Concerns Grow About ACORN

Missouri Governor Matt Blunt told HUMAN EVENTS yesterday he is ‘very concerned’ about Obama’s ties to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now — ACORN — which is being investigated for fraudulent voter registrations in several states. ACORN has so far helped register 1.3 million people to vote in 2008.

“This is not a Lion’s Club or a social club that tried to have a voter registration effort and made some mistakes. This is a group with a history of systematic fraud around Election Day,” Blunt told HUMAN EVENTS. “I think it says a lot about Obama’s judgment that they would make an $800,000 contribution to a group that has a history of systematic fraud.”

In Missouri, a key battleground state this election year, local election officials have already reported fraudulent registration forms submitted by ACORN, including multiple registrations from one home.

“I’m not talking about two or three people registered from one home, but literally dozens,” Blunt said.

According to Blunt, ACORN has a history of fraud in the Show Me State. In 2000, the group submitted over 5,000 registrations from the city of St. Louis. Less than half turned out to be valid, and Blunt said a thousand of them were a clear attempt to commit registration fraud. In 2006, four ACORN employees were indicted in Missouri; in 2008, eight ACORN workers pleaded guilty to registration fraud in the state. Missouri ACORN head organizer Jeff Ordower did tell HUMAN EVENTS, however, that ACORN must turn in every card it receives and that the organization has both flagged suspicious activities and cooperated fully with all outside whistleblowers.

There is a laundry list of associations between Obama and ACORN; Blunt noted ACORN’s February endorsement of Obama for presidency and the $800,000 contribution the Obama campaign made to an ACORN front group called Citizen Services — money used for “get out the vote” projects, as reported by David M. Brown in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review (Ordower confirmed he has worked with Citizen Services on some projects in Missouri). In his article, Brown wrote Obama’s campaign originally told the Federal Election Commission that the money was used for “activities such as polling, advance work and staging major events.”

“So some of the voter registration that ACORN is doing across the country is indeed funded by the Obama campaign,” Blunt said. “There are a lot of connections, and in a lot of ways — at least as I look at them — I think you have to think of them as one in the same. You should be concerned about this regardless of party. This is a systematic attempt to undermine the election process.”

ACORN also hired Obama in 1992 to lead a voter registration effort in Chicago.

“He was their lawyer in a lawsuit against the state of Illinois, he’s taught their classes. It’s legitimate to ask questions about what he taught,” Blunt said. “Did he teach them how to register voters? Or teach them how to defraud the system? I think Senator Obama needs to explain his ties to ACORN, including what he taught ACORN when he was a teacher in ACORN classes.”

Blunt said getting answers from Obama is only one of three actions that need to be taken. The governor has publicly called for taxpayer funding of ACORN to cease and feels there should be an investigation on how the group has handled those funds. Currently, ACORN’s website states that “[n]one of ACORN’s contracts to perform work on projects receiving federal grant money has provided funding for voter registration,” which Ordower confirmed was true in Missouri.

Blunt also wants a federal investigation of ACORN’s nationwide effort to register voters.

“They’ve said that they’ve registered 1.3 million people. If 10 percent of those are fraudulent, it could decide the election, given the close nature of battleground states,” Blunt said. “Missouri could be close, and unfortunately fraud in a very, very close election could decide the matter. So this is a real problem, and it’s something that everybody has got to pay attention to every minute between now and Election Day.”

Blunt said the whistleblowers in Missouri have been the local election authorities — a bipartisan election board in the urban areas and a county clerk in the rural areas and counties. Ordower said ACORN has cooperated fully in such cases.

“That’s the sort of person that’s made these initial reports,” Blunt said. “That’s what you see across the county. The state of Nevada, for example — the Democratic Secretary of State was the one who asked for the raid on an ACORN office because of the fraud that he was seeing.”

The Republican National Committee has added a humorous touch during the ACORN news cycle. The RNC website launched “Obama’s ACORN Tree,” a nifty graphic outlining the many connections between ACORN and the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate. The page also links to a new blog which follows the activities of the ACORN “squirrels,” a self-described “group of concerned squirrels traveling around the country in an effort to highlight Barack Obama’s relationship with ACORN.”

The blog includes pictures of these abnormally large, orange squirrels out on their community-organizing missions.

*Cartoon by Brett Noel