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.

Posts Tagged ‘ACORN’

Breaking News from Breitbart: Census waste caught on tape in undercover sting operation

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Conservative activist James O’Keefe (of ACORN fame) has produced the following video. It will be aired on Good Morning America later today:

Live-blogging a conference call with Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves…

Monday, December 14th, 2009

10:00 – pretty sure the census bureau dropped the ball on this one because i called back in and the line is dead…either the call is over or more likely the census bureau/call center made some sort of error…

9:55 – KNOCKED OFF THE CALL…did it go dead? my line is still working fine…come on!

9:52 – Question: Why don’t you mention single, unattached people under age 30 as a hard-to-count group?

9:31 – 134 million addresses in the USA. As of now, they are 2% points high, compared to 5% high in the 2000 address…there were more duplicates then.

9:29 – go in pairs, with escorts, in high crime areas (for census enumerators)…

9:28 – safety in america: FBI NAME-CHECK…ALL APPLICANTS UNDERGOING FINGERPRINTING…on criminal history check, any convinces for major crimes such as grand theft, child molestation…etc…”if there are convictions of less serious crimes then the applicant can be hired if they don’t pose a risk to the american public”  – With so many people OUT OF WORK who don’t have felonies, why would you hire felons????

9:26 – Over 3.8 million people are being recruited for 1.2 million through 1.4 million people. 700,000 people working for the largest operation, Non-Response Follow Up from May through July 2010.

9:21 – Complete Count Committees forming…who ensures that there is bi-partisan representation on these 9,100 committees (37 in states). But are they bipartisan and independent?

9:20 – 135,000 partner organizations with the 2010 census…here’s one who’s not a partner anymore: ACORN

9:18 – 3 large processing centers open

9:17 – Grovesy talks about the ad campaign that’s getting started. Starting enumeration in Alaska in January. In March, most of the US population receives their forms. April 1 is Census Day (and April Fools Day…ah)…people should return their forms by this day. Otherwise the door-knockers will come knock knock knocking…some talk of reapportionment. In April 2011 the state-redistricting data for local/regional races is distributed.

9:16 – Grovesy’s giving us a quick history lesson about the Census….founding fathers yadda yadda…yawn

9:15 – Dr. Groves is in da house so to speak for the second operational press briefing (shouldn’t we have more of these?)

9:15 – 2010 Census PR Man Stephen Buckner is on the line…

9:13 – We are still standing by…this hold music is now reminiscent of terrible elevator rides.

9:07 – Kind of enjoying the jazz rendition of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer…on second thought, take as much time as you need to start this call.

9:05 – Come on Grovesy…I’m hungry for answers. (Still waiting for call to begin…)

8:59  – Call should begin shortly…

** CENSUS BUREAU MEDIA ADVISORY **

Census Bureau Director to Provide Update on
Status of 2010 Census Operations

What:         U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves will brief the media on the status of 2010 Census operations. Groves will provide an assessment of the Master Address File, which serves as the source of addresses for mailing and delivering more than 130 million 2010 Census forms next March. He will also provide  updates on outreach activities and other logistical operations under way.  The briefing will include a question-and-answer session.

When:        Monday, Dec. 14, 9 – 10 a.m. (EST)

Where:        National Press Club, 13th floor
Fourth Estate Restaurant
529 14th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20045

Members of the media may also participate by telephone. (Please dial-in early to allow time for the operator to place you in the call.)

Interview with Robert Goldenkoff of the Government Accountability Office

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

On Friday, October 9, 2009 I interviewed Robert Goldenkoff, who has worked for more than 20 years at the Government Accountability Office and currently serves as the GAO’s Director of Strategic Issues. One of his many areas of focus is the 2010 Census, which the GAO defined as a high risk operation in a March 2008 report. On Thursday October 8, Mr. Goldenkoff faced questions at a Senate hearing investigating the 2010 Census. In the following interview he discusses the recent fingerprinting problems that he shared with Congress and many other long-term issues with the decennial census.

SRM: What led to the discovery that there could have been criminals hired by the Census Bureau?

RG: We’re looking at all aspects of the Census Bureau’s readiness for the 2010 Census. The decennial census is so huge that we’re focusing a lot of our work on areas where the Census Bureau doesn’t have a lot of experience, where they haven’t done that particular operation before. One of those areas is fingerprinting. In the past, at least for the 2000 Census, they relied only on a name background check. That was why we included fingerprinting as part of our review, because it was a new operation. They’ve been doing the census pretty much the same way  – obviously technology changes – but, the fundamental approach to the 2010 Census is very similar to say the 1970 Census. So if there’s going to be an issue, it’s more likely in something that they’ve never done before.

SRM: Why is your office investigating this rather than the Commerce Department Inspector General’s office? Or were you working together on this?

RG: We are two independent agencies, two different reporting authorities. We do work together, collaborate and coordinate our work just so the right hand knows what the left hand is doing. Sometimes we work in the same areas and other times we work in different areas, depending on facts and circumstances.

SRM: Where did you get the figure that you reported to Congress that 200 criminals could have been hired by the 2010 Census? And can you clarify what “could have been hired” means?

RG: It’s strictly based on the percentages. There were 162,000 people in total hired for address canvassing. 1,800 passed the name background check but their fingerprints revealed that they had criminal records. Of those, 750 were disqualified for census employment, because their criminal records were such that they were ineligible for census employment. All we did was project those same ratios for the 35,700 people who went through the name background check but whose fingerprints could not be read. So it’s strictly a projection. It’s unfortunate that the reporting of this was not always accurate or perhaps sensationalized it. We’re not saying that 200 criminals did work on the census, but we’re saying that based on that projection it’s possible.

