Subject: Why Isn't Anyone Really Investigating ACORN?

Why Isn’t Anyone Really Investigating ACORN?

by Chris Berg

As we rapidly approach December 18th, the day when ACORN is again eligible to receive federal funds, we still have yet to see a meaningful investigation of ACORN.


Last week,  the Inspector General of the Department of Justice released a “Review of Department of Justice Grants to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, Inc. (ACORN) and its Affiliated Organizations.”  Unsurprisingly this report “did not find any DOJ direct grants to ACORN.”  The report did however reveal approximately $200,000 in sub-grants to ACORN affiliates.  This number pales in comparison to the amount of federal money ACORN and its affiliates have received from other agencies.

ACORN and its affiliates have received over $54 million in federal grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  These are the grants that the government should be investigating.  How did ACORN spend these federal tax dollars?  Were they used for their designated purposes?  Does ACORN owe the federal government a refund?

The Department of Justice should have answered calls to investigate ACORN’s criminal and fraudulent activity.  The evidence continues to mount, and the Department of Justice continues to look the other way.

Last week Representative Vernon Ehlers, along with Reps. Mary Bono and Connie Mack, introduced House Resolution 911, a resolution “Requesting the Attorney General to appoint a special counsel to investigate allegations regarding the organization ACORN.”  The resolution calls on Attorney General Holder to appoint a special counsel because:

“Whereas there has not been a cohesive approach to investigating these allegations;

“Whereas a special counsel should be appointed to investigate, in a cohesive manner, the allegations that Federal monies are possibly being used illegally by ACORN or any of its affiliates, both formal and informal, including all subsidiaries and entities controlled by ACORN;

“Whereas a special counsel should also investigate ACORN’s relationship with all allied organizations and any individual or organization that has been complicit in the criminal activity of ACORN and its employees;”

Representative Ehlers is right; it’s time that the Obama administration takes a serious look into ACORN and the mounting evidence of its wrongdoing.  Sadly, the failure to investigate ACORN has not been limited to the Obama Administration.

Representatives John Conyers and Jerry Nadler have failed to launch Congressional hearings into ACORN.  Conyers has noted that “the powers that be” won’t allow them.

Even ACORN’s “internal investigation” has yet to yield any results.  When ACORN’s “Independent” Advisory Council appointed former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger to conduct an internal review he promised preliminary findings by the end of October.  As we near the end of November ACORN has yet to publically release any information regarding Harshbarger’s findings, yet this has not stopped them from carrying on their business as usual.  Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA) Chairman David A. Norcross has called on ACORN “to announce their findings and produce meaningful answers into the issues raised by the ACORN 8, speak to the consequences of the Rathke embezzlement, including its cover up, and address the money laundering that has taken place at its affiliates.”

Rather than addressing the many flaws of the organization, ACORN is instead choosing to attack those who dared to expose them.  Hannah Giles, James O’Keefe, and Andrew Breitbart have been sued for exposing ACORN employees counseling individuals on how to evade IRS regulations and engage in criminal activity.  ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief has also been sued by ACORN.  They haven’t stopped there.  ACORN has sued the Pennsylvania Attorney General in an attempt to justify and defend its criminal activity, and most recently ACORN has sued the federal government demanding access to federal funds.  ACORN should address its systemic internal problems before attempting to blame and punish others.

While it is comforting that the Department of Justice has not made any “direct grants” to ACORN, it’s time that Justice mounts a real investigation of this troubled organization.

Acorn Charges (Known Recent Fraud)

-1998 A contractor with ACORN-affiliated Project Vote was arrested for falsifying about 400 voter registration cards.

-2005 Two ex-ACORN employees were convicted in Denver of perjury for submitting false voter registrations.

-2004 An ACORN employee admitted to forging signatures and registering three of her friends to vote 40 times.

-2008 The New York Post reported that ACORN submitted a voter registration card for a 7-year- old Bridgeport girl. Another 8,000 cards from the same city will be scrutinized for possible fraud.

-2009 In September, 11 ACORN workers were accused of forging voter registration applications in Miami-Dade County during the last election. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the state attorney's office scoured hundreds of suspicious applications provided by ACORN and found 197 of 260 contained personal ID information that did not match any living person.

-2008 Election officials in Brevard County have given prosecutors more than 23 suspect registrations from ACORN. The state's Division of Elections is also investigating complaints in Orange and Broward Counties.

-2004 A Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokesman said ACORN was "singled out" among suspected voter registration groups for a 2004 wage initiative because it was "the common thread" in the agency's fraud investigations.

-2008 Election officials in Indiana have thrown out more than 4,000 ACORN-submitted voter registrations after finding they had identical handwriting and included the names of many deceased Indianans, and even the name of a fast food restaurant.

-2008 Clerks in Detroit found a "sizeable number of duplicate and fraudulent [voter] applications" from the Michigan branch of ACORN. Those applications have been turned over to the U.S. Attorney's office for investigation.

-2004 The Detroit Free Press reported that "overzealous or unscrupulous campaign workers in several Michigan counties are under investigation for voter-registration fraud, suspected of attempting to register nonexistent people or forging applications for already-registered voters." ACORN-affiliate Project Vote was one of two groups suspected of turning in the documents.

-2008 Nearly 400 ACORN-submitted registrations in Kansas City have been rejected due to duplication or fake information.

-2007 Four ACORN employees were indicted in Kansas City for charges including identity theft and filing false registrations during the 2006 election.

