The call, which is taking place right now, pertains to the testimony of ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief in the Pennsylvania state court.
The FBI is investigating its voter registration efforts in several states, amid allegations that almost a third of the 1.3 million cards it turned in are invalid. And yesterday, a former employee of Acorn testified in a Pennsylvania state court that the group’s quality-control efforts were “minimal or nonexistent” and largely window dressing. Anita MonCrief also says that Acorn was given lists of potential donors by several Democratic presidential campaigns, including that of Barack Obama, to troll for contributions.
The Obama campaign denies it “has any ties” to Acorn, but Mr. Obama’s ties are extensive. In 1992 he headed a registration effort for Project Vote, an Acorn partner at the time. He did so well that he was made a top trainer for Acorn’s Chicago conferences. In 1995, he represented Acorn in a key case upholding the constitutionality of the new Motor Voter Act — the first law passed by the Clinton administration — which created the mandated, nationwide postcard voter registration system that Acorn workers are using to flood election offices with bogus registrations.
Ms. MonCrief testified that in November 2007 Project Vote development director Karyn Gillette told her she had direct contact with the Obama campaign and had obtained their donor lists. Ms. MonCrief also testified she was given a spreadsheet to use in cultivating Obama donors who had maxed out on donations to the candidate, but who could contribute to voter registration efforts. Project Vote calls the allegation “absolutely false.”
She says that when she had trouble with what appeared to be duplicate names on the list, Ms. Gillette told her she would talk with the Obama campaign and get a better version. Ms. MonCrief has given me copies of the donor lists she says were obtained from other Democratic campaigns, as well as the 2004 DNC donor lists.
In her testimony, Ms. MonCrief says she was upset by Acorn’s “Muscle for Money” program, which she said intimidated businesses Acorn opposed into paying “protection” money in the form of grants. Acorn’s Brian Kettering says the group only wants to change corporate behavior: “Acorn is proud of its corporate campaigns to stop abuses of working families.”
Here are my notes from the call:
“Among the many questions the testimony raises,
How did ACORN get the list from the Obama campaign? Who in the campaign was the contact person for ACORN?
Why do we have to learn about this from organizations outside the news media, such as the court system?
Why is Obama not held accountable for not telling the truth about his relationship with ACORN?”
Ron Clayborne, ABC news: Is your only evidence the testimony of Ms MontCrief?
A: Yes, she testified that they were in direct contact with the Obama campaign, and they were given spreadsheets and funds to use in the registration effort. It was important to note that Ms MontCrief is a senior staffer within the ACORN organization, and that the Project Vote organization has a long-standing tie with Barack Obama, and he worked for them in the past…Karen Gillette used to work for secretary of state Brunner in Ohio and they’ve had problems with registrations in Ohio, and the web of connections continues to increase.
Q: What do you see ACORN’s role in Florida?
A: Not aware of ACORN activity in Florida, but they claim over 1.2 million registrations nationwide, 1/3 fraudulent, 1/3 repetitive. Ms MontCrief claims that training is inadequate and when people complain they get thrown under the bus. When ACORN responds to accusations, it’s never ACORN’s fault, but the individuals doing the registrations. In Florida, Governor Christ has always worked hard to make sure the registration system is clean, unlike in Ohio, where there are a lot of issues with registrations.
Q. Chuck Ross from Gannett: Obama campaign’s ad with Bush in McCain’s rearview mirror:
A: Let me flip it around & ask about Obama’s motivation on this. The most bankrupt argument in this campaign is the effort to make John McCain look like George Bush’s running mate. In many issues, the economy, war in Iraq, pushing back on the legal jeopardy of captives in the war on terror, the argument just doesn’t hold water. I think it’s a desperate attempt in the part of Obama. You really have to be desperate to attack McCain’s & Palin’s relationships, while saying that Obama should not be held accountable for his associations with Ayers, and Khalidi and others.
Q. Michael Barone, US News: Tracking polls showing progress. What futher information can you give us?
A: There’s no question that there’s a closing in this campaign, and in battleground states. Suburban men are coming to the campaign. McCain has striken a chord on the Obama redistributive policies. From our perspective it’s interesting and instructive to see the places Obama is going to, and he’s going to our core state. Where Obama goes, we’ve been going up. There are a number of states we see bouncing back, Nevada and New Mexico, with larger Hispanic margins there.