National ACORN spokesman Kevin Whelan said Monday that the organization’s board decided to close remaining state affiliates and field offices by April 1 because of falling revenues. Some other national operations will continue operating for at least several weeks before shutting for good. ACORN has faced a variety of allegations over the past two years, from voter registration fraud to Republican charges that it uses public funds for liberal political purposes. ACORN workers have gone to jail, and undercover tapes of ACORN workers seemingly giving advice on how to skirt the law.
The videos were recorded and posted online by James O’Keefe posed as a pimp and Hannah Giles, who posed as the prostitute in the undercover sting. The videos shows the pair approaching ACORN workers in Baltimore, San Bernadino, Washington DC, and Brooklyn asking them for advice on how to set up a prostitution ring involving more than a dozen underage girls from El Salvador. One of the ACORN workers suggests that Giles refer to herself as a “performing artist” on tax forms and declare some of the girls as dependents to receive child tax credits. “Stop saying prostitution,” the woman, identified by the filmmaker as an ACORN tax expert, tells Giles. The other woman tells them, “You want to keep them clean … make sure they go to school.” Several big affiliates, including ACORN New York and California,
broke away this year and changed their names in a bid to ditch the tarnished image of their parent organization and restore funding that ran dry in the wake of the video scandal. Brooklyn prosecutors cleared ACORN of criminal wrongdoing after a four-month probe that began when undercover conservative activists filmed workers giving what appeared to be illegal advice on how to hide money. Congress reacted by yanking ACORN’s federal funding, private donors held back cash and scores of ACORN offices closed. A U.S. judge reiterated an earlier ruling that the federal law blacklisting ACORN and groups allied with it was unconstitutional because it singled them out. ACORN could draw on 400,000 members to lobby for liberal causes, such as raising the minimum wage or adopting universal health care. ACORN was most successful at registering hundreds of thousands of low-income voters, some workers submitted forms signed by ‘Mickey Mouse’ or other cartoon characters.
A little ACORN History
The Sixties were an important time in the history of American politics. One of the groups that took risks, explored new ideas and developed a unique formula for a politics of justice in America was the National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO), led by George Wiley. By 1966, the NWRO had 170 groups in sixty cities across the nation. Wiley began an experiment that would explore the possibilities of a larger constituency for economic justice. He sent Wade Rathke, his young and highly talented organizer, to Little Rock, Arkansas to apply his creativity to the problem. He had to create a movement that would bring NWRO organizing to groups that should support it yet had little sympathy for its cause, such as conservative, low- and moderate-income Southern whites. When Rathke arrived in Little Rock in 1970, he began a campaign to help welfare recipients attain their basic needs – clothing and furniture. This drive, inspired by a clause in the Arkansas welfare laws, began the effort to create and sustain a social justice movement that would grow to become the Arkansas Community Organizations for Reform Now – ACORN. The goal was to unite welfare recipients with working people in need around issues of free school lunches for schoolchildren, unemployed workers’ concerns, Vietnam Veterans’ rights and hospital emergency room care. Many welfare rights members wanted a strictly welfare rights group and withdrew from the organization, fearing that they would lose control. After the split, the organization diversified further with the addition of the Vietnam Veterans Organizing Committee (VVOC) and the Unemployed Workers Organizing Committee (UWOC). The following year, ACORN leaders organized a “Save the City” campaign in Little Rock. The campaign addressed blue- collar homeowners’ concerns that their neighborhoods were being destroyed by traffic problems in the Centennial section, and by unscrupulous real estate agencies who engaged in blockbusting in the Oak Forest section.
ACORN began growing geographically, as well. It organized outside of Little Rock, establishing six regional offices in the state. One of the ACORN’s major statewide targets was Arkansas Power and Light. AP&L’s plan to build a huge coal-burning power plant in White Bluff presented a danger to farmers in the area. The farmers, organized into the Protect Our Land Association and Save Health and Property, demanded a $50 million damage deposit against AP&L’s potential destruction of farmers’ fields. Then, ACORN groups applied pressure on Governor Dale Bumpers, and Harvard University, a stockholder in AP&L. ACORN proved that it could organize in any setting and that ACORN members could contend effectively with even the big corporate players.