-2006 Eight ACORN employees in St. Louis were indicted on federal election fraud charges. Each of the eight faces up to five years in prison for forging signatures and submitting false information.

-2003 Of 5,379 voter registration cards ACORN submitted in St. Louis, only 2,013 of those appeared to be valid. At least 1,000 are believed to be attempts to register voters illegally.

-2004 During a traffic stop, police found more than 300 voter registration cards in the trunk of a former ACORN employee, who had violated a legal requirements that registration cards be submitted to the Secretary of State within 10 days of being filled out and signed.

-2008 County elections officials have sent suspicious voter registration applications to the state Board of Elections. Many of the applications had similar or identical names, but with different addresses or dates of birth.

-2004 North Carolina officials investigated ACORN for submitting fake voter registration cards.

-2008 Prosecutors are investigating more than 1,100 ACORN-submitted voter registration cards after a county clerk found them to be fraudulent. Many of the cards included duplicate names and slightly altered personal information.

-2005 Four ACORN employees submitted as many as 3,000 potentially fraudulent signatures on the group's Albuquerque ballot initiative. A local sheriff added: "It's safe to say the forgery was widespread."

-2004 An ACORN employee registered a 13-year-old boy to vote. Citing this and other examples, New Mexico State Representative Joe Thompson stated that ACORN was "manufacturing voters" throughout New Mexico.

-2009 Nevada authorities indicted ACORN on 26 counts of voter registration fraud and 13 counts of illegally compensating canvassers. ACORN provided a bonus compensation program called "Blackjack" or "21+" for any canvasser who registered more than 20 voters per shift, which is illegal under Nevada law.

-2008 Nevada state authorities raided ACORN's Las Vegas headquarters as part of a task force investigation of election fraud. Fraudulent registrations included players from the
Dallas Cowboys.

-2008 ACORN activists gave Ohio residents cash and cigarettes in exchange for filling out voter registration card, according to the New York Post. Some voters claim to have registered dozens of times, and one man says he signed up on 72 cards.

-2007 A man in Reynoldsburg was indicted on two felony counts of illegal voting and false registration, after being registered by ACORN to vote in two separate counties.

-2004 A grand jury indicted a Columbus ACORN worker for submitting a false signature and false voter registration form. In Franklin County, two ACORN workers submitted what the director of the board of election supervisors called "blatantly false" forms. In Cuyahoga County, ACORN and its affiliate Project Vote submitted registration cards that had the highest rate of errors for any voter registration group.

-2009 Seven ACORN workers in the Pittsburgh area were indicted for submitting falsified voter registration forms. Six of the seven were also indicted for registering voters under an illegal quota system.

-2008 State election officials have thrown out 57,435 voter registrations, the majority of which were submitted by ACORN. The registrations were thrown out after officials found "clearly fraudulent" signatures, vacant lots listed as addresses, and other signs of fraud.

-2008 An ACORN employee in West Reading, PA, was sentenced to up to 23 months in prison for identity theft and tampering with records. A second ACORN worker pleaded not guilty to the same charges and is free on $10,000 bail.

-2004 Reading's Director of Elections received calls from numerous individuals complaining that ACORN employees deliberately put inaccurate information on their voter registration forms. The Berks County director of elections said voter fraud was "absolutely out of hand," and added: "Not only do we have unintentional duplication of voter registration but we have blatant duplicate voter registrations." The Berks County deputy director of elections added that ACORN was under investigation by the Department of Justice.

-2008 In Harris County, nearly 10,000 ACORN-submitted registrations were found to be invalid, including many with clearly fraudulent addresses or other personal information.

-2008 ACORN turned in the voter registration form of David Young, who told reporters "The signature is not my signature. It's not even close." His social security number and date of birth were also incorrect.

-2005 In 2005, the Virginia State Board of Elections admonished Project Vote and ACORN for turning in a significant number of faulty voter registrations. An audit revealed that 83% of sampled registrations that were rejected for carrying false or questionable information were submitted by Project Vote. Many of these registrations carried social security numbers that exist for other people, listed non-existent or commercial addresses, or were for convicted felons in violation of state and federal election law.

In a letter to ACORN, the State Board of Elections reported that 56% of the voter registration applications ACORN turned in were ineligible. Further, a full 35% were not submitted in a timely manner, as required by law. The State Board of Elections also commented on what appeared to be evidence of intentional voter fraud. "Additionally," they wrote, "information appears to have been altered on some applications where information given by the applicant in one color ink has been scratched through and re-entered in another color ink. Any alteration of a voter registration application is a Class 5 Felony in accordance with § 24.2-1009 of the Code of Virginia."

-2007 Three ACORN employees pleaded guilty, and four more were charged, in the worst case of voter registration fraud in Washington state history. More than 2,000 fraudulent voter registration cards were submitted by the group during a voter registration drive.

-2008 At least 33,000 ACORN-submitted registrations in Milwaukee have been called into question after it was found that the organizations had been using felons as registration workers, in violation of state election rules. Two people involved in the ongoing Wisconsin voter fraud investigation have been charged with felonies.

-2004 The district attorney's office investigated seven voter registration applications Project Vote employees filed in the names of people who said the group never contacted them. Former Project Vote employee Robert Marquise Blakely told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he had not met with any of the people whose voter registration applications he signed, "an apparent violation of state law," according to the paper.