Hmmmm. “Operation Vote.” That’s the new name of a Chicago-run voter recruitment drive launched this weekend by Team Obama to target minorities and shore up his left flank.
As usual, everything old is new again…
Photoshop credit: Leo Alberti
Via the Washington Post:
President Obama’s campaign is developing an aggressive new program to expand support from ethnic minority groups and other traditional Democratic voters as his team studies an increasingly narrow path to victory in next year’s reelection effort.
The program, called “Operation Vote,” underscores how the tide has turned for Obama, whose 2008 brand was built on calls to unite “red and blue America.” Then, he presented himself as a politician who could transcend traditional partisan divisions, and many white centrists were drawn to the coalition that helped elect the country’s first black president.
Today, the political realities of a sputtering economy, a more polarized Washington and fast-sinking presidential job approval ratings, particularly among white independents, are forcing the Obama campaign to adjust its tactics.
Operation Vote will function as a large, centralized department in the Chicago campaign office for reaching ethnic, religious and other voter groups. It will coordinate recruitment of an ethnic volunteer base and push out targeted messages online and through the media to groups such as blacks, Hispanics, Jews, women, seniors, young people, gays and Asian Americans.
Just a few weeks ago, “Operation Vote” was “Project Vote.”
And the last time Obama fronted a massive campaign machine coordinating minorities and tied into the Chicago/ACORN social justice machinery it went by the name… “Project Vote.”
Obama denied aaaaanything having to do with ACORN and on his campaign’s “Fight the Smears” snitch watch site, he flatly denied any connection between Project Vote and the fraud-plagued ACORN:
• Fact: Barack was never an ACORN community organizer.
• Fact: ACORN never hired Obama as a trainer, organizer, or any type of employee.
• Fact: ACORN was not part of Project Vote, the successful voter registration drive Barack ran in 1992.
The truth? Well, Project Vote whistleblower Anita MonCrief (now at Emerging Corruption) has been exposing the racket for years. As the “new” “Operation Vote” gets underway, it’s worth reminding the electorate how the old Project Vote skirted campaign finance, disclosure, and tax laws in its single-minded bid to lock up minority voters. If you weren’t paying attention back then, pay attention now.
(Photo source: 2008 ACORN slideshow presentation)
They thought it would go away. They were wrong. Obama and the Left thought ACORN’s scandalous racket was a dead issue. But whistleblowers, investigative bloggers, and talk radio continue to press for transparency and taxpayer accountability. Iowa GOP Rep. Steve King has renewed efforts for congressional hearings into the financial structure of the massive, publicly subsidized activist group and its non-profit affiliates. Judicial Watch sheds light on ACORN’s partnership with the Census. Keep an eye on ACORN’s propaganda role in the Obama push for a government health care takeover. And Glenn Beck spotlights the left-wing strategy session to rescue ACORN.
My column today returns to one of the Obama campaign’s big lies — that Barack Obama “never organized with ACORN” and that ACORN had nothing to do with Project Vote. They were joined at the hip back then and they remain joined at the hip today.
Here’s the text of e-mails from ACORN and affiliate staffers patting themselves on the back for their role in Obama’s voter registration drive (click here for the original). Note the addressees, including Frances Piven. Yes, that Frances Piven:
From: Kevin Whelan [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, August 14, 2008 10:54 PM
To: email@example.com; ‘Sanford Newman'; firstname.lastname@example.org; ‘Frances Piven'; email@example.com
Cc: ‘Sarah Massey'; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; ‘Michael McDunnah’
Subject: RE: Obama’s Voter-registration Drive
Follow Up Flag: Follow up
Flag Status: Red
This is great! Good work everyone!
From: Michael Slater [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, August 14, 2008 8:39 PM
To: ‘Sanford Newman'; email@example.com; ‘Kevin Whelan'; ‘Frances Piven'; firstname.lastname@example.org
Cc: ‘Sarah Massey'; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; ‘Michael McDunnah’
Subject: Obama’s Voter-registration Drive
Some fine quotes from liberal lawyer Sandy Newman and academic and activist Francis Fox Piven: http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080901/hayes
Find it on news stands now.