In 1972, ACORN made its first entry into electoral politics. ACORN’s Political Action Committee decided to back two candidates for Little Rock School Board, Doug Stevens and Bill Hamilton. Buoyed by their success, ACORN members decided to go one step further and run for office themselves. In 1974, ACORN members, joined by a group of International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union members, ran for seats on the Pulaski County Quorum Court. ACORN leaders seized the opportunity and ran a slate of candidates for the court. 250 candidates ran and 195 won.
In 1975, ACORN became a multi-state organization with new branches in Texas and South Dakota. ACORN national conventions and actions in 1978, 1979 and 1980 led to an entry into national politics through participation in the 1980 Presidential campaign. In December, 1978, ACORN held its first national convention in Memphis, Tennessee to discuss and initiate a national platform for low- and moderate- income people. The convention was planned to coincide with the National Democratic Party conference or “miniconvention”, which was conducting hearings to develop issues for the upcoming Democratic National Convention. July 1, 1979, ACORN’s second National Convention and Platform Conference was held in St. Louis. The purpose of the action was to refine the People’s Platform and to complete six-months of discussions in ACORN organizations around the country about their visions for the future of the nation. The planks included positions on energy, health care, taxes, housing, community development, banking, jobs and income, rural issues, and representation.
ACORN members confronted candidates and their aides, ran ACORN delegates for the Democratic National Convention and built coalition support for the ACORN Commission. The UAW, IAM, AFL-CIO and local and state party committees of the Democratic Party enlisted in the program. ACORN actions hit hard from Houston to Little Rock to Tampa to Davenport to St. Louis. ACORN members ran as delegates to the Democratic National Convention in New York in caucuses and primaries. The result was a contingent of forty- two delegates and alternates representing ACORN in the convention. On the floor of the convention, ACORN passed a resolution by voice vote establishing the ACORN Commission. By the end of the 20/80 Campaign, ACORN’s staff was stretched thin by the demands of meeting the goal of expanding to twenty states by 1980. Much of its resources and energy had been dedicated to participating in the presidential primaries and national conventions of the Republican and Democratic Parties.
Fifteen thousand ACORN members and their allies established “Reagan Ranches” in over 35 cities to protest Reagan policies of massive military spending and meager social spending. It was well publicized. This was a part of the political dimension of squatting. The original vision of the movement to win the power to control important decisions in American life for the majority continued to guide ACORN members and allies across the country. The people and the organization they comprise, 70,000 plus in twenty-eight states, grew in size, numbers, and maturity. Working at all levels of politics and in every corner of the country, ACORN has parlayed its building efforts into major victories. While some of ACORN’s most exciting efforts were in the area of housing, its victories also included health, public safety, education, representation, work and workers’ rights and communications concerns. The 1990 ACORN convention in Chicago focused on the fast-breaking housing campaign. It featured a squatting demonstration at an RTC house which was reclaimed for use in an ACORN neighborhood. Later, ACORN members, in a spirited action on the U.S. League of Savings Institutions, demanded cooperation from banks about providing loan data on low- and moderate-income communities and compliance with the Community Reinvestment Act. The housing issue continued to heat up in 1991, when ACORN fought back against bank lobbyist efforts to gut the CRA. ACORN members staged a two- day takeover of the House Banking Committee hearing room to be sure their voices were heard by Congress. Jack Kemp, Secretary of HUD under President Bush, listened, too, when ACORN persistently pursued him. As a result, ACORN won thousands of homes for low- and moderate-income people that the RTC had been auctioning to wealthy bidders before this important victory. The national media also listened when ACORN identified and publicized lending discrimination by banks to lower-income and minority applicants for mortgages. ACORN Housing Corporation, created to service people moving into homes under the housing campaign, rehabilitated hundreds of houses in low- and moderate-income communities around the country.
