Obama: Public service or fraud?

More ACORN stories: hereVoter-fraud stories: here

With ACORN, Obama for President campaign hits a speed bump

Investigations are underway in seven states — California is not one of them — of possible voter registration fraud by ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, a nationwide network of organically separate organizations.

Earlier this week, the FBI raided ACORN offices in Las Vegas. Elections offices in several Ohio counties have reported receiving large numbers of registration cards turned in by ACORN with duplicate names and addresses (in one case 12).

ACORN came into existence after Congress passed the Community Redevelopment Act in 1977. The CRA’s objective was to encourage banks to make home loans to higher-risk borrowers. ACORN became what it claims is the nation’s largest “grassroots” organization. Its specialty in many cities was to pressure banks into dramatically loosening their lending criteria.

Its tactics included occupying bankers’ offices, picketing their homes and filling lobbies with platoons of chanters. Madeline Talbott, the longtime leader of ACORN’s Chicago operations and an early political supporter of Barack Obama, honed disruption tactics to a sharp point.

ACORN’s other activity in recent years has been voter registration. Charges of fraud are nothing new to them. In Missouri and Washington state in 2006, their registrars were accused of the same sort of problems now being investigated. Then, as now, ACORN officials claimed they were “victims” of out-of-control registration workers. In Washington, several workers went to jail for such tactics as filling out registration cards by copying names from the telephone book.

ACORN’s activities are nothing new to Obama, although there has been no suggestion that he or his campaign have been involved in the practices being investigated. In the early ‘90s, when he returned to Chicago from Harvard Law School, ACORN asked him to conduct leadership training sessions for its community organizers — the battalions that Talbott would use in her campaign against the banks.

Later, when he was on the board of the Woods Fund, his efforts succeeded in that nonprofit expanding financial support for ACORN.

In the recent Congressional debate over the $700 billion rescue package of the financial sector, Democrats sought to insert a provision for funds to go to ACORN. It was dropped from the final version. Considering that fraud investigations are underway in seven states, that was a close call.


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