SRM: During the summer, I was contacted by a man named David Allburn who runs a company called National Fingerprints, LLC, which can be found at NationalFingerprints.com. His firm placed a bid with the Census Bureau to receive a contract to handle the fingerprinting of employees, because right now prospective employees are fingerprinted by other Census Bureau employees who are not well trained in fingerprinting. David informed me that someone who is an experienced criminal would know that it’s very simple to smudge your fingerprints and make them unreadable by simply pressing your hand too hard on the paper when your fingers are being rolled in the ink. The Census Bureau chose not to use David’s company but rather to conduct the operation on their own without outside help. Of course part of the reason David called me originally because he was upset that his company wasn’t chosen for the contract, but he was also concerned that the 2010 Census operations would be infiltrated by criminals. At first I figured David could be overexaggerating this scenario, but now I know that he was absolutely right. So I’m wondering, do you have any idea why David’s method was rejected?

RG: No idea.

SRM: I’ve also heard from many sources that after people have been hired by the Census Bureau and started to work, their criminal background check reports came in later, and only then, after they already had access to a significant amount of data, were they fired. Why did this happen?

RG: I don’t know. Our point to all of this was not to scare people or anything like that. Our point was to make it clear to the Bureau that they need to have a better policy, or at least have a better policy for those people whose fingerprints can’t be read. With so many people working on the census, even if only a small percentage of fingerprints are flawed, you’re still talking about a substantial number of people.

SRM: Has the Census Bureau done anything to try to fix this flawed system?

RG: It is important to point out though that the Bureau has acknowledged that they have a problem with this and they are taking steps, improving training for example, to improve how the fingerprints are actually captured. Moisture is an issue with the quality of prints. The remaining issue is what to do about people whose fingerprints can’t be read.

SRM: I’m also wondering, can social security numbers be used as an element of background checks? Having sat for the employment exams for the 2010 Census, I know that it is mandatory to provide your social security number at that early stage.

RG: That already might be used, but I’m not sure. But people can change their social security numbers or use fraudulent social security numbers. That’s why it’s not as reliable. As we saw, just  the name background check can’t be the only tool used as criminals can get past that system.

SRM: Who do you hold accountable for these errors?

RG: This is something that the Census Bureau had no experience with. It’s clearly something that the Census Bureau and its parent agency, the Commerce Department, need to deal with. We’re not out to get anyone or point fingers. We want to see a successful census. I think the Census Bureau has acknowledged there’s a problem and they are going to work on it – and we are going to keep tabs on them. There are some smaller field operations coming up, but the big one is non-response follow up in the spring, to follow up with non-respondents. That’s going to be around 600,000 people hired. So we’re going to watch the Bureau’s progress in improving fingerprinting abilities.

SRM: On a related issue, I wrote about how the Census Bureau’s three Data Capture Centers may have similar human resources issues. Because, for example, in Baltimore, the Data Capture Center is run by contractor Lockheed Martin, who subcontracted the hiring efforts to Computer Sciences Corporation, I am wondering if the same rigid hiring standards that Census Bureau employees are subject to apply in these cases? I was told by Stephen Buckner, spokesman for the Census Bureau, that these employees are subject to the same standards, but a couple of loopholes that I noticed are that employees at these centers are not subject to drug tests or that because of time lags, people who undergo background investigations now might not start work for six months, meaning that they could potentially develop criminal records in the interim period. Can you address these issues?

RG: I’m not familiar with the specifics when contractors are involved.

SRM: What are the greatest challenges for the 2010 Census from your perspective?

RG: I’m glad you asked that because what we’ve been reporting on is much bigger than fingerprints. That’s certainly an issue, but the Bureau has other things they need to be concerned about as well. Speaking positively, the GAO has a high risk list, and we put the Census Bureau on this list in March 2008 because of weaknesses in the Census Bureau’s IT management, problems with the handheld computers, the difficulties they were having in coming up with the total cost of the decennial census, the fact that they did not conduct a full dress rehearsal, and on top of all that time was running out. And we put the decennial census on our high risk list because it’s a critical statistical program for the nation. Using March 2008 as an anchor point, we have seen that the Bureau has made a lot of progress in terms of risk mitigation. There is certainly a lot more work to be done but we are also encouraged by a lot of the improvements that we’ve been seeing. Certainly it was important to have a president appointed and senate confirmed Director (Robert M. Groves), so it’s certainly important that the top leadership is now firmly in place. We’re encouraged by some of the advisors that Dr. Groves has brought in who have experience from the 2000 Census. And we’re also encouraged by the fact that the Census Bureau acknowledges that they have a problem. The first step in solving a problem is acknowledging that you have one. But some of the areas that still concern us: IT management, requirements and testing plans have not been finalized, it’s difficult to track progress because of vague metrics, and some of the IT systems face tight implementation time-frames. Of all the IT systems, the one that we’re most concerned about is the paper-based operational control system (PBOCS).

SRM: Can you elaborate on that?

RG: That was the program that was put in place when they abandoned the handheld computers for non-response follow-up. So PBOCS basically controls the office workflow. There’s a lot of work to be done in terms of nailing down requirements and testing in the short time remaining. Basically, they have a lot of work to do and not a lot of time to do it before it needs to go live.

SRM: There was a Census employee named Bill Sparkman who was murdered about a month ago. Is your office involved in that investigation?

RG: No, not at all.

SRM: Do you have any comments on the recent decision for the Census Bureau to sever its ties with ACORN?

RG: The Bureau just needs to make sure that it has adequate guidance so that it can make a determination as to who they should partner with and who the shouldn’t.

MyTwoCensus Editorial: Keep Up The Good Work Dr. Groves!

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

At Dr. Robert M. Groves’ confirmation hearing to become the Director of the U.S. Census Bureau, it was reassuring to hear a career statistician and manager discuss his vision for a Bureau that was in great need of reform. However, at that time it was only natural to worry that Groves was simply a man of words who needed to get past what could have been a controversial confirmation process. Four months after making many promises to change the Bureau, Dr. Groves has proven that he follows through with actions.

