ACORN responds | Arkansas Blog

Saturday, October 11, 2008

ACORN responds

Posted By on Sat, Oct 11, 2008 at 4:49 PM

It's hard to imagine John McCain will get much traction from ads trying to blame the financial meltdown on ACORN. (To borrow an old joke: That's like blaming the 1927 flood on a leaky faucet in St. Louis.) Still, it's his flavor of the day, so I thought I'd pass along ACORN's prepared response.

 ACORN Response to Senator McCain’s Smear Ad

ACORN President Maude Hurd released the following statement today in
response to the McCain campaign's new ad claiming that, among other
things, ACORN is responsible for the mortgage crisis:

”For almost a decade, ACORN, a community organization of 400,000
families in neighborhoods across the country, has been fighting against
the predatory lending practices that have robbed our members of their
homes, destabilized neighborhoods, and roiled the global economy.”

“In his newest ad, John McCain’s campaign bizarrely claims, “ACORN
forced banks to issue risky home loans, the same types of loans that
caused the financial crisis we're in today.”  Nothing could be further
from the truth.  In fact, ACORN has worked successfully to help working
class families get good home loans on fair terms from legitimate banks
and has fought vigorously against predatory lenders who have ripped off
families in our communities. These predatory loans caused the crisis.”

“For more than a decade, ACORN members have held protests, released
reports, and advocated for regulations to protect homeowners from
predatory lenders. ACORN organizers and volunteers have been working day
and night to help victims of the GOP economic meltdown to save their
homes from foreclosure. In fact, ACORN has brought class action lawsuits
against several predatory lenders, and has lobbied the Federal Reserve
and Congress in support of regulations against predatory lending. ACORN
has even been successful in convincing many lenders to treat homeowners
more fairly and help families be able to make their mortgage payments
and save their homes.”

“Unfortunately, the Bush administration and Congressional Republicans
like John McCain have blocked the sensible regulations that ACORN and
others proposed that would have averted the mortgage meltdown. If John
McCain thinks that community organizers caused the foreclosure crisis,
he knows even less about the economy than previously thought.”

”John McCain and the Republicans are desperately trying to shift the
blame for the economic crisis they caused with a philosophy of
deregulation and indifference to homeowners. All the grainy footage and
creepy music in the world can't cancel out some simple, basic facts, and
the facts about the economy are not on John McCain's side.”

###

Bogus "Voter Fraud Charges" Aim to Camouflage Voter Suppression

ACORN has just completed the largest, most successful nonpartisan voter
registration drive in US history. We helped 1.3 million low-income,
minority and young voters across the country register to vote.

Unfortunately, just as in 2006, that success in bringing people into the
democratic process, have been greeted with unfounded accusations to
disparage our work and help maintain the status quo of an unbalanced
electorate.

After a similar spate of charges against ACORN in 2006, we learned that
then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales had fired Republican US Attorneys
because they refused to prosecute ACORN and other voter assistance
groups on trumped up fraud charges. This was the heart of the US
Attorney-gate scandal that led Karl Rove, Gonzales and other top
Department of Justice officials to resign. Because the press didn’t
catch on until long after the election, it was part of a successful
strategy to create an unfounded specter of voter fraud and to suppress
voting.

Key Facts:

1. In order to help 1.3 million people register to vote, we hired more
than 13,000 registration assistance workers r. As with any business or
agency that operates at this scale, there are always some people who
want to get paid without really doing the job, or who aim to defraud
their employer. Any large department store will have some workers who
shoplift.

2. Any large voter registration operation will have a small percentage
of workers who turn in bogus registration forms, Their goal clearly is
not to cast a fraudulent vote. It is simply to defraud their employer,
ACORN, by getting a paycheck without earning it. ACORN is the victim of
this fraud – not the perpetrator.

3. In nearly every case that has been reported , it was ACORN that
discovered the bad forms, and called them to the attention of election
authorities, putting the forms in a package that identified them in
writing as suspicious, encouraging election officials to investigate,
and offering to help with prosecutions. We are required by law to turn
in all forms, but instead of just turning them in and figuring that it
is the responsibility of the board of elections to figure out which are
valid, we spend millions of dollars verifying that forms are valid, and
then separate out those that are suspicious.

