Karl Rove And The Republican War Against ACORN

ACORN has long been in Karl Rove's crosshairs.

ACORN has long been one of Karl Rove's targets.

In recent days, the Washington Post, the New York Times and other major news outlets have recounted the “troubled” history of the poor people’s advocacy group ACORN, but left out the five-year anti-ACORN campaign led by White House adviser Karl Rove and other Republican operatives.

Dropped down the memory hole is the fact that ACORN was at the center of the so-called “prosecutor-gate” scandal, when the Bush administration pressured U.S. Attorneys to bring indictments over the grassroots group’s voter-registration drives and then fired some prosecutors who resisted what they viewed as a partisan strategy not supported by solid evidence.

The latest furor over ACORN was touched off by conservative filmmaker James E. O’Keefe III and a right-wing columnist who posed as a couple planning to buy a house for use as a brothel and getting advice from a few ACORN employees, rather than being turned away.

The pair filmed their meetings at ACORN offices with a hidden-camera, producing a video that brought to a fever pitch the long-simmering Republican war against ACORN. The video was trumpeted by Fox News and other right-wing news outlets, starting a stampede in the mainstream press and in Congress, where a majority of panicked Democrats joined the herd in approving legislation to strip ACORN of federal funds.

The stampede, which trampled ACORN and its mostly black and Hispanic organizing staff, soon pulled in President Barack Obama, who often has touted his work as a community organizer in his youth. In an interview last Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” Obama told host George Stephanopoulos that ACORN “deserves to be investigated.”

Yet, while bending to Republican demands to speak out against a poor people’s group, Obama continued to resist the notion that powerful Republicans from the Bush administration deserved to be investigated for authorizing the use of torture against prisoners in the “war on terror.”

In an interview with CBS’s “Face The Nation,” Obama downplayed the seriousness of an investigation authorized last month by Attorney General Eric Holder into several cases where CIA officers allegedly exceeded Justice Department guidelines during the interrogations.

“I have said consistently that I want to look forward and not backward when it comes to some of the problems that occurred under the previous administration, or when it came to interrogations,” Obama said. “My understanding is it’s not even a criminal investigation at this point.”

Stark Juxtaposition

That juxtaposition is a stark example of how Republicans – aided by the giant megaphone of the right-wing media – continue to keep Democrats on the defensive, while evidence of Republican guilt gets little sustained attention except at a handful of Internet sites.

That pattern holds true even for issues connected to ACORN.

For instance, much less media interest followed the House Judiciary Committee’s August release of Bush administration e-mails related to the role that Rove and other Bush administration officials played in the firings of nine U.S. attorneys amid a Republican effort to target ACORN’s voter- registration work during the 2004 presidential election between President George W. Bush and Sen. John Kerry.

Two of the nine U.S. Attorneys who were fired in 2006 were targeted because they refused to bring criminal charges against individuals affiliated with ACORN. The firing of another U.S. Attorney was due, in large part, to his refusal to convene a grand jury and secure a voter-fraud indictment against individuals, some of who were affiliated with ACORN.

In a May 2, 2005, Rove deputy Scott Jennings sent to another Rove protégé Tim Griffin an e-mail, which said that in the fall of 2004, Bernalillo County’s Republican Sheriff Darren White and Pat Rogers and Mickey Barnett, Republican Party operatives in New Mexico, turned over hundreds of “suspected fraudulent voter registration forms” handled by ACORN workers. The e-mail was also forwarded to Leslie Fahrenkopf, Bush’s associate counsel.

In 2004, New Mexico was considered a swing state in the Bush-Kerry race and Bernalillo County had been targeted by ACORN for a major grassroots effort to register voters, which resulted in about 65,000 newly registered voters, many of who were low-income and minorities who tend to vote for Democrats.

Sheriff White challenged the integrity of some of the names on the voter registration rolls, according to then-New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias in his book, In Justice: Inside  the Scandal that Rocked the Bush Administration. White held a press conference along with other Republican officials in the county to call attention to the matter.

“The purported examples that were then produced included a woman who had correctly filled out two different registrations with slightly different signatures and another in which a husband, with his wife’s permission, had signed her name to the form,” Iglesias wrote. “It was demanded that I take action against what was perceived as rampant abuse of the system.”

Scant Evidence

Iglesias said he established an election fraud task force in September 2004 and spent more than two months probing claims of widespread voter fraud in his state. In testimony before a Senate committee in 2007, Iglesias said the task force received about 108 complaints of alleged voter fraud through a hotline over the course of about eight weeks.

“Most of the complaints made to the hotline were clearly not prosecutable – citizens would complain of their yard signs being removed from their property and de minimis matters like that,” Iglesias testified.

“Only one case of the over 100 referrals had potential. ACORN had employed a woman to register voters. The evidence showed she registered voters who did not have the legal right to vote. The law, 42 USC 1973 had the maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment and a $5,000 fine.

“After personally reviewing the FBI investigative report and speaking to the agent, the prosecutor I had assigned, Mr. [Rumaldo] Armijo, and conferring with [a Justice Department official] I was of the opinion that the case was not provable. I, therefore, did not authorize a prosecution.

“I have subsequently learned that the State of New Mexico did not file any criminal cases as a result of the” election fraud task force.

Iglesias said Republican officials in his state were far less interested in election reforms and more intent on suppressing votes. He wrote in his book that the Justice Department issued a directive to every U.S. Attorney in the country to find and prosecute cases of voter fraud in their states during the height of hotly contested elections in 2002, 2004, and 2006, even though evidence was thin or non-existent.