The ACORN convention in New York in 1992, the “ACORN-Bank Summit,” was organized to hammer out deals with giant banks like Continental, First Fidelity, Mellon, PriMerit, and Chemical. Representatives signed agreements to establish programs for low- and moderate-income people to qualify for mortgages in their communities. The meeting also led to increased Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac funding from the secondary mortgage market to ACORN neighborhoods. These efforts led to billions of dollars of primary and secondary mortgage money flowing into ACORN communities over a period of several years. ACORN parents won victories in New York, creating the Rockaways New School and PS 245, and in Chicago, where they established the Nicholson and Mason 21 schools. These small schools were set up as partnerships between parents and teachers to serve the local communities and improve children’s education. Also in Chicago, ACORN members saved Dewey elementary from closing twice and won funding to rehabilitate it. Dewey now has some of highest test scores in the Chicago school system.
In 1993, ACORN began a national campaign to fight insurance redlining, a practice that put the gains made in other housing campaigns at risk. Homeowners in low- and moderate-income communities could not get insurance or paid higher rates. The insurance redlining campaign targeted Allstate, hitting sales offices in fourteen cities and a Sears, Allstate’s parent company, stockholders meeting. Allstate agreed to negotiate and signed an agreement in 1994 for a $10 million partnership with ACORN and NationsBank for below-market mortgages to low-income home buyers. In 1994 the ACORN national convention, “Taking it to the Top,” was held in Washington, DC. Its goal was to meet with top government officials in the executive branch and Congress. Members met with Secretary of Education William Riley, Attorney General Janet Reno, Chair of the Federal Reserve Board Alan Greenspan, and HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros. This supplied needed support for ATU work for proper maintenance services, operating appliances, fair representation and the right to organize in Texas, Illinois, Connecticut, Ohio, and New York. ACORN took the lead in organizing broad-based community and labor coalitions in support of a living wage. By the close of the 90s, 41 cities had passed living wage laws requiring employers that receive government contracts or subsidies to pay their employees at least enough to lift a family of four above the poverty level. At the close of the 90s, ACORN was 125,000 members strong
2009 Milwaukee, Wisconsin: Latoya Lewis pled guilty on October 12, 2009 on charges of voter registration fraud. Lewis, who was working for ACORN when she committed the acts in 2008 that led to her guilty plea, said she was trying to “meet her quota as a paid registrar”.
2008 In Orange County, Florida, ACORN staffers submitted multiple, duplicate registrations on behalf of six separate voters over this summer. One individual had 21 duplicate applications. Election Supervisor Bill Cowles and his staff protested, noting in a June memo that ACORN had been submitting sloppy forms as well.
The Michigan Secretary of State office told the Detroit Free Press that ACORN had been submitting a sizeable number of duplicate and fraudulent applications to vote.
In Lake County, Indiana, election officials discovered “dozens of ACORN-delivered registration forms they believe contain inaccurate voter information, including one in which a dead man from Gary was listed as the applicant.” The applications were not processed.
In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Sean Cairncross, the Republican Party’s chief lawyer said that ACORN is “engaged in systematic fraud and attempts to undermine our electoral system”. This was in the wake of a report that had hired at least seven felons as voter registration workers in the city. As of early October, Milwaukee election officials have referred to the Milwaukee County district attorney’s office 49 cases of people who submitted potentially fraudulent registration cards.
An ACORN employee in West Reading, Pennsylvania, 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.
2007 In Washington, five Washington state ACORN workers were sentenced to jail time. ACORN agreed to pay King County $25,000 for its investigative costs and acknowledged that the national organization could be subject to criminal prosecution if fraud occurs again. According to King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg, the misconduct was done “as an easy way to get paid [by ACORN], not as an attempt to influence the outcome of elections.
