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ACORN Watch: Voter fraud and mortgage scams on your dime

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By Michelle Malkin  •  August 7, 2008 12:41 PM

Barack Obama’s taxpayer-subsidized old friends at ACORN have been very, very busy lately. And ACORN Watch is here to give you the rundown on all the latest shenanigans on your dime.

* In Milwaukee, election officials are investigating fake names registered by ACORN workers– a favorite voter fraud 101 ploy of ACORN workers. No word on whether anyone used “Fruto Boy Crispila:”

Criminal investigations could be launched against at least six voter registration workers who tried to add dead, imprisoned or imaginary people to the voter rolls, according to the Milwaukee Election Commission and the organization that employed them.

Officials are reviewing some 200 to 300 fraudulent voter registration cards, Sue Edman, the commission’s executive director, said Wednesday.

And even though the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now caught the fraud and reported it before the cards were turned in, the incident revived a four-year-old partisan debate over the integrity of Wisconsin’s voter registration process, as political groups step up efforts to sign up voters for the Nov. 4 presidential election.

“One woman called us to complain because her husband has been dead for 10 years and a voter registration was submitted,” Edman said.

In about 12 cases, deputy registrars paid by ACORN were “making people up or registering people that were still in prison,” said Carolyn Castore, ACORN’s state political director.

And in other cases, workers used the same address for numerous voters or used driver’s license numbers that did not fit the voters’ birth dates, Edman said. But most of the fraud involved submitting duplicate cards for voters who were already registered, and forging the voters’ signatures, Castore said.

ACORN found the problems and fired a dozen workers, Castore said. Five of them appeared to be working together, she added.

In New Mexico, it’s the same old story of ACORN using criminals to lead voter registration drives. KRQE reports:

ANDERSON (Anchor): If you registered to vote outside a supermarket, at a fair or even on a college campus, your information may have been collected by a criminal. News 13’s Michael Herzenberg is live in the newsplex.

MICHAEL HERZENBERG (Reporter): The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now or, ACORN, does not go door to door. But in public places they admit at times they employ criminals. They say like law abiding citizens they employ make great workers. Audrey Padilla works for the non profit organization ACORN registering people to vote.

AUDREY PADILLA: I think it’s a really powerful thing to vote.

HERZENBERG: The information she gathers on this form can be powerful if criminals get their hands on it and they have. Jeffrey Mahaffey did and he was convicted with 2 counts of raping a child, a habitual offender who stole a car. Yvonne Chacon did too – she pleaded no contest to 2 counts of forgery, 7 more counts are pending and so are 3 counts of credit card fraud. Michelle Rael also collected voter information for ACORN while under the supervision of probation and parole for drug possession and 1 count of identity theft.

RAY SCHUTLZ (APD Police Chief): It’s very alarming and very concerning to me.

HERZENBERG: We showed Albuquerque police chief Ray Shultz the records of nine people accused or convicted of crimes who collected voter registration information for ACORN.

SCHULTZ: This information in, you know, the hands of the wrong person could be devastating.

ACORN: I find it interesting. I do understand that it would draw some concerns.

HERZENBERG: ACORN spokeswoman Stephanie Blackwell says the nine people no longer work for ACORN but they lasted at most 8 days

HERZENBERG: How much personal information did they get?

ACORN: I don’t know exact numbers in terms of how many cards per person that they collected. I do know, so far, total throughout the state, we’ve registered over 60,000 voters.

In Florida, William Amos points to an ACORN-assisted woman with no job who secured a $42,000 loan on a house that she can’t figure out how to pay. Go figure:

Carolyn Patmon has lived in what she calls her “modest little house” in Carver Shores for 38 years. At one point, she owned it free and clear. Then she took out a loan to add a sun porch.

Because she was on disability and wasn’t working, she was offered a mortgage rate of 14 percent.

“But the rate was supposed to go down in a couple of years,” said Patmon, 59.

It didn’t. What the mortgage brokers had told her and what the fine print in the loan documents said were two different things. Within a few years, Patmon found herself owing $115,000 on a $42,000 loan — and being sued for foreclosure
Nothing about her story is particularly remarkable these days — except how it’s ending. Because Patmon went to Orlando ACORN, a nonprofit community organization with chapters nationwide, she has been able to stop the foreclosure process and is working on having her loan modified to more affordable terms.