During this period, ACORN had stepped up its voter registration efforts and boasted in press releases about registering tens of thousands of first-time voters.

Iglesias said in late summer 2002 he received an e-mail from the Justice Department suggesting “in no uncertain terms” that U.S. Attorneys should immediately begin working with local and state acorn_logo_nu-cropped-proto-custom_2election officials “to offer whatever assistance we could in investigating and prosecuting voter fraud cases.”

Other pressure also came from congressional and state Republicans. In New Mexico, Barnett, Rogers  White were among Republican operatives who complained directly to Rove at the White House and to officials in Bush’s Justice Department that Iglesias would not prosecute ACORN employees. These unhappy Republicans demanded that Iglesias be replaced.

According to a report by the Justice Department’s inspector general released last year, “In a March 2006 e-mail forwarded to [Craig] Donsanto in the [Justice Department’s] Public Integrity Section, Rogers complained about voter fraud in New Mexico and added, ‘I have calls in, to the USA [U.S. Attorney] and his main assistant, but they were not much help during the ACORN fraudulent registration debacle last election.”

In June 2006, Rogers sent Iglesias’s Executive Assistant U.S. Attorney Rumaldo Armijo an e-mail, which said, “The voter fraud wars continue. Any indictment of the Acorn woman would be appreciated. . . . The ACLU/Wortheim [sic] democrats will turn to the camera and suggest fraud is not an issue, because the USA would have done something by now. Carpe Diem!” [Carpe Diem is translated, “seize the day.”]

Despite positive job reports, Iglesias was fired in December 2006 as part of a purge of nine federal prosecutors who were deemed not “loyal Bushies” or had other supposed shortcomings.

Last August, Rove went on Fox News to downplay his role in Iglesias’s firing, but acknowledged that he did pass on complaints to the Bush Justice Department about “the performance of the U.S. Attorney in New Mexico, that he failed to go after ACORN in clear cases of vote fraud…”

Expanded Warfare

But the Republican war against ACORN didn’t stop with Iglesias.

In Missouri, former U.S. Attorney Todd Graves was another federal prosecutor who fell into disfavor with the Bush administration because of alleged inaction on ACORN and voter fraud issues.

Graves would not file criminal charges of voter fraud against four employees of ACORN, according to documents later released by the Justice Department in connection with the fired-prosecutors probe.

Graves also resisted pressure from Bradley Schlozman, head of the Bush Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, to file a lawsuit against Robin Carnahan, Missouri’s Democratic Secretary of State, on charges that Carnahan failed to take action on cases of voter fraud, Graves testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2007.

Graves was forced to resign in March 2006 and was replaced by Schlozman as Missouri’s acting U.S. Attorney. Schlozman then filed the civil suit against Carnahan.

The case was later dismissed by a federal court judge who ruled, “The United States has not shown that any Missouri resident was denied his or her right to vote as a result of deficiencies alleged by the United States. Nor has the United States shown that any voter fraud has occurred.”

Schlozman also filed federal criminal charges of voter registration fraud against members of ACORN five days before the November 2006 mid-term elections. Schlozman came under criticism for breaking with longstanding Justice Department policy against bringing voting related charges so close to an election.

Schlozman testified before a Senate committee in 2007 that he received approval to file the voter registration fraud charges from a Justice Department ethics official. He later changed his testimony, was accused of perjury and was the subject of a federal investigation. The Justice Department, however, recently declined to prosecute Schlozman on allegations that he lied to Congress.

Earlier this year, a Justice Department watchdog investigation concluded that Schlozman broke the law by considering political and ideological affiliations in deciding who can serve in the civil rights division, where Schlozman supervised civil rights and voting rights attorneys from 2003 to 2006.

“My tentative plans are to gerrymander all of those crazy libs right out of the section,” Schlozman said in a 2003 e-mail. “I too get to work with mold spores, but here in Civil Rights, we call them Voting Section attorneys,” he told a friend. Schlozman said, according to a DOJ watchdog report released in January, that it was his desire to rid the DOJ of the “Democrats” and “liberals” because they were “disloyal” and replace them with “real Americans” and “right-thinking Americans.”

Though the Republican war against ACORN contributed to the “prosecutor-gate” scandal, GOP operatives carried the fight into the 2008 presidential campaign seizing on some ACORN employees who apparently were padding their registration numbers by submitting bogus forms with fake names like “Mickey Mouse.”

For its part, ACORN has insisted that its own quality control flagged many of the suspicious registration forms before they were submitted to state officials and that state laws often require outside registration groups to submit all forms regardless of obvious problems.

Independent studies also have shown that phony registrations rarely result in illegally cast ballots because there are so many other safeguards built into the system.

For instance, from October 2002 to September 2005, a total of 70 people were convicted for federal election related crimes, according to figures compiled by the New York Times last year. Only 18 of those were for ineligible voting.

Exaggerating a Problem

That figure — 70 people — appears in a misleading report released July 23, a little more than a month before the ACORN videos were broadcast on Fox News. The report was prepared by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform.

The report – entitled “Is ACORN Intentionally Structured As a Criminal Enterprise?” – cited,  among other material, several dozen published reports from right-wing news organizations, including Fox News’ Glenn Beck, and, whose proprietor, Andrew Breitbart, worked closely with Beck and the filmmakers of the ACORN video, to demonstrate that the organization has engaged in widespread criminal acts related to voter fraud, tax evasion and racketeering.