Despite GOP partisans stalling Dr. Groves’ nomination over concerns that he would bring his political views to the 2010 Census, Dr. Groves’ has proven to a level-headed, fair, honest, transparent, and decisive leader. As he stated yesterday at his first major press conference, he is constantly trying to be persuaded to enter the political fray but fights every day to maintain his independence. Dr. Groves’ rejection of political overtures is what will make his tenure different than those of past Census Bureau leaders.

An excellent Census Bureau director must have superior statistical knowledge, superb management skills, and an ability to answer honestly to both politicians and the public. In his first months in this role, Dr. Groves has succeeded in all of these areas. With his decision to terminate the Census Bureau’s partnership with ACORN, Dr. Groves unequivocally proved himself as a leader who put the Bureau and the people of this nation ahead of the Democrats who supported him from day one and the president who nominated him.

Dr. Groves inherited a Census Bureau that was filled with disorganization, mismanagement, and a lack of foresight. Turning this agency around cannot occur overnight, and MyTwoCensus does not place blame on on Dr. Groves for most failures of the 2010 Census. Though his first 70 days in office have been marked by success and progress, there is still much work to be done with April 1, 2010 only six months away.

Live Blogging A Media Update From Census Director Robert M. Groves

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

9:51: I hope to have the full transcript of this press conference available soon.

9:50: I was able to fire off a question about the workers at Census Bureau processing facilities (Baltimore, Jeffersonville, Indiana, and Phoenix) and the type of screenings they undergo…stay tuned for more information on this subject in the near future. (Unfortunately my connection wasn’t so hot and Dr. Groves mentioned that he heard only every third word…)

9:40: OK – finally back on…Groves is discussing rural America and how to deal with the Census. I am in the que for questions – I will ask the following: What is your response to the IG’s report that ripped many parts of Census Bureau operations?

9:34: My line went dead. I’m back on now. Stephen Buckner is clarifying some questions now…come back…stupid conference call people arent listening to me and im stuck on hold. WHAT A SHITTY CONFERENCE CALL SERVICE! on hold for 3+ minutes for the 2nd time…great!

9:26: Some chick from FoxNews who sounds like an idiot is asking a question, “What will you tell the American people about your efforts to remain non-partisan?” – but she asks this in a DUMB DUMB DUMB way.

Groves doesn’t understand the question bc its a DUMB question. He maintains that this is apolitical. Groves notes that if he violates confidentiality he can go to prison for 5 years and pay 250k in a fine…i bet FoxNews runs away with that line.

9:23: Groves takes questions now. – Call cut out when question was asked… Running Census out of Washington DC alone doesn’t work. ACORN is just one of these groups. One of what will be 100,000. When one of our partners creates problems, we need to rethink this relationship. ACORN as a partner is impeding getting other partner agreements.

9:21: 4 changes for 2020 Census. 1. Use a master file 2. Internet reinterview study to test web vs. paper. 3. Match census records to administrative data bases acquired with other agencies. 4. large sample survey to measure quality of the census, he wants to improve this design to evaluate the process.

9:20: Groves wants to remain non-partisan. He wants to remain apolitical despite a ton of battles he must fight daily from people who want to get him involved in politics. There will be NOTHING on th einternet…if there is, its a scam.

9:15: A new team at the Bureau…Ken Prewitt and others brought in as consultants…key retirements could be problematic…for every 1% more people who return their Census form, you can save the federal government a ton of money.

9:09: Dr. Groves completed his personal transparency evaluation and he had a hearing yesterday on Capitol Hill to address this. He is happy with the 2010 Census design over the 2000 Census. He likes the short 10 question form. We learned in prior decades that long forms=bad as people are too busy. Sending bilingual questionnaires to targeted people…we will send replacement questionnaires when needed…improve massive address file…$1 billion in stimulus money given to the 2010 Census…this $$ used to improve access to small communities…

9:05: Dr. Groves is on the microphone…we are 6 months out, April 1, 2010 is looming ahead of us. He explains address canvassing process…Opening 500 local census offices throughout the country…last stages of our work are supervised, trained…everything is on schedule…we are printing questionnaires…printing 183,000,000 questionaires plus 15,000,000 bilingual questionnaires….using much of printing capacity of the usa, three large processing centers open: jeffersonville indiana, baltimore, and phoenix for scanning and scanning electronic data. this is going pretty well….we are in the middle of opening up call centers for assistance when people need it…first stages in the communications campaign…things are looking good…

9:04: Stephen Buckner, communications/PR  spokesman, is on the line…He announces that this is the first of many press conferences.

9:00:  Still waiting to get this show on a road…I’m sitting at a cafe in Copenhagen right now so it could be worse. However, I do wish I was at the National Press Club.

8:57:  I have been logged into the conference call and I am listening to classical music waiting for Dr. Groves to begin his briefing.

THE EVENT:

What:    U.S. Census Bureau Director Dr. Robert M. Groves will brief the media on the status of 2010 Census operations. Since taking the
helm of the Census Bureau in July, Groves has studied and
evaluated the key components of the national once-a-decade count.
He will provide an assessment of the internal and external
challenges facing the 2010 Census and the Census Bureau’s
readiness to meet them. He will take questions from media in
attendance.

When:    Wednesday, Sept. 23, 9 – 10 a.m. (EDT)

Who:     Dr. Robert M. Groves, director, U.S. Census Bureau

Where:   National Press Club, 13th floor
Fourth Estate Restaurant
529 14th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20045

How ACORN Got Dumped by the Census

Friday, September 18th, 2009

By Congressman Patrick McHenry (NC-10)

When ACORN was announced as a national partner with the Census Bureau, I had grave concerns that the accuracy and integrity of the 2010 census would be jeopardized.