4. This has nothing to do with “voter fraud” – nothing at all to do with
anyone trying to cast an extra vote. There has never been a single
reported instance in which bogus registration forms have led to anyone
voting improperly. To do that, they would have to show up at the polls,
prove their identity as all first-time registrants must, and risk jail.
The people who turned in these forms did so not because they wanted an
extra vote, but because they didn’t care enough to make sure eligible
people got to vote at all.

5. When a department store calls the police to report a shoplifting
employee, no one says the department store is guilty of consumer fraud.
But for some reason, when ACORN turns voter registration workers over to
the authorities for filling out bogus forms, it gets accused of “voter
fraud.” This is a classic case of blaming the victim; indeed, these
charges are outrageous, libelous, and often politically motivated.

6. Similar attacks were launched against ACORN and other voter
registration organizations in 2004 and 2006. The bogus charges were at
the heart of the U.S. Attorney-gate scandal that led to the resignations
of Karl Rove, Attorney General Ablerto Gonzales and other top Justice
Department Officials. It turned out that it was the charges that were
fraudulent, and that they were part of a systematic partisan agenda of
voter suppression. Republican US Attorneys David Iglesias (NM), Todd
Graves (MO), and John McKay (WA) all were fired primarily because they
refused to prosecute similar bogus charges of “voter fraud.” Another US
Attorney, Bradley Schlozman, who did politicize prosecutions against
former ACORN canvassers, was forced to acknowledge under cross
examination by the Senate Judiciary Committee that ACORN was the victim
of fraud by its employees and ACORN had caught the employees and had
identified them to law enforcement.

7. The goals of the people orchestrating these attacks are to distract
ACORN from helping people vote and to justify massive voter suppression.
That’s the real voter fraud; the noise about a small fraction of the
forms ACORN has turned in is meant to get the press and public take
their eyes off the real threat, while those hurling the charges are
stealing people’s right to vote in broad daylight. They have already
tried to prevent Ohio from registering voters at its early voting sites.
In Michigan, they planned to use foreclosure notices to challenge
thousands of voters. And if this year is like past years, they are
preparing to use this so-called voter fraud to justify massive
challenges to voters in minority precincts on Election Day.

The Details:

Fact: ACORN has implemented the most sophisticated quality-control
system in the voter engagement field but in almost every state we are
required to turn in ALL completed applications, even the ones we know to
be problematic.

Fact: ACORN flags in writing incomplete, problem, or suspicious cards
when we turn them in,. Unfortunately, some of these same officials then
come back weeks or months later and accuse us of deliberately turning in
phony cards. In many cases, we can actually prove that these are the
same cards we called to their attention.

Fact: Our canvassers are paid by the hour, not by the card . ACORN has a
zero-tolerance policy for deliberately falsifying registrations, and in
the cases where our internal quality controls have identified this
happening we have fired the workers involved and turned them in to
election officials and law-enforcement.

Fact: No criminal charges related to voter registration have ever been
brought against ACORN or partner organizations. Convictions against
individual former ACORN workers have been accomplished with our full
cooperation, using the evidence obtained through our quality control and
verification processes — evidence which in most cases WE called to the
attention of authorities

Fact: Most election officials have recognized ACORN’s good work and
praised our quality control systems. Even in the cities where election
officials have complained about ACORN, the applications in question
represent less than 1% of the thousands and thousands of registrations
ACORN has collected.

Fact: Our accusers not only fail to provide any evidence, they fail to
suggest a motive: there is virtually no chance anyone would be able to
vote fraudulently, so there is no reason to deliberately submit phony
registrations. ACORN is committed to ensuring that the greatest possible
numbers of people are registered

ACORN will not be intimidated, we will not be provoked, and in this
important moment in history we will not allow anyone to distract us from
these vital efforts to empower our constituencies and our communities to
speak for themselves.

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