In Reynoldsburg, Ohio, Claudel Gilbert was indicted on two felony counts of illegal voting and false registration, after being registered by ACORN to vote in two separate counties. He pled guilty to the illegal voting charges, his lawyer claiming voter confusion rather than criminal intent. The charges of false registration were dropped by the Franklin County prosecutor’s office. Common Pleas Judge Richard A. Frye sentenced Gilbert to probation for one year and fined him $500 but suspended a six-month prison sentence.
In Missouri, four ACORN employees were indicted in Kansas City for charges including identity theft and filing false registrations during the 2006 election.
2006 On November 1, 2006, four part-time ACORN employees were indicted in Kansas City, Missouri for voter registration fraud. Prosecutors said the indictments are part of a national investigation. ACORN said in a press release that it is in part responsible in these individuals being caught, fired them, and cooperated and publicly supported efforts to look into the validity of the allegations.
ACORN was investigated in 2006 for submitting false voter registrations in St. Louis, Missouri. 1,492 fraudulent voter registrations were identified.
The Richland County (South Carolina) Voter Registration Office in October 2006 heard from a person who had received a new voter registration card without applying for it. On investigation, the office discovered the application had been turned in by an ACORN worker. The State Law Enforcement Division investigated the situation. They discovered that ACORN had recruited four Benedict College students to register new voters. The group’s political advisor found some had questionable entries, eventually firing all four workers. Two of the students were charged with election law violations for false swearing in applying for registration. In 2009, the case was settled and no penalties that may have been assessed against the students, who were minors at the time of the irregularities, were announced in public.
2005 In Colorado in January 2005, two Colorado ACORN workers were sentenced to community service for submitting false voter registrations. ACORN’s regional director said, “we find it abhorrent and do everything we can to prevent it from happening.”
In Virginia, the 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.”
2004 In Ohio in 2004, four ACORN employees were indicted by a federal grand jury for submitting false voter registration forms.
In Texas, 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.
In Pennsylvania, the director of elections in Reading reported receiving 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.
In Michigan, 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.
In Florida, 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.
According to public records, ACORN and several of its affiliates owe what amounts to millions of dollars in unpaid taxes. Though several of their tax liens, which are only issued after several attempts have been made to collect the debt, have been released, ACORN itself has at least three liens currently: two owed to the IRS for $547,312 and $132,997, as well as another concerning property they own in California for $33,978. ACORN Community Labor Organizing and SEIU owe $306,407 and $50,000 to the IRS, respectively.
Connecticut Officials in Connecticut are investigating ACORN after the name of a 7-year-old girl was found on a registration card as a 27 year old.
The Connecticut Elections Enforcement Commission is investigating a complaint that ACORN submitted fraudulent voter registration cards in Bridgeport. The complaint was filed by Joseph Borges, the registrar of voters for Bridgeport. He says he “found problems with numerous voter registration cards submitted by” the group. ACORN filed over 8,000 cards in Bridgeport.
Florida In Orange County, Florida, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement began in investigation in October2008 as to whether an ACORN worker forged an Orange County woman’s signature on a voter registration form and then turned it in. A separate voter registration card for Mickey Mouse was turned in. ACORN workers in Florida report having a quota system under which they are paid $8.00/hour and must turn in 20 registration cards per work shift.
In September 2009, 11 ACORN workers were accused by Florida prosecutors of falsifying information on 888 voter registration forms.
Indiana ACORN submitted 5,000 voter registration forms in Lake County, Indiana in September and October 2008. Local election officials say that about half of the forms are fraudulent. Eric Weathersby, executive director of the group’s Northwest Indiana office, said that workers were asked to bring in 20 registrations a day, but “it was not a quota they had to meet”. Ruthann Hoagland of the Lake County election board said the first 2,100 cards they looked at were phony. “Everything on the card filled out looks exactly the same.”