Experts say plenty of help is available to those such as Patmon, but that homeowners need to seek assistance early and often. And they shouldn’t expect it to be easy.

The WSJ’s overview of ACORN’s milking of the housing crisis is here.

Rep. Tom Feeney has called on the Attorney General to investigate:

Dear Attorney General Mukasey:

We are writing to request an immediate investigation into whether or not the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, is engaging in criminal voting fraud, promoting fraudulent registrations, or criminally misusing taxpayer funds.

With the next election cycle quickly approaching, we are confident that the Department of Justice will be ensuring the integrity of our federal elections. Although the administration of elections is chiefly a function of state government, the Department of Justice must ensure that nationwide criminal voter fraud is targeted and eliminated as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Voter fraud represents a serious threat to the validity of all American elections. Each and every illegal vote cast cancels out the thoughtfully considered vote of an American citizen. In April, the Supreme Court upheld an Indiana statute requiring registered voters to present photo identification in order to vote. The Court, in a 6-3 opinion, noted that “the risk of voter fraud [is] real…[and] could affect the outcome of a close election.”[1]

One organization in particular has developed a reputation for lawlessness in the electoral process. The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, has repeatedly been associated with voting fraud, turning in fraudulent registrations, and misuse of taxpayer funds. The laundry list of inappropriate conduct including investigations and convictions of individuals associated with ACORN is far too long to include in this letter, but here are a few key examples:

* Last year in Washington, felony charges were filed against several paid employees and supervisors of ACORN. Over 1,700 fraudulent registrations turned in by the employees were revoked in one of the largest instances of voting fraud in the United States.[2]

* In March of 2008, an ACORN worker was sentenced in Berks County Pennsylvania to 146 days to 23 months in the county prison for making 29 phony voter-registration forms to collect a cash bonus from ACORN.[3]

* Dale Rathke, brother of ACORN founder, Wade Rathke, embezzled nearly $1 million from Acorn and affiliated charitable organizations in 1999 and 2000 but a small group of executives decided to keep the information from almost all of the group’s board members and not to alert law enforcement. Dale Rathke remained on Acorn’s payroll until a month ago, when disclosure of his theft by foundations and other donors forced the organization to dismiss him.[4]

* As of July 2008, at least three ACORN workers have been convicted of voter fraud in Kansas City, and one is awaiting trial. These ACORN workers in Kansas City flooded voter registration rolls with over 35,000 false or questionable voter registration forms.[5]

* St. Louis, Mo., officials found that in 2006 over 1,000 addresses listed on its registrations did not exist. “We met twice with ACORN before their drive, but our requests completely fell by the wayside,” said Democrat Matt Potter, the city’s deputy elections director.[6] Later, federal authorities indicted eight of the group’s local workers. One of the eight pleaded guilty last month.

* The Consumers Rights League reports that ACORN used taxpayer money to support “corporate shakedown tactics, counseling of potential homebuyers to use “undocumented” or “under the table” income to obtain mortgages, and to assist in obtaining mortgages for undocumented workers.[7]

At the very least, this pattern of conduct by individuals associated with ACORN has created an air of reasonable suspicion that ACORN is either engaged in criminal enterprise or does not have sufficient safeguards in place to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to those ends.

ACORN has routinely assured Americans that the aforementioned events and those like them represent isolated events by individuals not representing ACORN. Consequently, we are confident that they will welcome such an investigation to support their contentions that this pattern of misconduct is not endemic to ACORN’s operations.

We must do everything in our power to ensure that our electoral processes continue to reflect our dedication to a lawful democracy. Our civil rights and voting laws are designed to ensure that every American has their vote counted. Unfortunately, registering dead or fictitious voters serves no purpose other than to ultimately misrepresent and dilute the voice of the American people.

We respectfully request that you inform us whether you plan to initiate an investigation as soon as possible, and no later than September 8, 2008. We also request that you inform us whether the results of your review will be provided to Congress and made public. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Too bad the Obamedia won’t ask ACORN’s old friend for comment.

***

Check out the ACORN Watch archives here.

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