One of ACORN’s responsibilities would have been to recruit census workers.  Given ACORN’s propensity for falsifying government documents, it seemed illogical that their employees would now be handling census forms.  The Census Bureau was, in effect, inviting fraud in the 2010 census.

As the Ranking Republican on the Census Oversight Subcommittee, I privately encouraged the Bureau to reconsider.  Subsequently, the Bureau and I engaged in a confrontational public dispute over their relationship with ACORN.

The Bureau would eventually listen to reason and agreed that ACORN could not be trusted to recruit census workers, but they continued to defend their partnership with this criminal enterprise.  When the despicable conduct of ACORN was caught on tape and broadcast on BigGoverment.com, the Bureau officially got out of the business of apologizing for ACORN.

New Census Bureau Director Robert Groves deserves our respect for doing the right thing.  Immediately following his confirmation, Director Groves pledged to me that he would seriously review ACORN’s partnership status.  It is clear to me that Director Groves had ACORN on a short leash.

Director Groves’ decision is particularly remarkable considering that he was appointed by a Democratic President with close ties to the group.  ACORN has essentially become the political field staff of the Democratic Party.  Without question, there are many people in the Obama Administration who are unhappy with Groves’ decision.

Being dropped by the Census Bureau is proving to be a tipping point for ACORN, which has received at least $53 million in taxpayer funding.  In March, Senator David Vitter offered an amendment that would have prevented ACORN from receiving additional federal funding.  That amendment failed 53-43.  On Monday, a similar amendment passed 83-7.

The floodgates have opened.  Today, the Los Angeles Times offered harsh words for ACORN in a scathing editorial and Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is questioning ACORN’s federal funding.

Now, every federal agency and every elected official must seriously reconsider their relationship with ACORN.

White House: ACORN Behavior Is Unacceptable

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Thanks to Jake Tapper of ABC News:

At today’s White House briefing, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, asked by ABC News about recent government actions taken against ACORN, had a forceful response.

“Obviously the conduct you see on those tapes is completely unacceptable,” Gibbs said, raising the issue of videotapes posted online by BigGovernment.com and aired frequently by Fox News Channel that seem to show ACORN employees advising a faux prostitute and faux pimp on how to skirt housing and tax laws. “The administration takes accountability extremely seriously.”

Gibbs said the Census Bureau decided that ACORN could not assist the group in meeting “the bureau’s goal of achieving a fair and accurate count in 2010″ and that some other agencies are evaluating their relationship with the group. “We constantly evaluate to ensure that any grantee is living up to what has to happen in order to fulfill that grant application.”

ACORN Loses Funding…A Probe Underway?

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Just days after MyTwoCensus worried about potential trouble from ACORN as the 2010 Census gets underway, Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves severed ties with the organization in its role as a community partner. The Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor (83-7) of withholding millions of federal dollars from ACORN. Here’s the report with some important updated from the Wall Street Journal:

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones)–Congressional Republicans stepped up calls to end federal funding of Acorn and begin an immediate investigation of possible criminal violations by the community organizational group whose activities have long been criticized by conservatives.

House Republicans wrote President Barack Obama on Tuesday asking him to end federal support for the Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now, or Acorn. The White House had no immediate comment.

House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio and Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., are cosponsoring legislation to bar federal funds for Acorn pending an investigation by Congress, the Justice Department or the Internal Revenue Service.

Acorn spokesman Brian Kettenring said the group’s members are focused on “solving the health-care and foreclosure crises that Rep. Boehner is ignoring. We encourage him to write letters all he likes, but we would also advise him to focus on the real needs of his constituents and the American people.”

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., the senior Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, also urged a close look before Acorn receives another penny of taxpayer money, including any funding through a $787 billion economic stimulus package.

The Senate voted 83-7 on Monday to prevent Acorn from receiving federal housing funds in fiscal 2010, which starts Oct. 1. The move comes after Acorn employees in several cities were videotaped offering tax tips and mortgage-application help to individuals posing as pimps and prostitutes; the applicants actually were conservatives who secretly taped the discussions.

Separately, prosecutors in Florida last week issued warrants for several Acorn employees who allegedly falsified voter-registration records in Florida during the 2008 election.

Acorn has received more than $53 million of direct federal funding since 1994 and likely received more indirectly through federal block grants to states and local governments, House Republicans said. But recent allegations are taking a toll: Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau severed plans to work with Acorn on the 2010 census.

Shelby’s concerns were outlined in letters Tuesday to Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and to the inspector general of the Housing and Urban Development Department. Besides the videotapes, Shelby cited reports of Acorn employees’ involvement in voter-registration fraud outside Florida, embezzlement by a relative of Acorn’s founder, and the loss of federal grants after Acorn was found to have improperly used funds for lobbying.

Acorn’s spokesman responded by calling for an investigation into Shelby’s support for financial deregulation, which he said hurt U.S. consumers and contributed to “the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression.”

Shelby was one of eight U.S. senators to vote against a 1999 law that loosened Depression-era restrictions on U.S. commercial banks.

A spokesman for the Alabama Republican pointed to Shelby’s efforts to strengthen bank capital standards and overhaul federal mortgage-finance giants Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac (FRE), and his receipt of a 2005 public-service award from the Consumer Federation of America.

“Senator Shelby’s record on these matters is clear,” his spokesman said in a statement.

Census Director Robert M. Groves’ Letter To Sever Ties With ACORN

Monday, September 14th, 2009

Find the letter below:

September 11, 2009

Ms. Maude Hurd

President

ACORN

739 8th St SE

Washington, DC 20003

Dear Ms. Hurd:

The goal of the U.S. Census Bureau’s partnership program is to combine the strengths of state, local, and tribal governments, community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, schools, media, businesses and others to ensure an accurate 2010 Census. While not (sic) Census bureau employees, partners are advocates for census cooperation and participation. They serve a trusted voices within their communities and are critical to our strategy to count everyone once, only once, and in the right place.