The truth about ObamACORN
by Michelle Malkin
Left-wing groups in Washington, D.C., are panicked. The New York Times and other Team Obama whitewashers have tried hard to suppress mounting evidence of legally suspect coordination between the Obama presidential campaign, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), and Obama’s old employer Project Vote (ACORN’s non-profit canvassing arm). Alas, the truth keeps seeping out.
At a closed-door pow-wow hosted Thursday at the left-leaning Center for American Progress, activists discussed how to combat a relentless stream of corruption charges from ACORN/Project Vote whistleblowers. But it’s too late for a reputation bailout. Former Project Vote official and whistleblower Anita MonCrief has harnessed the Internet to crowd-source a massive cache of documents showing ties between Obama staff and the supposedly “non-partisan” ACORN operations.
Last fall, the New York Times abandoned an investigation into whether Obama had shared donor lists with Project Vote, a 501(c)(3) organization that is prohibited from engaging in political activity. Public editor Clark Hoyt earlier this month called it “the tip that didn’t pan out.” Critics suggested that the donor lists could have been compiled through public records. But I have obtained the lists — not only of Obama donors, but also lists of Democratic National Committee, Hillary Clinton, and John Kerry contributors. The records [view them here] include small donors to the Obama campaign who are not disclosed in public campaign finance databases. It’s information only a campaign could supply.
MonCrief testified under oath last fall that her then-boss, Karyn Gillette, gave her the Obama donor list and told her the campaign had furnished it. Moreover, e-mail between ACORN, Project Vote, and other affiliates, including ACORN’s subsidiary, Citizens Services, Inc. (CSI), make explicit references to working on “Obama campaign related projects.” [Click here for the e-mail.] The “list of maxed out Obama donors” is explicitly mentioned in staff e-mail. [Click here for the e-mail.] Another message from ACORN/Project Vote official Nathan Henderson-James warns ACORN and affiliated staff to prepare for “conservatives…gearing up a major oppo research project on Obama.”
Henderson-James wrote obligatorily, “Understand I’m not suggesting that we gear up to defend a candidate’s campaign.” But that, of course, is exactly what the ACORN enterprise did.
Text of full e-mail [click here for original]:
From: Nathan Henderson-James [email@example.com]
Sent: Friday, February 08, 2008 5:09 PM
To: ‘Zach Polett'; ‘firstname.lastname@example.org'; Kevin Whelan (email@example.com)
Cc: Karyn Gillette; ‘firstname.lastname@example.org'; Nordette Adams
Subject: Oppo Research On Obama
The attached link goes to a story on TPM Muckraker that says that conservatives are gearing up a major oppo research project on Obama.
We should prepare for this information being used to tie Obama to the bogus voter fraud charges leveled against PV and ACORN from the last two election cycles. It may or may not gain traction, it may or may not be chosen as a way of attacking him, but I think we cannot afford to ignore the possibility and plan what our response(s) might be (if any).
Understand I’m not suggesting that we gear up to defend a candidateís campaign, but prepare for the scrutiny and possible ancillary attacks that will come our way because of this.
Director, Strategic Writing and Research Department
Citizens’ Services, Inc.
3655 S. Grand Ave #250
Los Angeles, CA 90007
213-747-7202 phone, 213-747-4221 fax, 510-213-1970 cell
Why does this matter? Transparency, tax dollars, and electoral integrity. ACORN’s own lawyer, Elizabeth Kingsley, acknowledged last year that a vast web of tax-exempt ACORN affiliates were shuffling money around – making it difficult to impossible to track whether campaign rules and tax regulations were being followed. ACORN receives 40 percent of its revenues from taxpayers. Americans deserve to know whether and how much commingling of public money with political projects has occurred over the last four decades – and what role the Obama campaign played in this enterprise.
Remember: Last August, the Obama team admitted its failure to properly disclose $800,000 in payments to ACORN’s subsidiary, CSI – which works hand-in-hand with Project Vote and the ACORN parent organization. Obama mysteriously re-classified the campaign advance work expenditures as “get-out-the-vote” activities. Nary a peep from electoral integrity watchdogs.
