“A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves.”
— Bertrand de Jouvenel
Watching the increasingly rapacious conduct of ACORN (Association of Community Organizations) over the past few years and the considerable power and funds being gifted to it by this administration — while the press and Congress largely remain silent — I fear we are most surely heading into a government run by wolves.
ACORN’s role in the past two presidential elections has hardly received the kind of coverage a press concerned about protecting the right to free elections would have accorded it. Aside from some articles often lightheartedly making fun of the registrations of obviously non-existent voters, the press has largely averted its eyes from the widespread, multi-state efforts by ACORN to overwhelm the electoral officials through massive registration drives conducted by dubious characters paid piece work rates, operating with no supervision and making no real effort at doing an honest job of it.
In Pennsylvania, one retired justice questioned whether a fair election would be possible last November, showing stacks of phony registrations and photos of vacant lots used as “voters” addresses. The local district attorney said:
Between March 23rd and October 1st, various groups, including ACORN, submitted over 252,595 registrations to the Philadelphia County Election Board with 57,435 rejected for faulty information. Most of these registrations were submitted by ACORN, and rejected due to fake social security numbers, incorrect dates of birth, clearly fraudulent signatures, addresses that do not exist, and duplicate registrations. In one case, a man was registered to vote more than 15 times since the primary election.
In St Louis in 2006, over 1,000 addresses listed on ACORN registrations were non-existent and eight of its local workers were indicted. The Wall Street Journal reported: “In Seattle, local officials invalidated 1,762 Acorn registrations. Felony charges were filed against seven of its workers, some of whom have criminal records. Prosecutors say Acorn’s oversight of its workers was virtually nonexistent. To avoid prosecution, Acorn agreed to pay $25,000 in restitution.”
ACORN violated state law in Minneapolis by registering convicted felons — some of them still incarcerated at the time.
So widespread has this effort been — despite the organization’s suggestions that these violations of law are just the work of rogue employees — that I’ve been surprised at the federal government’s failure to institute a RICO prosecution of the organization.
I noted in the past that the Buckeye Institute of Ohio, relying on a similar state statute, instituted a suit against ACORN last year:
Among its factual assertions are these developed in Congressional hearings:
- From 2004-2006 ACORN has received $4.6 million in federal funds for its Housing Corporation.
- ACORN has 150 subsidiary organizations with a total operating budget of over $110 million this year.
- All the 150 subsidiaries operate from the top as a single enterprise, including the nonprofit Project Vote and the political operation known as Citizens Services.
- Citizens Services has endorsed Barack Obama and has received over $832,000 from Obama’s campaign during the primary period for services.
- ACORN and Citizen’s Services share the same board of directors. They also share office space in New Orleans.
The suit documents numerous instances of in-state predicate acts, including the following:
- Forgery, uttering forged documents, tampering with writings and records.
- Harassing people to encourage them to register multiple times; bribing people to register multiple times; registering non-existent and clearly ineligible voters (like minors); registering the same person in multiple counties; providing fraudulent and forged documents.
The lawsuit details numerous illegal activities committed by ACORN in Nevada, Indiana, Missouri, Colorado, Virginia, Washington, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Mexico, Texas, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Carolina.
Maurice Thompson, the director of the Buckeye Institute’s 1851 Center, reports that ACORN removed the case to federal court and then moved to dismiss it. The institute has moved to remand the matter back to the state court (Warren County, Ohio) and has responded to the motion to dismiss. The case is pending, awaiting further action by Judge Weber of the Southern District of Ohio. Mr. Thompson remains confident that the Buckeye Institute will ultimately prevail.
In the meantime, new information about ACORN’s potential wrongdoing during the election has come to light.
On March 19, a lawyer who represents the Pennsylvania Republican State Committee testified before the House Judiciary Subcommittee that a former ACORN worker, Anita Moncrief, told her that she’d been a confidential informant to New York Times reporter Stephanie Strom. Moncrief told Strom that the Obama presidential campaign committee had communicated to ACORN a list of those of their donors who had contributed the maximum amount allowed by law with the suggestion that ACORN get additional funds from these people for their Get Out the Vote campaign, an act suggesting the kind of coordination between the campaign and nonprofit committees which would violate federal law.
The New York Times killed the story once Strom reported this to her superiors at the paper, purportedly because “it was a game changer.”
The Times has declined to comment, but I’d be inclined to credit Moncrief’s report given the Times‘ long and shameful history of biased reporting in favor of Obama and the Democratic Party.
Since the election, ACORN has grown ever more emboldened. The organization has been increasingly engaging in the sort of transgressive conduct that even those not given to such hyperbole must compare to the actions of storm troopers. Thus, the organization they co-founded,”Connecticut Working Families Party,” set off on a bus tour of the homes of the AIG employees to intimidate them into rejecting the bonuses Congress had expressly legislated for them. This intimidation was not only fomenting rage against innocent private citizens, but against people whose only offense appears to have been trying to responsibly wind down AIG’s operations to protect, among other things, the substantial taxpayer funds invested in that very action.
Those who’ve paid attention to the mortgage meltdown know that ACORN was a prime mover in government programs and policies which forced banks to ignore longstanding and sound lending principles to give mortgages to people that they were not likely to be able to afford. And in demanding the jiggering of the rules of economic gravity, ACORN’s for-profit housing arm also got a cut of the funds for steering these lambs to their economic slaughter.
You’d think there’d be more said in the press about this and that ACORN would stand ashamed of its role. You’d be wrong. They are only further empowered by the disaster that befell all the lending institutions who succumbed to their pressure and borrowers who were seduced by them into obligations they couldn’t possibly meet. Now they are standing in the way of evictions of those who cannot pay their mortgages. If the banks can’t foreclose, it is difficult to imagine how the credit crisis will ever be resolved. Who would ever lend if they cannot upon default recoup the security for the loan with some ease and predictability? How can lending institutions obtain funds to lend if they cannot turn uncollectible debt into assets by reclaiming the foreclosed properties and reselling them?
In the stimulus package, money is made available for the renovation of housing. Some have charged that ACORN will, in Tony Soprano’s words, “get its beak in” for millions of dollars, though ACORN denies it has ever sought such funds or plans to do so. Even if one were to take the word of an organization with such an unsavory history, however, that doesn’t mean the federal funds spigot to ACORN has been turned off.
Last Friday, the Senate killed an amendment to the National Service Act (H.R. 1388) that would exclude funding for ACORN. Thus, ACORN is eligible to receive some of the “$5.87 billion to aid 250,000 volunteers across the country in the areas of health care, energy, environment and education.” Senator Vitter, the author of the failed amendment, wanted to exclude from consideration of such funds any group with a political action arm which he argued would “politicize charitable activity around the country.”
As Gateway Pundit notes upon the failure of this amendment, religious expression will preclude any group from receiving federal funding. But lying, cheating, forging documents, intimidating fellow citizens and harassing them, and repeatedly and openly interfering with free and honest elections throughout the land apparently gets ACORN a prime spot at the trough.