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Awful: ACORN Will Shut Down For Good

Following months of relentless attacks by Republicans over a manufactured scandal, the poor people's advocacy group has announced that it will permanently shut its doors.

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A May 2, 2005 email from Rove deputy Scott Jennings to Tim Griffin, another Rove protégé, said that in the fall of 2004, Bernalillo County's Republican Sheriff Darren White and New Mexico Republican Party operatives Pat Rogers and Mickey Barnett turned over hundreds of "suspected fraudulent voter registration forms" handled by ACORN workers. The email 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 whom were low-income people and minorities - groups that 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 US 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."

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 US 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 nonexistent.

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 that in late summer 2002 he received an email from the Justice Department suggesting "in no uncertain terms" that US attorneys should immediately begin working with local and state election officials "to offer whatever assistance we could in investigating and prosecuting voter fraud cases."

Pressure also came from congressional and state Republicans. In New Mexico, Barnett, Rogers and 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.