Louisiana In June 2008, a spokesman from Project Vote, an ACORN affiliate, acknowledged that 35 percent of the cards turned into Louisiana officials were duplicates. One woman had five cards turned in for her, and told election officials that she had completed none of them.
On October 23, it was learned that 50% of the 8,600 voter registrations turned in by the national group Voting Is Power, affiliated with ACORN, were incomplete or incorrectly filled out. U.S. Senator David Vitter, R-Metairie, has asked the state’s three U.S. attorneys and its FBI special agent in charge to launch investigations.
Ernie Roberson, the Caddo Parish Registrar of Voters, said the group’s registrations make up “better than 5 percent of the registered voter base in Caddo that just magically appeared in our office over a 10-day period.” Many cards had names and addresses taken from the phone book, and information on them, such as ethnicity, Social Security numbers, dates of birth or signatures, were false, or in some cases came from people who have been dead for some time.
Of the cards: 65% (5,600) were deemed invalid. In Jefferson Parish, VIP turned in 2,689 cards, of which 1,135 — or 42 percent — were invalid.”
Michigan The Michigan Secretary of State told the press in September that Acorn had submitted “a sizeable number of duplicate and fraudulent applications.”
Minnesota According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, ACORN staff in two counties, Hennepin and Ramsey, turned in forms past the 10-day window allowed. The Hennepin County Attorney’s office said on October 14 that it is investigating whether a voter registration processing lapse at the Minnesota ACORN office falls within guidelines for criminal prosecution. The International Falls Daily Journal asked for an investigation.
Missouri In early October 2008, officials in Jackson County, Missouri, initiated an investigation of Acorn voter registrations. Charlene Davis, Jackson County’s election board co-director said, “I don’t even know the entire scope of it because registrations are coming in so heavy.” The investigation discovered that more than 400 registration cards with false names and addresses were turned in by Acorn workers, and also identified in the one county about 100 duplicates, 280 addresses that don’t exist, people who have driver’s licenses that don’t verify and Social Security numbers that don’t verify. Some of the cards are without addresses. Eight ex-ACORNworkers pled guilty in federal court to fraud charges in April for submitting registrations in 2006 with fake names, fake addresses, and forged signatures. Each may be sentenced to up to five years in jail and significant fines.
Nevada In August 2009, ACORN’s former Las Vegas field director, Christopher Edwards, agreed to testify against ACORN in a case in which Las Vegas election officials say 48% of the voter registration forms the group turned in were “clearly fraudulent.” He then testified before a judge that during the summer of 2008, he paid voter registration workers a $5 bonus if they turned in 21 or more voter registration cards in a day. Such bonuses are illegal under Nevada law, according to state prosecutors. A Nevada judge is considering whether Amy Busefink, who supervised Edwards in 2008, should stand trial on 13 felony charges of compensation for registration of voters. When Edwards testified, he told Justice of the Peace William D. Jansen that “No one in ACORN knew this was illegal.”
In October 2008, Nevada’s Democratic Secretary of State Ross Miller requested a raid on Acorn’s offices, following complaints of false names and fictional addresses (including the starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys).
On July 7, 2008 the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that a Clark County, Nevada official “sees rampant fraud in the 2,000 to 3,000 registrations ACORN turns in every week.”.
The ACORN office in Nevada office was raided by law enforcement officials who were seeking additional information on accusations that the group had hired 59 felons and had submitted 30 apparently fraudulent registration cards.
On October 6, 2009, a criminal investigator with the Nevada Secretary of State filed a search-warrant affidavit stating that ACORN hired 59 state prison inmates to collect voter-registration forms. These include:
Jason Anderson, currently imprisoned for burglary and firearms violations at the state’s Casa Grande halfway house in Las Vegas. Anderson was a team leader for ACORN, and told investigators that some of his co-workers “hired by ACORN were ‘lazy crack-heads’ who were not interested in working and just wanted the money.”
