Friday, March 12, 2010

New election-fraud charges against employees of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) in Wisconsin are a helpful reminder that the scandal-prone, far-left liberal group remains as determined as ever to cause trouble come election time.

In Milwaukee, Maria L. Miles and Kevin L. Clancy stand accused of felony election fraud for reportedly repeatedly registering the same individuals on voter-registration forms. Both face up to three years’ imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. Milwaukee ACORN canvasser Latoya Lewis already was convicted of election fraud in October. All three cases arise out of the 2008 presidential election cycle.

But ACORN isn’t worried. To the nationwide network of hundreds of tax-dollar-devouring nonprofit affiliates, it’s business as usual: another day, another vote-fraud scheme. Doing voter registration right is unimportant to ACORN because accuracy takes a back seat to volume.

ACORN routinely tempts fate by recruiting the dregs of humanity for its voter drives, often placing felons - including identity thieves - in positions of authority. It views the inevitable attacks from Republicans that follow its voter-drive free-for-alls as positive events to be used in direct-mail solicitations. ACORN views such attacks, in the vocabulary of social science, as encouraging cohesion within the group. In other words, volleys from rancorous Republicans boost morale within the group and help it get leftist charities such as Baltimore’s Annie E. Casey Foundation to keep writing big, fat checks.

And ACORN doesn’t mind offering up the poor, ignorant and gullible as cannon fodder in the class struggle. To ACORN, there are always more would-be voter-registration canvassers where they came from.

The new charges in Wisconsin are merely the tip of the iceberg for ACORN and its voter-registration arm, Project Vote, which used to employ President Obama.

In Miami, 11 ACORN workers are charged with falsifying voter registrations, and in Pittsburgh, five ACORN workers are charged with the same.

In Nevada, former Las Vegas field director Christopher Edwards pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide unlawful financial bonuses to ACORN canvassers who gave incentives to ACORN workers to provide false registrations. Mr. Edwards has turned state’s evidence and will testify against his superior, Amy Busefink, who was Project Vote’s national voter registration director. Ms. Busefink and ACORN itself are also charged in the conspiracy. Jury selection begins in July.

Investigations into ACORN’s voter-drive shenanigans are also pending in Colorado, Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina and Orlando and Brevard County, Fla., according to an internal ACORN legal memo I obtained last year.

Meanwhile, ACORN is hoping its latest public-relations ruse may give it an opportunity to take in untold millions of taxpayer dollars under cover of darkness just in time to influence upcoming elections.

The ruse consists of ACORN’s effort to pass off various state chapters as supposedly new groups independent of ACORN. In this rebranding charade, state chapters are pretending to break away from the national ACORN group and reincorporate themselves as independent organizations.

At least four dummy nonprofit corporations have emerged from the rebranding process in recent months.

They are the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, New York Communities for Change, New England United for Justice (Massachusetts) and Arkansas Community Organizations. All four groups operate out of ACORN offices and are run by ACORN staffers. The president of New England United for Justice, Maude Hurd, just happens to be the 20-year national president of ACORN.

A senior ACORN staffer acknowledged the scam in an e-mail leaked to me:

“The truth is that it is hard for us to forsee [sic] any scenario where ACORN continues beyond the end of 2010 and some of us think it might not last that long,” writes Nathan Henderson-James, director of ACORN’s online campaigns, in an apparently authentic Feb. 22 e-mail.

“Last one to leave turn out the lights and wipe the server,” he writes at the end of the message.

The message from Mr. Henderson-James was forwarded to me by various sources who obtained it from the Google listserv Townhouse, an invitation-only discussion forum run by Matt Stoller, senior policy adviser to progressive hero Rep. Alan Grayson, Florida Democrat.

My sources advise me that the hundreds of high-level Democratic operatives, liberal activists and journalists who subscribe to the listserv are furious that Mr. Henderson-James’ e-mail was leaked. Listserv members are said to be angrily accusing each other of being the leakers. This breach of security could be the end for Townhouse, one of the members reportedly said.

ACORN Housing Corp., the best-funded of ACORN’s affiliates, is also participating in the rebranding effort aimed at duping high-dollar charities and the public and allowing ACORN to continue eating your tax money. ACORN Housing has opted simply to change its name to Affordable Housing Centers of America Inc.

There is no indication so far that ACORN intends to rebrand its voter-registration arm, Project Vote, which continues to operate.

Matthew Vadum is a senior editor at Capital Research Center, a Washington think tank that studies the politics of philanthropy.

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