Despite heated denials from Team Obama, the links between ACORN, Project Vote, and CSI are inextricable. As Obama himself reminded ACORN leaders after its political action committee endorsed his presidential candidacy in February 2008:
I come out of a grassroots organizing background. That’s what I did for three and half years before I went to law school. That’s the reason I moved to Chicago was to organize. So this is something that I know personally, the work you do, the importance of it. 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.
As I’ve reported before, the Obama campaign’s “Vote for Change” registration drive, running in conjunction with ACORN/Project Vote, was an all-out scramble to scrape up every last unregistered voter sympathetic to Obama’s big-government vision.
In an e-mail message to whistleblower MonCrief last summer, New York Times reporter Stephanie Strom told the truth: “The real story to all this is how these myriad entities allow them to shuffle money around so much that no one really knows what’s getting spent on what.” By October 6, 2008, Strom had thrown in the towel in the wake of blistering phone conversations with the Obama campaign. She wrote:
“I’m calling a halt to my efforts. I just had two unpleasant calls with the Obama campaign, wherein the spokesman was screaming and yelling and cursing me, calling me a rightwing nut and a conspiracy theorist and everything else…I’d still like to get that file from you when you have a chance to send it. One of these days, the truth is going to come out.”
It’s only just begun.
Yesterday, I posted a few of the e-mails between NYTimes Stephanie Strom and ACORN/Project Vote whistleblower Anita MonCrief. You can download the entire series of message by clicking here. Mike Gaynor has transcriptions of several of the message here, including:
1. “I’m a little miffed with the funders, too. They have to be aware that the grants they make to c(3)s like Project Vote are being funneled to Acorn, which, whether c(4) or simply nonprofit corporation under state law, they aren’t supposed to give money to. ” July 10, 2008 8:18:52 PM
2. “I really want to see 1024 Elysian Fields in New Orleans. It’s the official ‘home’ of something like 50-plus Acorn related entities. The real story to all this is how these myriad entities allow them to shuffle money around so much that no one really knows what’s getting spent on what — and for the charities like the housing orgs, that’s a problem. Charitable money cannot be spent on political activities. It’s a big no-no that can cost organizations their exemptions. July 31, 2008 5:17:49
“When you say the DC Local waives the credit report charges if clients sign up for bank drafts with ACORN, do you mean ACORN actually runs a banking services organization? That would be news to me. The rumor I’ve heard about the chief organizer’s fund is that this is what the Rathkes have used to ‘repay’ Acorn and the two charities that Dale embezzled from. It’s a huge slush bucket controlled by Wade and Maude Hurd, no one else.” July 31, 2008 5:17:49 PM
3. “You are a gold mine! = ).” July 31, 2008 6:06:26 PM
4. “Thanks so much for this. I’m getting a clear picture of what went down last week with the fund raising letter and their scramble to get money somewhere, anyway, in response to my questions. Why not just say they’re having trouble? So are lots of nonprofit groups right now, even those that arent connected to a scandal of any sort. Sometimes the cover up is worse than what’s being covered up.” August 3, 2008 11:51:15 AM
5. “I’m a bit worried about reaching out to Amy if she’s in the process of rejoining Acorn. Doesn’t that mean she’s drunkt the Koolaid?” August 4, 2008 1:40:52
6. “I don’t need to ‘out’ the member who was intimidated. I basically just need her to confirm what I’ve been told. I can then recount the incident as if I know it to be fact.” September 4, 2008 8:59:59 PM
7. “Am also onto the Obama connection, sadly. Would love the donor lists. As for helping the Repubs, they’re already onto this like white on rice. SIGH.” September 7, 2008 1:59 PM
8.”Separately, I’m wondering whether you can give me any more details about the Nov. 2007 meeting with the Obama camp. Where did it take place? Who was involved? Any details would help.” September 12, 2008 3:57 PM
9. “You’re the best. If we could get the names of two or three people who were either sacked or forced out on suspicion of having passed information to me, that would clearly demonstrate the lie.
“What a mess.” September 13, 2008 9:43 AM
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