An in-depth search on Google and Lexis to support Issa’s claims that all 70 people he cited worked specifically for ACORN and were convicted of crimes does not turn up evidence – other than Issa’s claims – which had gone viral and were picked up by right-wing echo chamber of news organizations, talk radio and bloggers.

The actual conviction numbers Issa cites in his report don’t add up to 70 and those cases weren’t all convictions. Additionally, Issa cites employees who were charged or arrested on suspicion of registering bogus names on voter registration cards but it’s unclear whether they were ever convicted.

According to an Oct. 18, 2008, report in, “Neither ACORN nor its employees have been found guilty of, or even charged with, casting fraudulent votes,” although “several ACORN canvassers have been found guilty of faking registration forms and others are being investigated. But the evidence that has surfaced so far shows they faked forms to get paid for work they didn’t do, not to stuff ballot boxes.

Indeed, the cases suggest that ACORN was the intended victim of the attempted fraud, in that the phony registration forms were part of an effort by employees to exaggerate their work product.

“No evidence has yet surfaced to show that the ACORN employees who submitted fraudulent registration forms intended to pave the way for illegal voting. Rather, they were trying to get paid by ACORN for doing no work. Dan Satterberg, the Republican prosecuting attorney in King County, Wash., where the largest ACORN case to date was prosecuted, said that the indicted ACORN employees were shirking responsibility, not plotting election fraud.”

The report was prepared after Republican presidential candidate John McCain jumped on the anti-ACORN bandwagon, citing it at the third presidential debate. He declared ACORN “is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.”

Web Ad

The McCain-Palin campaign put out a web ad titled “ACORN,” which carried the verbal endorsement of McCain.

The ad asked “Who is Barack Obama? A man with ‘a political baptism performed at warp speed.’ Vast ambition. After college, he moved to Chicago. Became a community organizer. There, Obama met Madeleine Talbot, part of the Chicago branch of ACORN. He was so impressive that he was asked to train the ACORN staff.

“What did ACORN in Chicago engage in? Bullying banks. Intimidation tactics. Disruption of business. ACORN forced banks to issue risky home loans. The same types of loans that caused the financial crisis we’re in today.

“No wonder Obama’s campaign is trying to distance him from the group, saying, ‘Barack Obama Never Organized with ACORN.’ But Obama’s ties to ACORN run long and deep. He taught classes for ACORN. They even endorsed him for President.

“But now ACORN is in trouble.”

The motive of Republicans in escalating the war on ACORN was suggested by a line in Rep. Issa’s report – to delegitimize Obama. On page five, the report states: “Documents provided by former ACORN employees and contained in this report demonstrate the degree to which ACORN and ACORN affiliates organized to elect President Barack Obama in 2008.”

A parallel between today’s ACORN attacks and those during Campaign 2008 is how the major U.S. news media mostly ignored the connections to the “prosecutor-gate” case. Last year, the press focused on anecdotes like Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo’s name showing up on one registration form.

The McCain campaign’s attempt to politicize ACORN – and hype the danger of voter fraud – also paralleled the allegations made by Republicans during the final days of Campaign 2004.

In October 2004, Marc Racicot, chairman of the Bush-Cheney 2004 presidential campaign, called on Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry to demand that ACORN and other voter registration groups stop engaging in voter registration fraud. Racicot said these registration efforts would “ultimately paralyze the effective ability of Americans to be able to vote in the next election.”

Media Campaign

Two weeks before the 2004 presidential election, Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie and Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett announced the formation of a media campaign to counter what they claimed was voter registration fraud in nine Ohio counties.

“The reports of voter fraud in Ohio are some of the most alarming in the nation,” Gillespie said on Oct. 20, 2004.

In some ways the attacks on ACORN for allegedly signing up phony voters served as a cover for Republican efforts to purge real voters from the voting roles, a tactic that became infamous in the battleground states of Florida and Ohio.

In Florida, another battleground state in the 2004, President Bush’s brother Jeb was governor and the state’s Department of Law launched a statewide probe into voter registration fraud just two weeks before the presidential election. A press release from the Department of Law cited ACORN, which registered more than 212,000 new voters in the state.

In the two weeks before Election 2004, GOP officials raised similar concerns in Colorado, Minnesota, New Mexico and Pennsylvania.

Now, having finally succeeded in dealing a severe blow to ACORN with the undercover videos, Republicans are trying to expand the stain to Obama. In a speech on the House floor on Thursday, Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, calle Obama “the star of ACORN, the lead, chief organizer…He walks with them all the way through.”

King then demanded that every House committee launch an investigation into ACORN and criticized as “a lame little announcement” that the Justice Department will look into the group’s activities.

At least two Democratic lawmakers, however, want to find out how the congressional backlash against ACORN will impact the low-income families and individuals the organization assists.

In a two-page letter sent Wednesday to Daniel Mullhollan, director of the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the investigative arm of Congress, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers and Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services, requested CRS to “research and issue a comprehensive report concerning proposed and pending Congressional and other activity related” to ACORN.

“Because of the recent charges and countercharges that have been leveled at ACORN and various proposals for action, we believe it is important that CRS conduct a careful and objective analysis of a number of issues concerning ACORN,” the letter says.

