Examiner Editorial: Congress should take initiative on ACORN

When the leaders of organizations tell employees not to cooperate with FBI investigators, they usually have something to hide. This is especially true when the organization in question is the infamous Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now, or ACORN. Folks may have thought ACORN was out of business by now, thanks to those sensational videos made public last year of its employees advising two associates of Internet journalist Andrew Breitbart on how to get around laws against tax evasion, child prostitution and illegal immigration. Since the pimp and prostitute videos, ACORN officials have used a tactic familiar to shady operators posing as Persian rug salesmen, home remodelers and roof repairers: Change the business name on the door and keep right on ripping off the unwary.

That’s why, as Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton explains on washingtonexaminer.com, “today ACORN is alive and well, splintered into rebranded local chapters across the country.” Fitton should know because he and his small but famously spunky staff have been poring over hundreds of documents they’ve obtained in recent months from court records and Freedom of Information Act requests concerning the multiple federal and state criminal investigations that have been conducted in recent years of ACORN and its most frequent partner in crime, Project Vote. What they’ve found is mountains of evidence indicating a long-running joint effort by ACORN and Project Vote to subvert laws against voter registration fraud.

Federal investigators in St. Louis noted, for example, that Missouri ACORN/Project Vote workers were instructed not to talk to the FBI. Investigators quoted in documents reviewed by Judicial Watch also claimed in short-hand notes that “ACORN hqt wkg for the Democratic Party.” They also found evidence of physical threats against ACORN/Project Vote workers who cooperated with the FBI, and the routine use of names taken from the telephone book being used on fraudulent voter registration cards. All of these acts are criminal felonies that can result in multiple jail terms for convicted offenders.

Despite the evidence, however, President Barack Obama’s Justice Department shut down the federal probes in March 2009. Fitton suggests that DOJ’s lack of interest in pursuing the ACORN/Project Vote investigation is explained by Obama’s long relationship with the two groups. That relationship is reflected in this quote from Obama that appeared on his presidential campaign website in 2008: “I’ve been fighting alongside ACORN on issues you care about my entire career. Even before I was an elected official, when I ran Project Vote voter registration drive in Illinois, ACORN was smack dab in the middle of it, and we appreciate your work.” To remove all possible doubts about Obama’s impartiality on this issue, he should appoint a special prosecutor. And if Obama refuses, the new Congress that convenes in January 2011 should appoint its own prosecutor.

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