The Census Bureau has established criteria for partnerships, which are listed on our Web site at <www.census.gov >, and reserves the right to decline partnership or to terminate an existing partnership agreement with any group that 1) may create a negative connotation for the Census Bureau; 2) could distract from the Census Bureau’s mission; or, 3) may make people fearful of participating in the census.

To that end, and in keeping with the standards we shared with your organization and others who volunteered to partner with the Census Bureau to help promote the 2010 Census, we are today terminating our Partnership Agreement with ACORN.

Over the last several months, through ongoing communication with our regional offices, it is clear that ACORN’s affiliation with the 2010 Census promotion has caused sufficient concern in the general public, has indeed become a distraction from our mission, and may even become a discouragement to public cooperation, negatively impacting 2010 Census efforts.

While not decisive factors in this decision, recent events concerning several local offices of ACORN have added to the worsening negative perceptions of ACORN and its affiliation with our partnership efforts.

We do not come to this decision lightly. It was our original assessment that your organization could be helpful in encouraging cooperation with the 2010 Census among individuals who are historically hard to count, including renters, low-income residents, the linguistically isolated, and others. As of today, we have close to 80,000 partnership agreements with national and local groups – many of whom are trusted voices and serve these same populations – and we will be relying upon those groups to continue our outreach in the communities you serve. The full participation of those populations remains of utmost importance to us.

Unfortunately, we no longer have confidence that our national partnership agreement is being effectively managed through your many local offices. For the reasons stated, we therefore have decided to terminate the partnership.

Respectfully,

Robert M. Groves

Director

MyTwoCensus.com Plays Significant Role In Decision To Dump ACORN

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Just hours after the below letter was circulated to members of Congress, Census Director Robert M. Groves decided to drop ACORN from its role as a partner organization with the 2010 Census:

Spot Check: ACORN

Dear Colleague:

I would like to direct your attention to the following post by Stephen Robert Morse on MyTwoCensus.com, an independent watchdog blog on the 2010 Decennial Census.

Mr. Morse was attempting to determine whether ACORN is recruiting census workers.  The Census Bureau has assured the Subcommittee on the Census that it instructed ACORN over the telephone not to recruit enumerators.  However, I am concerned that this message has not been thoroughly transmitted to the entire organization.

We will be requesting documentation that the Census Bureau has sufficiently notified ACORN of its approved responsibilities as a 2010 Decennial Census partner.  Simple written instruction from the Bureau to ACORN would help allay public fears about their involvement in the census.

The majority of recruitment of temporary census workers will not begin until the end of the calendar year.  I and my colleagues on the Subcommittee will continue to stay vigilant regarding ACORN’s involvement in the 2010 Census and work with the Census Bureau to ensure an apolitical and accurate decennial count.

Sincerely,


PATRICK T. McHENRY

Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Information Policy,
Census, and National Archives

BREAKING NEWS: CENSUS BUREAU CUTS OFF ACORN, EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY!

Friday, September 11th, 2009

The following comes from Hope Yen of the Associated Press, but has also been reported by nearly every major news outlet:

WASHINGTON — The Census Bureau on Friday severed its ties with ACORN, a community organization that has been hit with Republican accusations of voter-registration fraud. “We do not come to this decision lightly,” Census director Robert Groves wrote in a letter to ACORN, which was obtained by The Associated Press.

In splitting with ACORN, Groves sought to tamp down GOP concerns and negative publicity that the partnership will taint the 2010 head count.

“It is clear that ACORN’s affiliation with the 2010 census promotion has caused sufficient concern in the general public, has indeed become a distraction from our mission, and may even become a discouragement to public cooperation, negatively impacting 2010 census efforts,” Groves wrote.

Stephen Buckner, a census spokesman, confirmed the letter, but declined additional comment.

ACORN spokesman Scott Levenson did not immediately return a request for comment.

In recent months, Republicans have become increasingly critical of the census’ ties with ACORN, which stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. The group, which advocates for poor people, conducted a massive voter registration effort last year and became a target of conservatives when some employees were accused of submitting false registration forms with names such as “Mickey Mouse.”

ACORN has said only a handful of employees submitted false registration forms and did so in a bid to boost their pay.

Partly citing ACORN’s role, Sens. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and David Vitter, R-La., earlier this year blocked a full confirmation vote of Groves for several weeks. Rep. Michelle Bachman, R-Minn., also has been calling for a census boycott because of her concerns about whether the group would tamper with the high-stakes population count.

Up to now, the Census Bureau had defended ACORN’s involvement, explaining it was one of 80,000 unpaid volunteer groups that the bureau hoped would be able to raise local awareness. But in his letter, Groves said it no longer had confidence that ACORN was effectively managing its partnership.

ACORN fired two employees who were seen on hidden-camera video giving tax advice to a man posing as a pimp and a woman who pretended to be a prostitute. Fox News Channel broadcast excerpts from the video on Thursday. On the video, a man and woman visiting ACORN’s Baltimore office asked about buying a house and how to account on tax forms for the woman’s income. An ACORN employee advised the woman to list her occupation as “performance artist.”

In a statement, ACORN Maryland board member Margaret Williams said the video was an attempt to smear ACORN, and that undercover teams attempted similar setups in at least three other ACORN offices. Williams said no tax returns were filed and no assistance was provided.

The ACORN Investigations Continue…

Friday, September 11th, 2009

We hate to keep beating this story to a bloody pulp, this is yet another day where ACORN has been featured prominently in the news for its wrongdoings. When I woke up this morning, the following story was the #1 headline on CNN.com:

(CNN) — Two employees at the Baltimore, Maryland, branch of the liberal community organizing group ACORN were caught on tape allegedly offering advice to a pair posing as a pimp and prostitute on setting up a prostitution ring and evading the IRS.