Specifically, Conyers and Frank want CRS to provide details about the “pending and proposed [civil, criminal, congressional, and internal] investigations” into ACORN as well as requests for probes by lawmakers; details about the federal funds ACORN has received from various government agencies over the past five years; a description “of all instances, if any where ACORN violated the terms of its federal funding”; and the extent to which ACORN has helped place homeless and low-income families into homes.

Additionally, Conyers and Frank want the report to include details about the impact on elections from phony voter registration forms ACORN employees have filled out, and whether the undercover videos taken earlier this year at a few ACORN offices violated federal and state wiretapping laws.

Lastly, CRS was asked to determine whether the “Defund ACORN Act,” an amendment sponsored by Issa, that passed the House last week and other pieces of legislation aimed at specifically stripping ACORN of federal funds is unconstitutional or “would represent an unlawful bill of attainder.”

The claim that the “Defund ACORN Act” represented a bill-of-attainder violation was mentioned by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, last week after the passage of the amendment.

“The Constitution says that Congress shall never pass a Bill of Attainder,” Nadler said during a floor speech after last week’s vote. “Bills of Attainder, no matter what their form, apply either to a named individual or to easily ascertainable members of a group, to inflict punishment. That’s exactly what this amendment does.

“It may be that ACORN is guilty of various infractions, and, if so, it ought to be vetted, or maybe sanctioned, by the appropriate administrative agency or by the judiciary. Congress must not be in the business of punishing individual organizations or people without trial.”

Article Tools:  Print   Email

27 Responses for “Karl Rove And The Republican War Against ACORN”

  1. kathy says:

    You might also want to read this report.
    “Manipulating the Public Agenda: Why ACORN was in the news, and what the news got wrong.”

  2. JupiterSuite says:

    Kathy, you may want to actually watch the ACORN videos in full and then get back to us.

    “There are times when, no matter how much you like them, you need to throw one of your own off the bus. Democrats need to recognize that this is one of those times. There is no upside to defending the indefensible. All it does is throw your credibility after theirs.”

  3. Give a Republican Representative or political operative a literal or FIGURATIVE gun — or even just a liberal gun law — and he’ll shoot himself in the foot every time.

    This is getting to be worse than that social club scene in “Goodfellas.”

  4. AS per

    JupiterSuite says:
    September 25, 2009 at 9:56 am

    Kathy, you may want to actually watch the ACORN videos in full and then get back to us.

    Hey, Jupe,

    I’m a video producer. There’s nothing you can’t fabricate on video today. Want to prove that George Washington was a female impersonator? Just roll the videotape.

    Fortunately, we don’t have to produce a videotape to know the character of non-credible troll blog postings by right wing noise machine echo boxes.

  5. PJBurke says:

    JupiterSuite says to Kathy: “you may want to actually watch the ACORN videos in full and then get back to us.”

    Translation: ‘You should fall for the same bogus bafflegab that I did.’

    Well, Fat Planet…. clearly a crime was committed: by the videographers.

    One of the fundamentals of a society governed by law (not men) is that no one gets to pick just those laws which they like and adhere to those, while ignoring or violating those laws which they don’t like or agree with.

    The ACORN employees broke no laws. The entire narrative offered by the videographer-actors was fake… fictional. The violation of laws prohibiting secret videotaping of others, however, was very real… and those videos now become solid, irrefutable evidence of ‘conservative’ criminality… a sociopathological indifference to law itself which is widely shared by those on the so-called ‘Right’ (which is everything but).

    It is illuminating that there is STILL no noise — not a peep, anywhere — from Reich Wing bloviators or their hicksheep parrots with regard to Blackwater, or DynCor, or Triple Canopy, or Halliburton, or KBR (et. al.) and all of the documented, actual crimes committed by those corporations.

    One has to ask why it is that your crowd only seems to care about such things when alleged to have been committed by brown-skinned Democrats… and then, a mere allegation — with no substance or verification — is plenty whereas solid evidence — even a criminal conviction — is insufficient when the crime is committed by a criminal operation like Blackwater, run by a Caucasion like Erik Prince.

    Well done article, Jason… Kathy’s suggestion on the Martin-Dreier study is a good one IMHO. More than a supplementary addition, it discusses the agenda-setting & issue-framing pattern which these conservative media smear-farces seem to follow… and how they migrate, unexamined and unchallenged, into the mainstream media Maybe there is something predictive to be teased out of all this… some way to see these conservo-thugs and muggers coming before they smear again.

  6. well said PJ and PT!

  7. Oh and thank you so much for the kind words PJ. I appreciate that very much! And while I am at it, thanks to Kathy for the link to the report. Valuable resource! A story in its own right that I will put together

  8. PlacitasRoy says:

    Unfortunately, the Slime Boating of ACORN is complete. They will never be rehabiliated. Facts don’t matter to these bastards. Fairness does not matter to the bastards. Truth does not matter to these bastards.

    ACORN should take a page from Blackwater PR playbook – Change names!

    The Reich-wing hate merchants are now on to an old video of little kids singing a “Black History Mon

    Nobth’ tribute to President Obama.

  9. Stephen W. Davis says:

    Thanks for your excellent reporting, Jason. The double standard with respect to right wing criminality vs allegations of liberal crime is comparable to a cultural fact that few seem to appreciate. When was the last time you heard of a “left wing militia” in this country? The right wing is characterized not only by vulgarity, violence and thuggery but by it’s ability to gain center stage by accusing others of far lesser crimes to greater fanfare, as you so aptly described. Where, oh where is the socialist left wing liberal mainstream media?

