “get out the vote” projects from Feb. 25 to May 17.
The newspaper revealed Obama’s payments to CSI for services were unusual: “For example, CSI received payments of $63,000 and $75,000 for advance work. Excluding the large payments to CSI, the average amount the Obama campaign spent with other organizations was $558.82 per check on more than 1,200 entries classified as advance work.”
According to the report, Citizens Services Inc. is headquartered at the same address as ACORN’s national headquarters in New Orleans. A 2006 ACORN publication describes Citizen Services Inc. as “ACORN’s campaign services entity.”
In 2008, Obama, at the time a candidate for the Democratic nomination, told ACORN “you have a friend in me.”
“You know what, you’ve got a friend in me,” he said. “And I definitely welcome ACORN’s input. You don’t have to ask me about that, I’m going to call you, even if you, if you didn’t ask me.”
Also in 2008, Anita MonCrief, a woman who worked in the Strategic Writing and Research Department of ACORN Political Operations and its affiliate Project Vote from 2005 through January 2008, told a Pennsylvania court before the election that the Obama camp provided ACORN with a “donor list” that enabled Project Vote to solicit contributions from Obama supporters who had “maxed out” under federal contribution limits but who could surreptitiously give more to Obama’s cause by donating to ACORN and its affiliates.
‘Need for criminal investigation’
Obama has tried to publicly disassociate himself from the group.
“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 in a presidential debate.
“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,” he declared. “We were not involved.”
Last December, House Republicans accused the Obama administration of concealing ACORN’s criminal activities, saying Obama has used the organization as a political device to help himself and other Democrats win the election.
“The current administration is fast becoming, in reality, the war room of ACORN’s political machine,” Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., told the Washington Times. “I am concerned that the era of corruption promulgated by ACORN and protected by the White House is just the beginning.”
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement that the FBI documents his organization has uncovered “show the need for a national criminal investigation by the Obama Justice Department into ACORN.”
“Is Attorney General Holder doing nothing because of Obama’s close connections to ACORN and Project Vote?” he asked. “The information in these new documents has national implications that cry out for further investigation.”