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Lawyer Responds to Congresswoman’s ACORN Questions

I have learned that after testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on March 19, Republican National Lawyers Association (RNLA) Vice President Heather Heidelbaugh today responded to a request for additional information about ACORN from Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), a member of the committee. (letter available here as PDF)

Heidelbaugh had testified at the hearing about ACORN’s many misdeeds. At the time, committee chairman John Conyers (D-Michigan) said the allegations were “a pretty serious matter” and that an investigation was warranted. Heidelbaugh’s testimony about ACORN was largely based on evidence provided by ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief in her testimony in a 2008 Pennsylvania lawsuit called Moyer v. Cortes. (331-page transcript available here as PDF)

Heidelbaugh had testified in Congress that the nonprofit group violated a host of tax, campaign finance, and other laws. She said the presidential campaign of Barack Obama sent ACORN its “maxed out donor list” and asked two of the avowedly nonpartisan group’s employees “to reach out to the maxed out donors and solicit donations from them for Get Out the Vote efforts to be run by ACORN.” The New York Times had the donor list story but editors there spiked it the month before the election, she said, repeating the assertion on “The O’Reilly Factor” two weeks later.

Here are the two questions posed by Lee and the short versions of the answers from Heidelbaugh (as provided in an RNLA press release available here):

 

Q. Do you think ACORN staff was simply untrained and that there was no systematic attempt by ACORN to engage in voter fraud?

A. Based on the evidence I have seen, my opinion is that the ACORN staff were not adequately trained to conduct proper voter registration drives. Further, I question whether the system of compensation in place for the staff obtaining voter registration cards both for the worker and for ACORN encouraged voter registration fraud. It is also my opinion based on the evidence that I have seen that it was not a simple matter of poor training. Lastly, it is my opinion based on the evidence I have seen from the King County Settlement Agreement, the testimony in the Pennsylvania case, and the news reports from other criminal investigations that ACORN as an organization has either willfully failed to properly train its workers or grossly negligently failed to train its workers. Further information is needed in order to determine which is closer to the actual scenario. In addition, since ACORN operated voter registration drives in so many states, each state or local operation may differ in its training efforts.

Q. Do the workers with ACORN get paid based upon how many registrations they complete?

A. There have been widespread allegations from former ACORN employees that ACORN does pay its employees on a per registration basis and has imposed a quota system upon its employees. These allegations have been raised in states including Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington. These allegations have been the basis of charges brought against ACORN representatives in the state of Nevada.

 

If you wish to read Heidelbaugh’s complete answers to Rep. Lee, they are available here as a PDF. 

On May 4 Conyers mysteriously backed away from plans for a probe the same week a raft of new voter registration fraud charges were laid against ACORN and its ex-employees in Nevada and Pennsylvania. Last week Conyers cryptically remarked that he wasn’t going to proceed with an investigation because “the powers that be decided against it.” He refused to elaborate.

Incidentally, the chairman of the RNLA, David Norcross, was on the “Glenn Beck Program” last night talking about ACORN, the Secretary of State Project, and their role in electing Al Franken, the incoming second Democratic senator representing Minnesota. Here is the video clip:

Note: On July 3, I obtained the above referenced Jackson Lee letter dated June 17 and added a link to it above.