  10. Thanks so much, Stephen for your kind words and for taking the time to read this lengthy report. I agree with you and I think that if the left had just as powerful a media as the right-wing has than perhaps the Democrats–and the public–would have reacted differently if they understood that Rove and his Republican operatives targeted ACORN as far back as 2002. At the very least, the mainstream media should provide some context.

  11. charles mcgee says:

    Neither the problems of Blackwater nor the troubles of Karl Rove can alter the history of ACORN. It had its beginning working with rural low and moderate income Whites. To suggest that it has an ability to damage urbanites is a mischaracterization. What ACORN was able to do was access the public treasuries. Many organizations of longstanding have not been able to accomplish that task. The National Urban League, founded in 1909, has never been in that slot. Projecting itself as an advocacy organization, it, in fact, became a contractor for the delivery of social services. With the amount of money involved could the public sector purchased more for its money? That we will never know. We only know of those organizations that succeed in getting funded, not those that do not.

    ACORN began a one point and ended up in another. I have know of ACORN since 1975 and have always spoken highly of the passion and advocacy. Their
    evolution into an entity that has corrupted itself is not good news. ALL public monies need to be returned by ACORN to the public treasuries-city, county, state and federal. ACORN did not distinguish between philosophy and ideology. They took money from any source. One does not have to be paid in order to do advocacy work.

    This is a sad end to a magnificant beginning.

  12. Jesse Hemingway says:

    Not so fast sport.
    If the Supreme Court can pick the president; congress sure in the hell can punish ACORN. Why does 18% of the United States get to embarrass the 80% majority? That 80/20 rule is everywhere

    “It may be that ACORN is guilty of various infractions, and, if so, it ought to be vetted, or maybe sanctioned, by the appropriate administrative agency or by the judiciary. Congress must not be in the business of punishing individual organizations or people without trial.”

  13. dobropet says:

    Well, the amount of money being given to this agency nevertheless will significantly free up funds sent to it:

    The ACORN scandal provides a good opportunity for citizens concerned about profligacy in Washington to explore some of the tools available to find out where their tax money goes.

    A good place to start your research is the Federal Audit Clearinghouse on the Census website. All groups receiving more than $500,000 a year from the government are required to file a report. Just type in “ACORN” as the entity and the system pops up the group’s filings. My assistant John Nelson summarized the federal programs and amounts received by ACORN in recent years:


    Housing Counseling Assistance $1,168,388

    Community Development Block Grants $388,273

    Home Investment Partnership $8,000

    Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity $204,082

    Fair Housing Initiatives Program $85,000

    Total $1,853,743


    Housing Counseling Assistance $2,209,009

    Community Development Block Grants $221,007

    Home Investment Partnership Program $21,092

    Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity $127,183

    Fair Housing Initiatives Program $105,000

    Total $2,683,291


    Housing Counseling Assistance $2,605,558

    Community Development Block Grants $367,560

    Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity $153,082

    Fair Housing Initiatives Program $140,917

    Total $3,267,117


    Housing Counseling Assistance $1,955,074

    Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity $59,541

    Rural Housing and Economic Development $47,619

    Fair Housing Initiatives Program $150,000

    Community Development Block Grants $238,809

    Total $2,451,043


    Housing Counseling Assistance $1,813,011

    Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity $46,608

    Rural Housing and Economic Development $30,504

    Fair Housing Initiatives Program $60,000

    Community Development Block Grants $372,950

    Total $2,323,073

    My colleague, Tad DeHaven, has discussed why these HUD programs that funded ACORN ought to be abolished completely.

    Subsidy information is also available from IRS Form 990, which is filed by all non-profit groups and compiled at Guidestar and other websites. I am not an expert on this data, but Velma Anne Ruth of ABS Community Research has done a detailed analysis, which she kindly sent to me. She finds that federal funding for ACORN was about $1.7 million in 2008 and about $2.2 million in 2009.

    Finally, a user-friendly website to research recipients of federal grants and contracts is

    ACORN’s share of overall federal subsidies is tiny, but as thousands of similar organizations have become hooked on 1,800 different federal subsidy programs, a powerful lobbying force has been created that propels the $3.6 trillion spending juggernaut. ACORN’s own website touts its lobbying success in helping to pass various big government programs. So cutting off ACORN is a start, but just a small start at the daunting task of cutting back the giant federal spending empire.

    Posted by Chris Edwards @

  14. LifeforMe says:

    Factual error:

    Article says:

    “Schlozman also filed federal criminal charges of voter fraud against members of ACORN only days before the November 2006 mid-term elections. The case was later dismissed and Schlozman came under criticism for breaking with longstanding Justice Department policy against bringing voter fraud charges close to an election.”

    The facts:

    The case was not dismissed. In fact, the opposite happened. All four of the defendants in that case pled guilty to voter registration fraud. So it was hardly a purely political indictment as a crime was clearly committed. Moreover, it was not exactly Scholzman vs. ACORN in this case. ACORN itself had discovered that its paid campaign workers were submitted bogus voter registration forms, thus trying to get paid for the bogus registrations, and ACORN itself turned the workers in to the Feds. So hardly a case of Schlozman prosecuting “members of ACORN” as the article suggests. ACORN turned in its own workers for the fraud.

