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 ‘Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now’

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

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.

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.”

ACORN’s back (in the spotlight) and its better than ever…

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

We knew that it was too good to be true that we’ve gone through a few ACORN-less weeks. We didn’t hold our breath. Ostensibly, within the next 24 hours, the GOP will be back on the hunt for ACORN’s blood and the left will be dismissive of this “community group’s” abilities to harm the 2010 Census. Nowadays, simply uttering the word ACORN creates the extreme partisanship that is detrimental to obtaining the main goal of the 2010 Census: Obtaining an accurate count.

ACORN has been indicted in Nevada, so here we go again…Here’s the scoop from the Associated Press:

Nevada charges ACORN illegally paid to sign voters

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada authorities filed criminal charges Monday against the political advocacy group ACORN and two former employees, alleging they illegally paid canvassers to sign up new voters during last year’s presidential campaign.

ACORN denied the charges and said it would defend itself in court.

Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now had a handbook and policies requiring employees in Las Vegas to sign up 20 new voters per day to keep their $8- to $9-per-hour jobs.

Canvassers who turned in 21 new voter registrations earned a “blackjack” bonus of $5 per shift, Masto added. Those who didn’t meet the minimum were fired.

“By structuring employment and compensation around a quota system, ACORN facilitated voter registration fraud,” Masto said. She accused ACORN executives of hiding behind and blaming employees, and vowed to hold the national nonprofit corporation accountable for training manuals that she said “clearly detail, condone and … require illegal acts.”

Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller emphasized the case involved “registration fraud, not voter fraud,” and insisted that no voters in Nevada were paid for votes and no unqualified voters were allowed to cast ballots.

Law enforcement agencies in about a dozen states investigated fake voter registration cards submitted by ACORN during the 2008 presidential election campaign, but Nevada is the first to bring charges against the organization, ACORN officials said.

ACORN has said the bogus cards listing such names as “Mickey Mouse” and “Donald Duck” represented less than 1 percent of the 1.3 million collected nationally and were completed by lazy workers trying to get out of canvassing neighborhoods. The organization has said it notified election officials whenever such bogus registrations were suspected.

ACORN spokesman Scott Levenson denied the Nevada allegations on behalf of ACORN, which works to get low-income people to vote and lists offices in 41 states and the District of Columbia. He blamed former rogue employees for the alleged wrongdoing.

“Our policy all along has been to pay workers at an hourly rate and to not pay employees based on any bonus or incentive program,” he said. “When it was discovered that an employee was offering bonuses linked to superior performance, that employee was ordered to stop immediately.”

Levenson said the two former ACORN organizers named in Monday’s criminal complaint — Christopher Howell Edwards and Amy Adele Busefink — no longer work for ACORN and would not be represented by the organization.

Edwards, 33, of Gilroy, Calif., and Busefink, 26, of Seminole, Fla., could not immediately be reached for comment.

Masto identified Edwards as the ACORN Las Vegas office field director in 2008, and said timesheets indicate that ACORN corporate officers were aware of the “blackjack” bonus program and failed to stop it. The attorney general said Busefink was ACORN’s deputy regional director.

The complaint filed in Las Vegas Justice Court accuses ACORN and Edwards each of 13 counts of compensation for registration of voters, and Busefink of 13 counts of principle to the crime of compensation for registration of voters. Each charge carries the possibility of probation or less than 1 year in jail, Masto said.

A court hearing was scheduled June 3 in Las Vegas, prosecutor Conrad Hafen said.