The footage, which appears to have been edited in places, was recorded and posted online Thursday.

The footage, which appears to have been edited in places, was recorded and posted online Thursday.

The video footage — which has been edited and goes to black in some areas — was recorded and and posted online Thursday by James O’Keefe, a conservative activist. He was joined on the video by another conservative, Hannah Giles, who posed as the prostitute in the filmmakers’ undercover sting.

The video shows the pair approaching two women working at the ACORN Baltimore office and asking them for advice on how to set up a prostitution ring involving more than a dozen underage girls from El Salvador.

One of the ACORN workers suggests that Giles refer to herself as a “performing artist” on tax forms and declare some of the girls as dependents to receive child tax credits.

“Stop saying prostitution,” the woman, identified by the filmmaker as an ACORN tax expert, tells Giles. The other woman tells them, “You want to keep them clean … make sure they go to school.” Video Watch tape of alleged advice on prostitution »

Both women appear enthusiastic to help.

Calls to ACORN’s Baltimore offices were not immediately returned Thursday. A local spokeswoman told The Associated Press that both employees seen in the video were fired.

“The portrayal is false and defamatory and an attempt at ‘gotcha journalism,’ ” said Scott Levenson, a spokesman at ACORN’s national offices. “This film crew tried to pull this sham at other offices and failed. ACORN wants to see the full video before commenting further.”

The conservative filmmakers unsuccessfully attempted similar ruses at the group’s offices in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Los Angeles, California, and New York, Levenson said.

Law enforcement officials in the Baltimore area wouldn’t confirm whether they are investigating the alleged incident at the local ACORN office. However, authorities said that under Maryland law, such undercover video may not be admissible in court as evidence.

CNN attempted to reach O’Keefe and Giles; O’Keefe was not available for comment and Giles canceled an interview scheduled for Thursday.

ACORN — an acronym for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now — made headlines last year when Republican groups seized on allegations of voter registration fraud by the group in Florida and several other states, claiming its workers were trying to push the election in Barack Obama’s favor.

On Wednesday, arrest warrants were issued for 11 Florida voter registration workers suspected of submitting false information on hundreds of voter registration cards, according to court documents. The Florida investigation was triggered by ACORN officials who noticed irregularities in forms they were receiving.

ACORN turns in Fla. workers on voter fraud charges

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

Just a week after I announced the findings of my spot check of ACORN’s activities in regard to the 2010 Census, the organization is back in the news in a very bad way. Check out the following report from Curt Anderson of the Associated Press:

MIAMI — Armed with a tip from the grassroots group ACORN about its own workers, authorities on Wednesday began arresting 11 people suspected of falsifying hundreds of voter applications during a registration drive last year.

ACORN, which stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, has long been accused by Republican and conservative activists — fed by talk-radio hosts — of fraudulently registering voters. But Miami-Dade prosecutors gave credit to the group for coming forward and ACORN officials said they felt vindicated.

“It shows that we take the integrity of our voter registration work with the utmost seriousness,” said ACORN spokesman Brian Kettenring. “We turn in people who try to game the system.”

Although ACORN is nonpartisan, its registration efforts focus on low-income and minority populations who tend to vote for Democrats; critics contend those efforts frequently bend or break registration rules. At times during the 2008 presidential campaign, people attending rallies for Republican nominee John McCain broke into chants of “No More ACORN!”

Last year, ACORN’s national drive produced some 1.3 million voter applications.

ACORN first detected problems in Miami-Dade County in June 2008, according to a letter the group wrote to prosecutors. Investigators eventually determined that 11 canvassers, who were paid between $8 and $10 an hour, were turning in fake registration cards, mostly from the Homestead area.

“This is really about money. These are people who decided not to work,” said Ed Griffith, spokesman for Miami-Dade State Attorney Katharine Fernandez Rundle.

The 11 workers each face multiple counts of two felony charges: false swearing in connection with voting and submission of false voter registration information. Each count is punishable by up to five years in prison.

The suspects collectively turned in about 1,400 registration cards, of which 888 were later found to be faked. Some contained names of celebrities such as actor Paul Newman, while in other cases the same real voter’s name was used on multiple applications. There was no evidence anyone voted who should not have.

The FBI and Florida Department of Law Enforcement had made five arrests by midday and were looking for the remaining suspects. ACORN officials said the group regularly reports suspected fraud to authorities nationwide but the Miami prosecution marks one of the few times the complaints were taken seriously.

ACORN itself last year was the subject of fraudulent registration complaints in Missouri, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Ohio, Michigan and North Carolina, among others.

Spot Check: ACORN

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

So, the Census Bureau has assured members of Congress that ACORN is NOT involved in the recruiting process for candidates hoping to be among the 1.4 million Americans who will work for the 2010 Census. I decided to contact a bunch of ACORN offices throughout the country and ask them if they could help get me a job to see if this was true. Here’s what I found:

Note: More than half of the ACORN offices I called had phone lines that were no longer active. Some of the e-mail addresses I contacted were also no longer working and bounced back to me. (Hmmm…Do you think that ACORN’s bad publicity during the past yer could have caused the organization to lose just a little bit of non-profit funding? It certainly looks that way to me.)

When I called each office, I said, “Hi, I heard that you could help me get a job with the 2010 Census. What do I have to do?”

Washington DC ACORN – “We have no idea. You have to take a test with the Census. Do you know how to go to that site? We have nothing with the Census Bureau. You have to go on the web site then go to www.ACORN.org…”

Pittsburgh ACORN – “We don’t have that contract.  I don’t know who has it. You know the Hill House? They have a new employment center. Those people should know who’s hiring for the 2010 Census.”

Philadelphia ACORN – “I don’t know too much about the census. We are one of a couple of thousand partnership organizations. We haven’t had any information yet, but you should try back in a couple of weeks.”