    As for the timing of the indictments, Schlozman testified, and nobody at the Justice Department has ever refuted, that he checked with the Public Integrity section at main Justice before filing this lawsuit. Since the case was about voter registration fraud, and not about indictments against individual voters, the “policy” in question did not apply. “The policy is designed to prevent the DOJ from intimidating voters from voting, not to prevent them from prosecuting canvassers from submitting bogus registrations. Again, no Justice Department official was ever asked, nor has one ever gone on record, to refute Schlozman’s claim on this point.

    Interesting article, but the one area I know a lot about (the Missouri ACORN indictments) seems to be off on the actual facts. It makes me leary of the accuracy of the rest of the piece.

  15. LifeforMe: thank you for taking the time to point this out to me.

  16. LifeforMe says:


    Wow, thanks. You improved the piece and corrected that inaccuracy. I’m impressed. I will point out that you quoted the Boston Globe saying, “Schlozman moved fast, so fast that his office got one of the names on the indictments wrong,”

    The fact is that one of the names on the indictment was wrong. That is true. But saying it was because Schlozman “moved so fast” is a bit deceptive. This fact was used by the Boston Globe as further evidence that Schlozman was in a rush to get the indictments handed down before the election. But if you know the real story, Schlozman’s error on the indictment doesn’t really seem nearly as sinister.

    In is testimony before Congress, Schlozman addressed this, and pointed out that one of the ACORN defendends was using a false identiy, and in fact was subsequently indicted on both voter registration fraud **and** identity theft, and plead guilty to both. That defendent used somebody elses SSN to get the job with ACORN and Schlozman’s office erroneously named the wrong person in the indictment. It was a mistake for sure, but probably not a politically motivated error. They corrected the indictment and convicted the right person.

    Secondary sources, like the Boston Globe, just aren’t nearly as reliable as researching real primary sources. A truly balanced and neutral report states the full story and lets the reader (or editorial writer) decide if there was a sinister motive.

  17. LifeforMe: It has been established that Schlozman politicized his work at DOJ and that includes the prosecution of the ACORN workers. While I am very appreciative for you pointing out the error regarding the fact that the case against the employees was not dismissed as I erroneously stated I disagree with your assessment about Schlozman and the circumstances that led to the indictments and what Schlozman testified about. In fact, you appear to be exaggerating the seriousness of this issue. We are talking about four–FOUR–indictments for voter registration fraud involving SIX people. And you stating that he did not move quickly to secure indictments is an opinion, it is not fact. It’s important to note that ACORN registered about tens of thousands of people in Missouri during this time. This is hardly a national scandal or demonstrative of widespread voter fraud as Republicans had claimed. Moreover, Schlozman testified about this and then changed his testimony about his decision to prosecute before the election and pinned the blame on the DOJ.

    During his Senate testimony, Schlozman testified 10 times that he brought the indictments against ACORN “at the direction” of Craig Donsanto, the director of the Election Crimes Branch in the Public Integrity Section. He then changed his testimony after questions were raised internally at the DOJ about the veracity of his claims and as a result was close to be indicted for perjury, which Holder decided not to pursue. He changed his testimony to state:

    “As required by Section 9-85.210 of the U.S. Attorney’s Manual, at my direction, the Assistant United States Attorney assigned to the case consulted with the Election Crimes Branch prior to the filing of the indictments. I want to be clear that, while I relied on the consultation with, and suggestions of, the Election Crimes Branch in bringing the indictments when I did, I take full responsibility for the decision to move forward with the prosecutions related to ACORN while I was the interim U.S. Attorney.”

    Sen. Patrick Leahy said in response to Schlozman’s reversal:

    “It is deeply troubling that after weeks of preparation Mr. Schlozman appears to have misled the Committee and the public about his decision to file an election eve lawsuit in direct conflict with longstanding Justice Department policy.

    “I asked him repeatedly about this case at the hearing because of concerns that it was done to use law enforcement power improperly to affect the outcome of the election, which is the reason the Department instituted the policy as a safeguard against such manipulation.

    “This Justice Department and this Administration already suffer from a severe credibility crisis, and learning that yet another senior official was less than forthcoming during his testimony before Congress does little to restore any of the lost trust or eroding confidence in their leadership. It is difficult to get to the facts when Administration officials fail to come clean, but the Committee will continue to pursue the truth behind this matter.”

    It is the belief of many career USA’s, including David Iglesias, John McKay and Todd Graves, that this was a politically motivated move and hardly representative of a national scandal as the Republicans had claimed and continue to claim.

  18. Lastly, LifeforMe, and readers of this report keep in mind that last January, a Justice Department watchdog investigation concluded that Schlozman broke the law by considering political and ideological affiliations in deciding who can serve in the civil rights division, where Schlozman supervised civil rights and voting rights attorneys from 2003 to 2006.

    “My tentative plans are to gerrymander all of those crazy libs right out of the section,” Schlozman said in a 2003 e-mail. “I too get to work with mold spores, but here in Civil Rights, we call them Voting Section attorneys,” he told a friend. Schlozman said, according to a DOJ watchdog report released in January, that it was his desire to rid the DOJ of the “Democrats” and “liberals” because they were “disloyal” and replace them with “real Americans” and “right-thinking Americans.”

