My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Judicial Watch vs. ACORN

MyTwoCensus will report more on this story throughout the weekend. For now, here is a press release from right-leaning watchdog organization Judicial Watch detailing their current investigation of left-leaning ACORN:

Judicial Watch Obtains Obama Commerce Department Documents Detailing ACORN Partnership for 2010 Census

Contact Information:
Press Office 202-646-5172, ext 305

Washington, DC — May 28, 2009

Census Bureau refuses to partner with “Hate Groups, Law Enforcement, Anti-Immigrant Groups”

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has obtained documents from the U.S. Census Bureau detailing the substantial involvement of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) in the 2010 Census. Included among the 126 pages of documents, obtained by Judicial Watch under threat of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, is ACORN’s original Census partnership application. The document describes 18 different areas of responsibility requested by the community organization, which is under investigation in multiple states for illegal activity during the 2008 election, including voter registration fraud.

The documents also list the types of organizations ineligible for partnering with the U.S. Census. They include: “…Hate groups, Law enforcement, anti-immigrant groups, any groups that might make people fearful of participating in the Census…” The release of these Obama Commerce Department documents comes in the wake of an Obama Department of Homeland Security report released in April linking opposition to illegal immigration to “rightwing extremist radicalization.”

In its official statement responding to the ACORN controversy, the Obama Commerce Department downplayed ACORN’s participation in the Census, and labeled “baseless” the notion that ACORN would be involved in any Census count. However, the Census Bureau offered ACORN the opportunity to “recruit Census workers” who would participate in the count. Moreover, as an “executive level” partner, ACORN has the ability to “organize and/or serve as a member on a Complete Count Committee,” which, according to Census documents, helps “develop and implement locally based outreach and recruitment campaigns.”

According to its application ACORN also signed up to: “Encourage employees and constituents to complete and mail their questionnaire; identify job candidates and/or distribute and display recruiting materials; appoint a liaison to work with the Census Bureau; provide space for Be Counted sites and/or Questionnaire Assistance Centers; sponsor community events to promote participation in the 2010 Census,” among 18 requested areas of responsibility. The documents also show the decision to add ACORN as a partner occurred in February, long after the January 15th Census partnership application deadline. (One Census official had bet “it was under Bush.”)

Among other conclusions from the documents:

  • The Census Bureau requested that ACORN “help us highlight [ACORN's] innovation and hard work and share best practices so other organizations can learn from your experiences.”
  • Members of the Census Bureau and Department of Commerce staff assigned to organize the 2010 Census were unaware of when the decision to involve ACORN was made, how the Census Bureau choose and defined partners, or whether partners received payment.
  • The Census Bureau did not conduct background checks on the 3.7 million people hired to conduct the 2000 Census, unless a preliminary name check provided a match. Overall, 8% of the applicants, or over 300,000 people, were considered risks for hire.

According to the U.S. Census documents, among other things, census data is used to allocate $300 billion in federal funds. Census data also “determines how many seats each state will have in the House of Representatives as well as the redistricting of state legislatures, county and city councils, and voting districts.”

“Given its history of illegal activity and fraud, ACORN should be nowhere near the 2010 Census,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “And shame on the Obama Commerce Department for continuing to demonize conservatives by lumping together law enforcement and anti-immigration groups with ‘hate groups.’ This discriminatory policy raises First Amendment concerns. Indeed, these documents provide further evidence that the Obama administration is politicizing the 2010 Census.”

Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Census on March 23, 2009. After the Obama Commerce Department stonewalled, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit on May 14, 2009. The documents were released to Judicial Watch on May 15, 2009.

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8 Responses to “Judicial Watch vs. ACORN”

  1. jim Says:

    this is the worst example of ‘journalism’ i’ve ever seen. not only did you merely reproduce a press release (again), but it’s a press release from a nakedly partisan organization that, among other highlights, sued to ‘investigate’ the ‘propriety’ of the process that led to john kerry receiving awards for his service in vietnam. equating an organization that engages in arbitrary and self-serving lawsuits in an attempt to slander and break down those with whom it disagrees with ACORN – a community organization whose stated goal is improving the lives of the poorest through service delivery and effective policy advocacy – is grotesque.

  2. Anonymous CL Says:

    Bravo, Jim.

    It is ridiculous how the right-wing ringleaders have fixated on ACORN.

  3. Stephen Robert Morse Says:

    Jim — Not all of our content on this site is original. Though we do add our own commentary, opinions, and original reporting, part of our mission is to aggregate the best 2010 Census-related news from around the country. Reproducing press releases from right wing or left wing organizations is part of this process so the public can learn what is going on.

  4. jim Says:

    @SRM i understand that not all of your content is original (in fact, i’d say the original content averages about 11-14 words per post), but that’s no excuse for merely reproducing political smear-jobs from either side of the partisan divide. don’t you see how that repeats all of the worst instincts of today’s ‘he said, she said’ journalism? it’s not your job as a journalist to say what one side or the other is saying. it’s to find out the truth for you readers.

    If you aren’t familiar with the whole debate surrounding the media’s lame attempt to create false balance in stories where such balance is inappropriate, i suggest this article from pressthink as a useful primer.

    you say you are doing investigations. this is good, and i look forward to reading them. but so far, all your site has offered is reproduction of press releases, copy-and-pasted AP stories, and a few baseless, context-free attacks and vaguely racist insinuations. the input from census staffers in the field has been useful, but, like Jay Leno’s ‘headlines’ bit, the best part of the show so far has been the one you had little, if nothing, to do with.

  5. jim Says:

    let me continue, because that sounded a bit harsh. i think you’ve done a great job positioning this site as the go-to place for information about the looming census, and i hope you can maintain the pole position as 2010 nears. However, for that to happen, you’re going to need to contribute more in the way of thoughtful analysis and real reportage, in order to make your site a key player in the debate. i think you can do this, but it’s going to take a radical departure from your current format of ‘here’s a one-sentence intro followed by a three-page story someone else wrote.’ That isn’t how successful blogs on any subject operate.

  6. Jo Says:

    Jim makes a good point. This site has a lot of potential, but the copy-paste jobs aren’t up to the standards of the ‘team of professional political journalists’ you claim to be. Not to mention by completely copying the articles instead of introducing, quoting, and then linking to them you are stealing traffic and potentially revenue from the sites and journalists that actually generated the content.

  7. Stephen Robert Morse Says:

    To Jim, Jo, and other readers: While we try to produce original content as often as possible, we also have other jobs/responsibilities, so until MyTwoCensus is a sustainable entity that can pay us for our time, we can only do as much original reporting as is humanly possible. That said, we have made numerous Freedom of Information Act requests for documents from the federal government, but unfortunately such requests take weeks or in many cases months to process. However, please tell me what you are looking for. Is it more commentary that you desire? This presents a sticky situation, as we must maintain our non-partisan appearance. We invite readers to contribute to us, so if you have something to say, please join our team with a one-time or weekly column. And if you would like to contribute articles with commentary, that would be great too!

  8. jim Says:

    i don’t think it’s accurate to say you have a non-partisan stance you must maintain. for starters, the great thing about the blogosphere is that it allows journalists and commentators to tear down the fake veneer of impartiality (that doesn’t really exist anywhere) and speak directly to audiences as themselves. Second, this site is not non-partisan. While it may not be distinctly left- or right-leaning, it certainly has taken the view that the census process is inefficient, the staff are underprepared, and the federal bureaucracy is simply not ready for such an important process to begin in less than 12 months. like i said, that’s not a left or right point of view, but it’s certainly a point of view, and your audience would gain more from you elucidating on and defending that point of view than they would from this copy-and-paste nonsense.