"The only involvement I’ve had with ACORN was I represented them alongside the U.S. Justice Department in making Illinois implement a motor-voter law that helped people get registered at DMVs."
Thus spoke Barack Obama in Wednesday’s debate against John McCain. Obama’s statement was clear, definitive, and stunningly untrue.
With ACORN facing vote-fraud investigations in at least 13 states, it is no surprise that Barack Obama wants to distance himself from this band of scandal-plagued community organizers. However, the degree to which Obama and his campaign have concealed his well-documented links to ACORN reveals a disturbing pattern of deceit.
The Obama campaign’s FightTheSmears.com website tries to "stay up to date on right-wing smears." It now asserts "ACORN never hired Obama as a trainer, organizer, or any type of employee." As ABC News’ Jake Tapper noticed, this new language updates an earlier claim that proved false: "Barack was never an ACORN trainer and never worked for ACORN in any other capacity."
In fact, FightTheSmears.com echoes what Obama said in the debate: He sued Illinois’s government on ACORN’s behalf. His 1995 victory forced the state to obey the federal "Motor Voter" registration law.
However, FightTheSmears.com is eerily silent about how he otherwise has been in cahoots with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. This additional interaction with ACORN thoroughly discredits Obama’s words at Hofstra University.
The Cleveland Leader first reported that former ACORN board member Toni Foulkes detailed some of this collaboration in the Winter 2003-Spring 2004 issue of the journal Social Policy.
As Foulkes wrote, "We have invited Obama to our leadership training sessions to run the session on power every year, and, as a result, many of our newly developing leaders got to know him before he ever ran for office. Thus, it was natural for many of us to be active volunteers in his first campaign for state senate and then his failed bid for U.S. Congress." Foulkes added: "By the time he ran for U.S. Senate, we were old friends."
FightTheSmears.com also posits that "ACORN was not part of Project Vote, the successful voter registration drive Barack ran in 1992."
However, Foulkes’ article seems to indicate that ACORN cooperated with Project Vote. As she explained: "Project VOTE delivered 50,000 newly registered voters in that campaign (ACORN delivered about 5,000 of them)."
Writing last February on the campaign’s website, Obama supporter Sam Graham-Felsen cited the Democratic nominee’s remarks to a November 2007 ACORN gathering. "When I ran Project Vote voter registration drives in Illinois," Obama said, "ACORN was smack dab in the middle of it, and we appreciate your work."
Hilariously, FightTheSmears.com — as of Thursday morning — displays the new "ACORN never hired Obama" language. But one click away sits an old, refuted document that states Obama "never worked for ACORN." The campaign’s left hand appears unaware of what its far-left hand is doing.
Obama’s website conveniently omits these other links:
— While Obama and remorseless Weather Underground co-founder William Ayers both served on the board of directors of Chicago’s Woods Fund, Chicago ACORN received $190,000 in Woods’ money.
— In his November 2007 ACORN address, Obama said: "I’ve been fighting alongside ACORN on issues you care about my entire career."
— Obama’s campaign paid $832,598 last February to Citizens Services, Inc., an ACORN affiliate. The campaign originally described this to the Federal Election Commission as "staging, sound, lighting." Last August, amended filings showed this money purchased get-out-the-vote services. Obama spokesman Bill Burton told MSNBC Tuesday that "one-tenth of that money went to ACORN for those efforts."
— Last February 21, ACORN Votes, the group’s political action committee, endorsed Obama for president. As this PAC’s Alicia Russell cheered: "He’s on the same level we are, and sees our issues as we do."
While shocking revelations about this group pile up, as if they had fallen from trees, Barack Obama understandably will treat ACORN like something only a squirrel could love. But don’t be fooled. They’re old friends.
(Deroy Murdock is a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. E-mail him at deroy.Murdock(at)gmail.com)