  19. Mark says:

    To Jason Leopold: I recently read your above article Karl Rove & the GOP’s 5 Year War on ACORN along with David Swanson recent article: An Insider’s view of ACORN, which along with some other articles put this whole ACORN as public enemy #1 by the hard-core FOX Noise [‘news’] crowd in perspective [especially right after the same crowd succeeded in going after Van Jones]. So when I came across the WPost article this past Sun 9/27/09 by Binyamin Applebaum- ‘Fed Held Back as Evidence Mounted on Subprime Loan Abuses’, which SEEMED informative but failed to mention that ACORN was one of the main groups the warned the FED about subprime predatory lenders [IE: Household Finance, Wells Fargo, etc] targeting Blacks & Browns- a glaring omission [but only after reading your & other recent articles about ACORN’s past Good Works- certainly not in the Corp run News Media IE: WPost] that I felt I had to respond to directly Mr Applebaum which I’ve attached below:
    {Your article on the FED’s failure to act on Subprime Evidence- is both good information but also disinformation [by omission] at the same time, because it fails to mention that one of the community groups at the fore-front of warning the FED about subprime lenders’ targeting & exploiting Black & Brown People was ACORN. It was ACORN that took Household Finance to court due to its exploitive subprime lending- & won [Note: 9/26/09 David Swanson- Insider’s View of ACORN]. The Corp run News Media [IE: WPost] also failed to report that Bushites Rove & Gonzales fired those 9 US Attnys when they refused to falsely persecute ACORN- due to lack of evidence of wrong doing [Note: 9/25/09 Jason Leopold- Karl Rove & the GOP’s 5 Year War on ACORN]. The recent uproar against ACORN in the wake of that ‘Gotcha’ video [even though that same ‘pimp & prostitute’ were kicked out of at least 25 other ACORN offices, & that the hidden video may actually have violated MD state law], is reminiscent of last year’s ‘prostitute scandal’ involving former NY Gov Spitzer which the Corp run New Media [IE: WPost] focused on [Its interesting that apparently Spitzer was not criminally charged], while the fact that he was investigating Wall St Bankster’s SCANDULOUS dealings months before the total financial collapse, some how never got reported. Also note-worthy is that hard-core FOX Noise [‘news’] types are pushing the lie [line] smearing ACORN as a ‘Thug’ organization [IE: street gang]. This of course is a typical stereotype used to portray Black & Brown people as criminals, & it smacks of Racism.}

  20. Bear says:

    @public takeover
    I suppose then that Rodney King incident never occurred because someone fabricated that on video.
    Also, I believe JFK could still be alive with your theory.

  21. Mark,
    what a fantastic letter! Thank you so much for sending it over and for taking the time to read this report and being moved into action. Well done!

  22. LifeforMe says:

    Jason, first let me thank you for engaging me in a dialog on this subject. I very much appreciate to discuss issues with the authors of pieces such as yours. More often than not, authors write pieces and move on to the next issue without the openness and willingness to debate and consider commentary.

    Next, you are ascribing statements to me I did not make. You say that my opinion “stat[ed] that [Schlozman] did not move quickly to secure indictments.” But I never said anything of the sort. All I suggested was that you added a Boston Globe quote to your story (which you have now subsequently removed) that used a carefully selected fact as damning proof of the paper’s opinion all the while omitting some key factual details. I never said that Schlozman’s indictments weren’t rushed, just that the factual evidence cited by your story (and the Globe) didn’t do a good job of backing that claim.

    My opinion is that the detail and color you have now added to the Missouri ACORN indictments in what now seems to be the third revision is, on balance, an improvement to the piece. Though I think you have done a disservice by explaining that Schlozman’s case against Carnahan was dismissed while conveniently omitting the fact that his case against the ACORN canvassers led to guilty pleas and convictions.

    Likewise, I am curious to know the source for your statement in your recent reply to me that, “[Schlozman] then changed his testimony after questions were raised internally at the DOJ about the veracity of his claims and as a result was close to be indicted for perjury, which Holder decided not to pursue.” Because that suggests that he “changed” his testimony only after he was “close” to being indicted for perjury. I would like to know your source for this information

    The facts as I understand them are as follows: Schlozman testified before Congress on June 5, 2007. Now I don’t know what he prepared in advance, or what questions he was told to be ready to answer. I do know that Schlozman stated that he was directed to file the Missouri ACORN lawsuits by Craig Donsanto of DOJ’s Public Integrity Section. However, Schlozman made a written submission to the Committee — while the record for the hearing was still open — clarifying his testimony (or changing it if you will) dated June 11. That’s just 6 days later. Again, while the record was still open. The Committee could have recalled him to grill him further on this point but they didn’t. You are suggesting that Schlozman knew, in those six intervening days, that he was close to being indicted for perjury. Seems unlikely, seeing that the record for the hearing was still open. Still, if that’s the case, cite your source.

    It is true, that months later, in March 2008, the DOJs Inspector General referred Schlozman’s testimony to the US Attorney for DC for a perjury investigation. But Schlozman clarified or corrected his testimony almost immediately after he stated it. As far as I can tell, the first record of any perjury referral on Schlozman happened 6 months after he “corrected” his testimony, and not because he “was close” to being indicted for perjury as you state.

    Of course, we now know that the DOJ declined to prosecute Schlozman for perjury not once, but twice! (you fail to mention this in the article). Two separate independent reviews by career (not political) prosecutors — one review by the US Atty for DC and a second by AG Holder’s staff — both concluded that Schlozman made no statements that rose to the level of perjury that were prosecutable. But both of those reviews happened months and now years after Schlozman both testified and clarified his testimony.

    So in your comments, and somewhat less so in the article now, you are asserting that Schlozman changed his testimony ***only after*** he was about to be accused of perjury. I would like to know your source for this information. It seems to fly in the face of the facts.