Atlanta ACORN – “Go online to ACORN.org and that’s where you’d have to put the application in. That’s where you would put your application in.”

At this point, her phone line went down and she kindly called me back from her cell phone. She had me send her an e-mail with my request as her land-line phone was experiencing problems. I sent her an e-mail but it bounced back to me.

Among the ACORN offices I e-mailed, I received only one response, and it came from the Southern regional office:

To Whom It May Concern:

I am currently out of work, and I heard that ACORN was hiring for the Census. Can you please let me know how I can work for the Census in our area?

Thank you very much,

Stephen Robert Morse

The e-mail responses:

Dear Mr. Morse:

Thank you for contacting ACORN.

Unfortunately, no one we know of at ACORN has any idea where this notion came from.  We have no census work, never heard of any and don’t expect to hear of any census work.

Please contact the U.S. Census bureau or your local congressperson for information regarding working with the census.

Best regards,

G. Brown

CONCLUSION: At this time, it doesn’t appear that ACORN is recruiting on a national level to attract candidates to work for the 2010 Census, but that’s today, September 2. Local offices, such as the one in Atlanta, were quite quick to help me out.  The major recruiting efforts for the 2010 Census don’t take place until later this fall, so we’ll just have to wait and see what involvement ACORN has in this process.

Is ACORN recruiting for the 2010 Census? The GOP thinks so!

Monday, August 10th, 2009

The GOP wants some questions answered from the man at the top, Robert M. Groves:

McHenry: Is ACORN recruiting census workers or not?
Internal documents at odds with Bureau’s claims to Congress

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Patrick McHenry, Ranking Member on the Census Oversight Subcommittee sent a letter to the U.S. Census Bureau concerning its partnership with ACORN.

While the Bureau has reported to Congress that ACORN is not recruiting census workers, internal documents contradict this claim.

Assuming the Bureau can reconcile these contradictions and verify that ACORN has been instructed not to recruit census workers, Congressman McHenry asked, “If ACORN has been singled out in such a manner because of its long criminal history, it begs the question, why are they a national partner in the first place?  If they cannot be trusted to recruit enumerators, it would seem to me that ACORN should be disqualified as a partner altogether.”

Dr. Robert M. Groves
Director
U.S. Census Bureau
4600 Silver Hill Road
Suitland, MD 20746

Dear Dr. Groves:

On July 10, 2009, Acting Director Thomas Mesenbourg wrote a letter to Congress clarifying the partnership role of the political advocacy group ACORN, Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.  Mr. Mesenbourg stated definitively that ACORN “will not be involved in recruiting or hiring census employees.”[1] However, information has come to my attention that requires further clarification from the Bureau.

Documents from the Bureau obtained by Judicial Watch contradict Mr. Mesenbourg’s letter to Congress.  One such document details the organization’s partnership responsibilities, including “Identify job candidates and/or distribute and display recruiting materials.”  Bearing his signature from February 12, 2009, this form indicates that Mr. Mesenbourg approved ACORN’s role as a recruiter of census enumerators.[2]

Furthermore, promotional materials for the national partnership program indicate very clearly that partners will play a role in recruiting enumerators.[3]

A) How do you reconcile this evidence with Mr. Mesenbourg’s letter to Congress?

B) If ACORN has been instructed specifically not to recruit enumerators, please provide
the dated correspondence between the Bureau and ACORN that verifies this.

C) Additionally, please provide a list of other national partners that have been instructed
not to recruit enumerators.

D) If ACORN has been singled out in such a manner because of its long criminal history,
it begs the question, why are they a national partner in the first place?  If they cannot
be trusted to recruit enumerators, it would seem to me that ACORN should be
disqualified as a partner altogether.

In a document provided to Congress, the Bureau states that partnering organizations would be disqualified if they “could distract from the Census Bureau’s mission.”[4] An internal document from the Bureau states that groups will be disqualified if they “might make people fearful of participating in the Census.”[5]

E) How does the criminal background of ACORN reflect positively on the Census
Bureau’s mission?

F) As a criminal enterprise, how could ACORN in no way distract from the Bureau’s
mission?

Please submit written responses to the questions above to the Subcommittee on Information Policy, Census, and National Archives by August 24, 2009.  Should you have any questions or need any additional information, please contact Alexis Rudakewych at (202) 225-2576.

Sincerely,

Patrick T. McHenry
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Information Policy,
Census, and National Archives

[1]  See Bureau letter to Mr. McHenry (July 20, 2009)
[2]  See Bureau partnership form (February 12, 2009)
[3]  See Bureau Form D-3207, Become a 2010 Census Partner, (April 2008)
[4]  See 2010 Census Partnership Program, Partner Selection Process and Guidelines, page 2
[5]  See Email, Barbara A. Harris, (March 17, 2009)

Can Harry Reid Make Robert M. Groves’ Confirmation Happen?

Thursday, July 9th, 2009

Well, now we know where the holdup came from! It was not one, but two senators, David Vitter (R-LA) and Richard Shelby (R-Al) who have been blocking Robert M. Groves’ confirmation to become the next U.S. Census Director. MyTwoCensus is inquiring with both of these Senator’s offices and we will be able to have their responses for you within the next 24 hours. We give a hearty hat tip to Roll Call for the following report:

By Jessica Brady
Roll Call Staff
July 9, 2009

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is looking to force a vote as early as this week on the stalled nomination of Robert Groves to lead the Census Bureau, hoping to harness his new 60-seat majority to overcome holds by a pair of Republicans.

“I think we’re going to have a cloture vote,” Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said Wednesday, noting that Reid will likely file a procedural motion to advance the long-stalled nomination.

Republican Sens. Richard Shelby (Ala.) and David Vitter (La.) each have holds on Groves, director of the University of Michigan’s Survey Research Center and a former Census Bureau official, over concerns he would use statistical sampling for the 2010 effort. Republicans charge that the technique, designed to better capture undercounted groups such as minorities, is unconstitutional and a political maneuver.