Darmela Jone who said she “submitted approximately 40 Voter Registration Applications while employed at ACORN and only 10 were real applications.”
An ACORN canvasser, according to the complaint, “was caught completing forms using names and addresses copied from the telephone book.”
A Nevada woman, Roberta Casteel, who had not registered to vote, learned that nevertheless a voter-registration application was submitted to the state by ACORN which included her name, driver’s license number and Social Security number
New Mexico On October 17, the Republican Party in New Mexico announced it had found 28 fraudulent voters in a Democratic primary earlier in 2008. The GOP said it looked at the data from 92 newly registered voters in the district, finding 28 that had “missing or inaccurate Social Security numbers or birth dates. In some cases, more than one voter was registered using the same Social Security number. In others, people who the Republicans said had no Social Security number on public record were registered.” Before the primary, ACORN was one of the organizations registering voters in the area. State Rep. Justine Fox (R-Albuquerque) said, “This is a bombshell. We now have undeniable proof that a significant number of fraudulent voters were cast in Democrat primary races for the New Mexico state legislature as a result of ACORN’s voter registration fraud.” The vote took place in House District 13, where no Republican ran for the seat.
On September 17, the Bernalillo County clerk notified prosecutors that about 1,100 possibly fraudulent voter registration cards have been turned in to her office. The cards in question involve issues such as:
The same name as a voter who’s already registered, but carry a different birth date or Social Security number.
Listing a social security number for a different person than the person whose card it is supposed to be.
Addresses that don’t exist.
In August, the Albuquerque Journal reported that Acorn had turned in a forged card for Rebecca Sitterly, a former state District Court judge from Albuquerque who has been voting in the same place for nearly two decades.
North Carolina In Durham, North Carolina, the State Board of Elections officials in early October investigated 100 voter registration forms submitted by a local branch of Acorn when “All of a sudden, I started seeing the same names over and over again”, according to Mike Ashe, county elections director. He said some forms had similar names but different addresses or dates of birth.
Ohio The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections referred more 14 cases of potential voter registration fraud to the county prosecutor today as part of an investigation of suspicious registration cards submitted by ACORN.
Freddie Johnson of Cleveland, Ohio, testified before the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections that Acorn workers asked him to sign 73 voter registration forms. Johnson also told an Ohio newspaper that he was given cash and cigarettes by ACORN activists he described as “aggressive”. John additionally testified that the Acorn workers told him they were paid by the signature, and that he was helping them earn additional pay by continuing to sign his name for them.
On October 14, The Buckeye Institute filed a state RICO action against the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) on behalf of two Warren County, Ohio voters. The action filed in Warren County Court of Common Pleas alleges ACORN has engaged in a pattern of corrupt activity that amounts to organized crime. The lawsuit seeks ACORN’s dissolution as a legal entity, the revocation of any licenses in Ohio, and an injunction against fraudulent voter registration and other illegal activities.
Pennsylvania Dauphin County: Luis Torres-Serrano is accused of submitting over hundred fraudulent voter registration forms he collected on behalf of ACORN. Authorities are offering a $2,000 award for information on the whereabouts of Torres-Serrano. He is charged with 19 counts of perjury, making false statements and identity theft. County law enforcement officials were alerted to the possible criminal actions by Dauphin County elections head Steven G. Chiavetta; he became aware of the problem when people contacted his office to ask why they had received a new voter registration form when they had never filled out a card.
Delaware County: A man working for ACORN was arrested on October 21 for submitting 18 false voter registration forms.
Philadelphia: Official here are seeking an investigation into ACORN’s voter registration program because they “were fed up with false applications gumming up the works” and “specifically accused” ACORN of turning in bad paperwork. ACORN along with other organizations submitted over 250,000 registration forms in Philadelphia in 2008. Many were rejected because they were duplicates, but another 5,000 are questionable because of non-existent addresses. Others are being rejected due to incorrect birthdays, social security numbers, or because those registered are children. Some individuals close to the organization say that ACORN workers are judged by unspoken quotas, leading them to make up registration cards, a charge the organization is denying.
Pittsburgh: A Pittsburgh-area district attorney is probing ACORN voter registrations in the wake of complaints about possible forgery and irregularities in registration forms submitted by the group. an organization already under investigation in several states.
West Reading: An ACORN worker 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.
York: An ACORN worker in York was arrested for submitting 100 fraudulent registrations.
Statewide: ACORN turned in 78,376 voter applications from April 28, 2008 through October 6, 2008. As of October 24, 6,962 had been rejected by election officials for reasons other than duplication. An additional 80,000 voter applications were duplicates, including those turned in by Acorn and other groups.
Lawsuit: The Republican Party of Pennsylvania announced on October 17 that they were filing a lawsuit against Pedro Cortes and ACORN and its subsidiaries. The press conference to announce the lawsuit included former Supreme Court Justice and PAGOP Fair Elections Task Force Chair Sandra Newman. The basis for the lawsuit was a claim of voter dilution. Craig Williams, who is a candidate in the 7th Congressional district and a former Federal prosecutor, is a co-plaintiff. Williams said, “Voter fraud is a crime against democracy and violates a critical tenet of our system of government: one person, one vote.”
Texas ACORN turned in 30,000 registration cards ACORN in Harris County, Texas. Tax assesssor Paul Bettencourt reported that 33% are invalid and noted some specifics:
A church was listed as the voter registration address for 150 people.
About 250 cards listed the address of a homeless outreach center as their home address.
Wisconsin Seven felons were hired by ACORN to register voters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Previous convictions were for robbery and cocaine possession. The seven had been designated as special registration deputies, allowing them to solicit and keep voter registration applications before turning them in to local election officials. One special registration deputy has a pending felony charge for heroin possession and another is facing a misdemeanor prostitution charge. A third was convicted of misdemeanor prostitution. The law says anyone who can vote can be a special registration deputy, and felons can vote as long as they are no longer on probation or parole. But the attorney for the Government Accountability Board, which runs elections, issued an April 3 memo saying the board’s staff believed convicted felons couldn’t serve in the role.
A criminal complaint accuses 29-year-old Frank Walton of Oak Creek with submitting 54 false voter registrations in June. Some of the registrations listed vacant buildings as addresses, others had false driver’s license numbers and still others had false Social Security numbers. Others charged with vote fraud include Adam Mucklin for illegally registering to vote , and charges against Endalyn Adams, who worked for ACORN, for submitting dozens of fake voter registrations.
ACORN employee Adams is charged with submitting 45 forms, about twenty-seven or 60% of which contained information alleged to be false, including 19 voter forms listed persons that do not appear to exist, 19 voter registration forms were determined by police investigators to be nonexistent, 22 of the driver license numbers were fraudulent.
Latoya Lewis pled guilty on October 12, 2009 on charges of voter registration fraud. Lewis, who was working for ACORN when she committed the acts in 2008 that led to her guilty plea, said she was trying to “meet her quota as a paid registrar”.
Virginia A voter-registration worker was indicted in Norfolk, Virginia, on October 16 for election fraud. The woman worked for the Community Voters Project, which is an ACORN affiliate. She was charged with three counts of felony election fraud for giving voter-registration applications containing false information to the Norfolk voter registrar’s office.
Three members of the same group had previously been charged (in July 2008) with voter fraud after the registrar in Norfolk found irregularities with hundreds of applications submitted by eight to ten canvassers. The registrar has referred some of that paperwork to law enforcement. The problems in Hampton and Norfolk are said by a local newspaper to have been the result of a quota system used by the Community Voters Project.
In Hampton, Virginia, election officials said on October 16 that “dubious applications are nothing new, but that this year the numbers are “off the charts.” The phony applications are brazen, according to a local newspaper, involving behaviors such as listing fake names, addresses and phone numbers.
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