  23. LifeforMe: I should have worded that sentence(s) better. I had not intended to imply in my comment that Schlozman changed his testimony because he was of any perjury indictment. Rather, what I intended to state before mangling my own comment was that after Schlozman stated TEN TIMES that he filed the indictments “at the direction” of Craig Donsanto. The veracity of Schlozman’s statement was then called into question, largely due to the fact that Donsanto was the author of the guidelines discouraging investigations of this nature so close to an election. Schlozman then changed his testimony to read in part:

    “As required by Section 9-85.210 of the U.S. Attorney’s Manual, at my direction, the Assistant United States Attorney assigned to the case consulted with the Election Crimes Branch prior to the filing of the indictments. I want to be clear that, while I relied on the consultation with, and suggestions of, the Election Crimes Branch in bringing the indictments when I did, I take full responsibility for the decision to move forward with the prosecutions related to ACORN while I was the interim U.S. Attorney.”

  24. Finally, Bloomberg reported at the time:

    “The explanation, which Schlozman repeated at least nine times during the June 5 hearing, infuriated public integrity lawyers, who say it implied the section ordered him to prosecute, said two Justice Department officials. Public integrity attorneys handle sensitive cases involving politicians and judges and pride themselves on staying out of political disputes.”

  25. LifeforMe says:


    My opinion on the Schlozman Missouri ACORN prosecutions is that they were appropriate and done by the book. Bottom line: It is an undisputed fact Schlozman asked for, and received permission to proceed with the indictments, from the non-political Public Integrity section of the Department Justice.


    ACORN itself reported its own workers to the government.

    Schlozman checked with the non-political ethics group in Washington to make sure that the timing of his prosecution before the election was appropriate.

    Craig Donsanto, the guy who wrote the actual manual on DOJ policy regarding timing of election crime prosecutions, gave Schlozman the green light to proceed with the prosecution, even on the eve of the November election. Donsanto told Schlozman that his prosecution did not implicate DOJ policies because individual voters were not being interviewed, investigated or indicted. Schlozman actually was asked point blank by Senator Schumer if Donsanto either ordered or told Schlozman it was ok to proceed with the ACORN prosecutions on the eve of the election. Schlozman confirmed that he had received such direction by Donsanto. Neither Donsanto nor DOJ, nor any other government official has ever disputed that Schlozman had approval from the non-political Public Integrity Section to proceed with the prosecution as planned. Moreover, Schlozman was not accused of perjury on this point by anyone.

    All of the Missouri ACORN defendants pled guilty to voter registration fraud.

    Those seem to be the facts, and they seem to be undisputed. Now here’s what I think. Schlozman’s prosecution of the ACORN defendants was not only “by the book,” but he had an ethical obligation to proceed with the indictments before the election if the indictments were ready to proceed (as they were).

    The Democratic Senators made a big deal that Schlozman’s election eve prosecution would influence the outcome of the election and thus should not have been brought. But I think that Schlozman was a coward on this point. If our government has information that rightfully influence **how** voters should vote, they actually have a moral imperative to disclose that information **before** the election and not withhold it until afterwards. Voters are entitled, in my view, to transparency of our government. So if the government has relevant information that can sway our vote, then we have a right to know. That’s almost a basic civics 101 lesson in our democracy.

    The DOJ policies on pre-election prosecutions are to prevent government prosecutors from intimidating, influencing, or otherwise interfering with the *exercise* of the right to vote. The DOJs policies are designed to prevent prosecutors from interviewing voters, indicting voters or conducting other investigatory actions that could have the effect or even the appearance of dissuading even one voter to cast their ballot. The DOJ’s policies are about preserving and protecting the franchise.

    The DOJ polices in this regard are not about protecting the *outcome* of the election. To the contrary, if anything, when the government has information that could be perceived as relevant to how voters are going to vote, then the government should be obligated to release that information.

    I feel Schlozman should have faced the Judiciary Committee that day and told them that he felt that the prosecutions of the four ACORN workers *were* relevant to the outcome election. He should have said that he felt that the voters of Missouri were entitled to know that the government believed voter registration fraud took place in their state, and that the citizens were entitled to consider that information as they saw fit before heading into the ballot box. Schlozman should have defended the people’s right to know what the government knows as long as there is no chance it will interfere or improperly influence anyone’s right to exercise the vote itself. Schlozman rightfully testified, in my view, that the ACORN prosecutions would have no effect on anyone’s willingness, ability, or likelihood to go or not go to the polls.

    That ACORN of Missouri had canvassers who submitted bogus voter registration forms to the extent that they committed a voter registration crime is relevant information that the voters of the election have a right to know about *before* they cast their ballots. The government should not sit on that information until after the election.

    If I recall correctly, 4 or 5 Bush cabinet members resigned within 2 weeks after his re-election to a second term. My view is that if those cabinet members intended to resign upon his re-election, they had an ethical obligation to disclose that intent to voters before the election. Because the intended mass resignations of a president’s cabinet is relevant information that voters have a right to know about before they cast their ballots. Holding the resignation decision until days after the election is, in my view, unethical.

    Either we have transparency in government or we do not.

  26. refugio rodriguez says:

    Karl Rove should consider himself lucky he was not prosecuted for the misdeeds he commited. He ought to be in the gensis book of records for the greatest manipulater.

Leave a Reply

Article Tools:  Print   Email
Copyright © 2008 The Public Record. All rights reserved. Branding services provided by Quantcast