The former director of the Las Vegas chapter of the far-left advocacy group ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) has agreed to testify against the organization, in exchange for a plea to reduced charges: two counts of conspiracy to illegally pay canvassers registering voters.
While any instance of ACORN being brought to account for breaking the law is welcome, this is only the tip of the iceberg. ACORN’s history of scandal goes back years. Jeremy Lott and Matthew Vadum of Capital Research Center provide a sample:
The Employment Policies Institute compiled ACORN cases for 2004 and 2005. Highlights include:
* “An ACORN employee in New Mexico registered a 13-year-old boy to vote. Citing this and other examples, state Representative Joe Thompson stated that ACORN was ‘manufacturing voters’ throughout New Mexico.”
* “In Ohio, a grand jury indicted an ACORN worker in Columbus for submitting a false signature and false voter registration form. In Franklin County, ACORN was forced to fi re two workers for submitting what the director of the board of election supervisors called ‘blatantly false’ forms.”
* “The Virginia State Board of Elections admonished Project Vote and ACORN [in 2005] for turning in a signifi cant 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.”
Before the 2006 midterm elections, the Wall Street Journal editorialized against ACORN’s efforts. The paper cited a string of cases:
* “[L]ess than a week before the midterm elections, four workers from ACORN… have been indicted by a federal grand jury for submitting false voter registration forms to the Kansas City, Missouri, election board.”
* “Acorn workers have been convicted in Wisconsin and Colorado, and investigations are still under way in Ohio, Tennessee and Pennsylvania.”
Washington’s secretary of state Sam Reed reported that in 2006 ACORN submitted 1,800 new voter registrations, and all but six were fake. This year in Washington state, seven ACORN workers were indicted on felony voter registration fraud charges, after the organization had entered into a consent decree to refrain from improper voting activities.
In Missouri, ACORN has had serious legal troubles that stretch back decades. Gov. Matt Blunt (R) recently told Human Events (Oct. 16) “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.”
According to Gov. Blunt, only half of the 5,000 registrations that ACORN submitted in St. Louis before the 2000 election were valid, and at least 1,000 of the invalid registrations were clearly fraudulent. Similar shenanigans were observed in the state’s 2004, 2006, and 2008 elections. That has lead to indictments or prosecutions of more than a dozen ACORN workers and to Blunt’s call for a far reaching federal investigation.
Scandals at ACORN don’t only concern badly-paid low-level workers. They are also swirling around ACORN founder and union boss Wade Rathke. Back in 2000 Rathke discovered that his brother Dale, who kept ACORN’s books, had embezzled nearly $1 million.
Rathke didn’t reveal this publicly or force his brother out. Instead, Dale was kept on the payroll and the theft was treated as a misappropriation for which the Rathke family made private restitution. The theft didn’t become public until this summer. According to the New York Times (July 9), Wade Rathke and “a small group of [ACORN] executives decided to keep the information from almost all of the group’s board members and not to alert law enforcement.”
It wasn’t until a whistleblower forced ACORN’s hand that the board was notified. Last June Dale was fi red and Wade resigned as ACORN’s chief organizer. But Wade kept his union job as chief organizer at SEIU local 100 and remains head of ACORN International, an overseas affiliate.
ACORN actually runs SEIU (Service Employees International Union) locals. SEIU President Andy Stern has emerged in recent years as the most vocal, and arguably most influential, union leader in America — President Obama called on him during a the “Fiscal Responsibility Summit,” held at the White House. It will be interesting to see what, if any, other ties emerge.
Fore more on SEIU, see here.