Awful: ACORN Will Shut Down For Good
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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 in 2008. Only 18 of those were for ineligible voting.
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?" - cites, among other material, several dozen published reports from right-wing commentators and news organizations, including Fox News's Glenn Beck, and Breitbart.com, whose proprietor, Andrew Breitbart, worked closely with Beck and the filmmakers of the ACORN video to demonstrate the organization's involvement in widespread criminal acts related to voter fraud, tax evasion and racketeering.
In the report, Issa asserts that all 70 people he cites worked specifically for ACORN and were convicted of crimes. However, an in-depth search on Google and Lexis to support this claim does not turn up evidence; it produces only incarnations of the claim itself, which went viral and was picked up by the 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 FactCheck.org, "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 FactCheck.org 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."
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.