But Democrats who favor Groves’ installment as Census Bureau director are eager to get him in place before the national population count officially gets under way in just eight months.

“The reality is this census is already hopping on one leg,” Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (N.J.) said, expressing fear that “Latinos and other minorities are going to be severely undercounted.”

Carper last month called a meeting with Sens. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), the chairman and ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, to hatch a plan to unlock the GOP hold on Groves. There has been no follow-up to the June 16 meeting, both Carper and Collins said. The Homeland Security panel has jurisdiction over the Census Bureau.

“I still think he should be confirmed. He’s well-qualified, and I don’t know why some of my colleagues have a hold on him,” Collins said of Groves, who was confirmed by her panel on a unanimous vote on May 20.

But Vitter and Shelby have been unrelenting in their holds, demanding assurances from the White House including a guarantee from President Barack Obama that the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, which came under fire in 2008 over allegations of voter fraud, would not participate in the 2010 effort.

“Sen. Vitter is holding the Groves nomination until he gets written confirmation from the White House addressing two concerns: that sampling will not be used and that ACORN will have nothing to do with the census,” Vitter spokesman Joel DiGrado said.

Shelby wrote a letter to the president in March to question ACORN’s involvement in the census.

The census, conducted every 10 years, assesses the nation’s population and demographic makeup and influences the allocation of Congressional districts throughout the country. Next year’s head count will cost at least $14 billion, and according to a report by the Government Accountability Office issued in March, preparations for 2010 are ill-managed and behind schedule.

In addition to hefty legislative priorities and the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, Reid has a backlog of two-dozen executive nominations awaiting floor consideration. The Majority Leader has had to use procedural rules to break GOP opposition on several nominations so far this year.

“We of course want to confirm all of these nominees as quickly as possible,” Reid spokeswoman Regan LaChapelle said in a statement Wednesday. “It is unfortunate to have to use precious floor time on these nominations, all of which so far have eventually been confirmed. We have so many important issues to address and the president needs his full team.”

Republicans Encourage Bachmann to End Census Boycott

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

The following is a press release from Rep. Patrick McHenry’s (R-NC) office:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Brock McCleary
July 1, 2009 Phone: (202) 225-2576
Republicans Encourage Bachmann
to End Census Boycott
WASHINGTON – Congressman Patrick McHenry (NC-10), Congressman Lynn Westmoreland (GA-3), and Congressman John Mica (FL-7), Republican members of the Census Oversight Subcommittee, released the following statement regarding Congresswoman Michele Bachmann’s boycott of the 2010 Decennial Census.

“We share Ms. Bachmann’s concerns about ACORN’s involvement in the 2010 Census and will continue pressuring the Bureau to follow their own guidelines for partnering organizations and dump ACORN.  However, we can not emphasize enough how important it is for every individual to fill out their census forms.

“Every elected representative in this country should feel a responsibility to encourage full participation in the census.  To do otherwise is to advocate for a smaller share of federal funding for our constituents.  Boycotting the constitutionally-mandated census is illogical, illegal and not in the best interest of our country.

“The unfortunate irony is that Ms. Bachmann’s boycott only increases the likelihood that ACORN-recruited census takers will be dispatched to her constituents’ homes.  Anyone who completes and returns their census form will remove any need for a census taker to visit their residence.

“Furthermore, a boycott opens the door for partisans to statistically adjust census results.  The partisan manipulation of census data would irreparably transform the census from being the baseline of our entire statistical system into a tool used to wield political power in Washington.”

NOTE: The 2010 Decennial Census, not to be confused with the American Community Survey, will strictly utilize a short-form questionnaire for the first time ever.  Under Sections 9 and 24 of Title 13, information collected by the Census Bureau is confidential and not shared with any other federal agency.  Only an act of Congress could alter this statute.

###

At It Again: Rep. Michele Bachmann Warns Of Link Between Census, Japanese Internment

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Thanks to TPM for the following report about the arch nemesis of the 2010 U.S. Census:

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is taking her refusal to fully fill out her Census form, which is a crime punishable by a $5,000 fine, to a whole new level: Invoking the memory of the Japanese internment during World War II, and the evil role that the Census played in it!

During an interview this morning on Fox News, Bachmann mostly focused on the danger of her personal information falling into the hands of the dreaded menace ACORN. But at one point, she made a very interesting appeal to history:

“Take this into consideration. If we look at American history, between 1942 and 1947, the data that was collected by the Census Bureau was handed over to the FBI and other organizations at the request of President Roosevelt, and that’s how the Japanese were rounded up and put into the internment camps,” said Bachmann. “I’m not saying that that’s what the Administration is planning to do, but I am saying that private personal information that was given to the Census Bureau in the 1940s was used against Americans to round them up, in a violation of their constitutional rights, and put the Japanese in internment camps.”

Congresswoman Refuses To Participate in 2010 Census

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

According to the Minnesota Independent, “Rep. Michele Bachmann told the Washington Times on Wednesday that she will not be filling out all the questions on next year’s census because ACORN will be one of the federal government’s many community partners for conducting the census. But what she is proposing to do is illegal, the Times reports.

“I know for my family the only question we will be answering is how many people are in our home,” she said. “We won’t be answering any information beyond that, because the Constitution doesn’t require any information beyond that.”

“There’s great concern that’s being raised because now ACORN has been named as one of the federal partners… This is very concerning because the motherload of all data comes from the census,” she said.

But as the paper reports, Bachmann is “misreading” the law — and it could cost her family $100 per question left unanswered.”

NOTE: Below, please find an audio recording of Bachmann’s interview with The Washington Times.

ACORN is back in the news…

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

Below, Congressman Steve King discussed Democrat efforts to block his amendment keeping ACORN of out the 2010 census with FOXNEWS on June 17, 2009: