ACORN Faces “RICO” Lawsuit in Ohio

This isn’t quite what we were expecting but we’ve learned that the Buckeye Institute has filed suit against vote manufacturer ACORN and its vote fraud marketing arm, Project Vote, under Ohio’s Corrupt Activity Act.

The press release from the Buckeye Institute, a think tank based in Columbus, Ohio, reads as follows:

COLUMBUS – The Buckeye Institute, a Columbus-based think tank, today filed a state RICO action against the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) on behalf of two Warren County voters.  The action filed in Warren County Court of Common Pleas alleges ACORN has engaged in a pattern of corrupt activity that amounts to organized crime.  It seeks ACORN’s dissolution as a legal entity, the revocation of any licenses in Ohio, and an injunction against fraudulent voter registration and other illegal activities.

Plaintiffs Jennifer Miller of Mason, Ohio and Kimberly Grant of Loveland, allege that ACORN’s actions deprive them of the right to participate in an honest and effective elections process.  They allege fraudulent voter registrations submitted by ACORN dilute the votes of legally registered voters.

“The right to cast a vote that is not diluted by fraudulent votes is a fundamental individual right,” Buckeye Institute President David Hansen said.

“ACORN appears to be recklessly disregarding Ohio laws and adding thousands of fraudulent voters to the state’s roles in the process,” Maurice Thompson, Director of the Buckeye Institute’s 1851 Center for Constitutional Law said.  “Such voter fraud erodes the value of legally cast votes,” he added.

In the complaint, Thompson cites an accumulation of evidence showing numerous instances of admitted fraud by ACORN employees, as well as individuals solicited by ACORN.

“In light of its hiring, training and compensation practices, ACORN should have known its conduct would cause fraud,” Thompson said.  “It also should know that its conduct will cause fraud in the future.”

In addition, the complaint cites conduct by ACORN in Colorado, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

A full copy of the complaint is available online at http://www.buckeyeinstitute.org/acorn.pdf.

The Buckeye Institute for Public Policy Solutions, together with its 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, is a nonpartisan research and educational institute devoted to individual liberty, economic freedom, personal responsibility and limited government in Ohio. 

The legal complaint, filed on behalf of two Ohio voters, contains some interesting allegations — and could serve as a course syllabus if a university were to offer a course called “ACORN: New Frontiers in Vote Fraud.”

Here are some of the allegations:

10. Project Vote/Voting for American [sic], Inc. shares a statutory agent with ACORN, and for all intents and purposes, is indistinguishable from ACORN.

There is a typo. Project Vote is also known as Voting for America. Presumably the wording can be amended. But yes, Project Vote is indistinguishable from ACORN.

11. ACORN’s “voter-mobilization arm,” Project Vote, regularly advises Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner on election strategy, even recently issuing a news release that claims credit for Brunner’s directive restricting challenges to suspected fraudulent voter registrations.

#11 is a potentially explosive allegation, for sure.

12. According to Congressional testimony, while “ACORN says they don’t take federal money,“ Acorn Housing Corporation receives millions of dollars from the federal government, and from 2004 to 2006, funneled 4.6 million to ACORN.” ACORN is thus willfully using taxpayer funds to support fraudulent political operations.

This is an interesting argument about taxpayer money supporting fraudulent activities except that money is fungible, i.e. it’s hard to say which pool of money funded what.

13. According to Congressional testimony, “ACORN’s massive enterprise includes as many as 150 subsidiary organizations, according to a recent legal filing by members of its board of directors. This list includes two affiliated labor union locals, TV and radio broadcast operations, immense housing counseling operations, and a number of lobbying and political entities. In all, ACORN’s total operation this year has an estimated budget of $110 million. * * * [T]hese organizations are operated as a single enterprise, which is controlled from the top down.”

14. According to Congressional testimony “[ACORN’s] practice of juggling funds and blame between entities has often created good deal of confusion as to which crimes are allegedly committed by ACORN and which activities are those of subsidiaries such as the “non-partisan” 501(c)(3) Project Vote and the political operative organization known as Citizen Services, Inc.”

It’s true that ACORN is a massive, far-flung liberal political activism conglomerate. It’s also true that it’s ACORN’s modus operandi to juggle funds and blame between entities. Throw out enough red herrings and confusing details and people will easily get sidetracked.

Paragraphs 34 through 53 details the Ohio-specific allegations. Non-Ohio allegations are also detailed in the complaint but you’ll have to read the complaint to see them (because this blog entry is becoming way too long). Here are 34 to 53:

34. The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, has turned in at least 65,000 cards to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections in the last year.

35. At an October 8, 2008 Cuyahoga County Board of Elections hearing related to ACORN voter fraud, two Ohio voters, including Christopher Barkley , claimed that they were  hounded by the community-activist group ACORN to register to vote several times, even though they made it clear they’d already signed up. Barkley estimated he’d registered to vote “10 to 15” times after canvassers for ACORN relentlessly pursued him and others. “I kept getting approached by folks who asked me to register,” Barkley said. “They’d ask me if I was registered. I’d say yes, and they’d ask me to do it [register] again. Some of them were getting paid to collect names. That was their sob story, and I bought it,” he said.

36. Another witness subpoenaed to testify at the same October 8, 2008 hearing, Lateala Goins, 21, stated “[y]ou can tell them you’re registered as many times as you want – they do not care, …they will follow you to the buses, they will follow you home, it does not matter.” She added that she never put down an address on any of the registration forms, just her name.

37. ACORN admitted to the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections that the group engages in fraudulent voter registration activity.

38. Ohio ACORN officials “blamed the elections board for not scrutinizing ACORN’s suspicious cards,” claiming the group “can’t be expected to catch everything.”

39. Local representatives of the organization told Cuyahoga board members that they don’t have the resources to identify fraudulent cards turned in by paid canvassers.

40. ACORN bribed and/or pressured Freddie Johnson of Cleveland to register to vote 72 times. Johnson filled out 72 separate voter-registration cards over an 18-month period at the behest of ACORN. Johnson stated “[s]ometimes, they come up and bribe me with a cigarette, or they’ll give me a dollar to sign up, …The ACORN people are everywhere, looking to sign people up. I tell them I am already registered. The girl said, ‘You are?’ I say, ‘Yup,’ and then they say, ‘Can you just sign up again?’” He’d collected 10 to 20 cigarettes and anywhere from $10 to $15, he said.

41. In Columbus, Ohio, several Columbus citizens have acknowledged to reporter Shelby Holliday, on video tape, that ACORN’s voter registration efforts include harassing and begging voters to register more than once, even when the voter tells the ACORN agent that he or she is already registered, and offering favors in exchange for voting.

42. In Greene County, Ohio ACORN’s fraudulent registration efforts have induced involvement from the County Sherriff and Prosecutor.

43. On May 8, 2007, a Reynoldsburg, Ohio (Franklin County) man was indicted for voting twice in the November election. … [An attorney] said the man, a Mr Gilbert was registered in both counties by ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, a nonprofit agency that has come under fire in 12 states for voter fraud.

44. On or about September 19, 2006, the mother of a 16-year-old has told the Summit County elections board that her daughter was registered to vote, just two months after a 10-year-old boy was summoned for jury duty because he was on the county’s voter rolls. The person who filed the voter registration application was Prentice McNary of Akron, a circulator paid by Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, according to Board of Elections Director Bryan Williams.

45. On or about September 1, 2006, Franklin County Elections Board staffers questioned the validity of hundreds of names on registration forms and petitions for a proposed constitutional amendment to boost Ohio’s minimum wage. Most of the disputed names came from lists provided by paid solicitors working for ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

46. On or about August 11, 2006, and according to Matt Damschroder, director of the Franklin County Board of Elections, 500 voter registration cards, all collected between March and July of 2006 by ACORN, were turned over to County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien to determine if a crime had been committed.

47. Between Fall 2003 and June 2004, ACORN submitted approximately 23,000 voter registration cards in Franklin County, Ohio. The Franklin County Board of Elections discovered that voter registration cards submitted by ACORN included cards for people who did not exist. Franklin County Board of Elections Director Matthew Damschroeder characterized many of the registrations as “blatantly false,” while the manager of Franklin County Voter Services confirmed that the submission of false voter registration forms has resulted in the issuance of voter identification cards that could have been used, and can be used in the future, to cast fraudulent votes in the November 2004, November 2006, and November 2008 elections.

48. On or near June 3, 2004, two ACORN agents submitted fraudulent voter registration cards forms to the Franklin County Board of Elections.

49. On or about October 8, 2004 ACORN submitted 19 false voter registration cards to the Franklin County Board of Elections, including cards identifying people who did not exist.

50. On or about October 8, 2004 ACORN submitted 19 voter registrations to the Hamilton County Board of Elections for people who could not be located by the sheriff’s department after similar handwriting and false addresses raised the suspicions of elections workers. These registration cards were fraudulent and contained forged signatures.

51. On or about September 7, 2004, ACORN employee and/or agent Kevin Eugene Dooley submitted a fraudulent voter registration card to the Franklin County Board of Elections that resulted in Mr. Dooley being charged with a felony offense for forging the voter registration card in question.

52. In September 22, 2004, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation confirmed that it was investigating over 800 fraudulent voter registration cards submitted in Summit County.

53. Numerous, perhaps thousands, of fraudulent voter registration cards have been submitted in Ohio by Defendant ACORN.

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