Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Obama and Acorn: The Truth Instead of Lies


Barack Obama Never Organized with ACORN

Discredited Republican voter-suppression guru Ken Blackwell is attacking Barack Obama with naked lies about his supposed connection to ACORN.

• Fact: Barack was never an ACORN community organizer.
• Fact: Barack was never an ACORN trainer and never worked for ACORN in any other capacity.
• Fact: ACORN was not part of Project Vote, the successful voter registration drive Barack ran in 1992.

In his capacity as an attorney, Barack represented ACORN in a successful lawsuit alongside the U.S. Department of Justice against the state of Illinois to force state compliance with a federal voting access law. For his work helping enforce the law, called “Motor Voter,” Barack received the IVI-IPO Legal Eagle Award in 1995. (For more about Barack’s career, check out our Obama bio.)

Ken Blackwell is best known today for disenfranchising Democratic voters in his dual role as Ohio Secretary of State and chair of George Bush’s Ohio campaign in 2004. To see him shed crocodile tears for the integrity of the vote while making accusations about Barack and ACORN with absolutely no basis in fact is disturbing.

Blackwell’s attacks against ACORN and community organizers continue a vile Republican pattern of mockery and viciousness against this noble profession. Community organizers are the very individuals Republicans should be celebrating for helping people to help themselves rather than depending on the government.

Obama’s Voter Registration Drive Registered 150,000 New Voters, The Highest Number of a Single Local Effort. In 1993, Crain’s Chicago wrote of Obama’s effort to register voters for Bill Clinton’s election, “Last year, Barack Obama galvanized Chicago’s political community, as no seasoned politico had before. The director of Illinois Project Vote orchestrated an unwieldy band of 10 staff members and 700 volunteers to the tune of 150,000 new voters for the general election — the highest number registered in a single local effect. ‘Under Barack’s leadership, we had the most successful, cost-effective and orderly voter registration drive I’ve ever been involved with,’ says Alderman Sam Burrell of the West Side’s 29th Ward.” [Crain’s Chicago Business, 9/27/93]

Chicago Magazine: Obama Headed “Most Effective Minority Voter Registration Drive.” Chicago Magazine reported, “None of this, of course, was accidental. The most effective minority voter registration drive in memory was the result of careful handiwork by Project Vote!, the local chapter of a not-for-profit national organization. "It was the most efficient campaign I have seen in my 20 years in politics," says Sam Burrell, alderman of the West Side’s 29th Ward and a veteran of many registration drives. At the head of this effort was a little-known 31-year-old African-American lawyer, community organizer, and writer: Barack Obama.” [Chicago Magazine, 1/93]

National Project Vote Director Sandy Newman: Obama Did “One Hell of a Job.” Chicago Magazine reported, ““Project Vote! is nonpartisan, strictly nonpartisan. But we do focus our efforts on minority voters, and on states where we can explain to them why their vote will matter. Braun made that easier in Illinois.” So [Sandy] Newman decided to open a Cook County Project Vote! office and went looking for someone to head it. The name Barack Obama surfaced. “I was asking around among community activists in Chicago and around the country, and they kept mentioning him,” Newman says. Obama by then was working with church and community leaders on the West Side, and he was writing a book that the publisher Simon & Schuster had contracted for while he was editor of the law review. He was 30 years old. When Newman called, Obama agreed to put his other work aside. “I’m still not quite sure why,” Newman says. “This was not glamorous, high-paying work. But I am certainly grateful. He did one hell of a job.” [Chicago Magazine, 1/93]

Obama Trained Registrars And Ran Media Saturation Campaign. Chicago Magazine reported, “Within a few months, Obama, a tall, affable workaholic, had recruited staff and volunteers from black churches, community groups, and politicians. He helped train 700 deputy registrars, out of a total of 11,000 citywide. And he began a saturation media campaign with the help of black-owned Brainstorm Communications.” [Chicago Magazine, 1/93]

Close Daley Advisor: “Barack Ran This Superbly.” Chicago Magazine reported, “Some of Daley’s closest advisers are similarly impressed. “In its technical demands, a voter-registration drive is not unlike a mini-political campaign,” says John Schmidt, chairman of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority and a fundraiser for Project Vote! “Barack ran this superbly. I have no doubt he could run an equally good political campaign if that’s what he decided to do next.”” [Chicago Magazine, 1/93]

Project Vote Credited With Voter Registration Surge. The Wall Street Journal reported, “Voting experts at the Democratic National Committee point to surging registration in several big cities, such as Detroit, Chicago and Philadelphia. Most of that work has been done by the nonpartisan Project Vote, a voter participation organization based in Washington, D.C. Its director, Sandy Newman, says his group has helped to register 150,000 new voters, almost all of them black, in Pennsylvania; 110,000 in Chicago; 70,000 in Michigan; 40,000 in Ohio; and 160,000 (with the help of the New York Public Interest Research Group) in New York City. With the exception of New York, where Mr. Clinton holds a big lead, these are all battleground states, and most of these voters will cast their ballots for Mr. Clinton.” [Wall Street Journal, 10/30/92]

Chicago Sun Times Headline: “‘Project Vote’ Brings Power to the People.” The Chicago Sun-Times reported, “Project Vote, a collectivity of 10 church-based community organizations dedicated to black voter registration, is off and running. Project Vote is increasing its rolls at a 7,000-per-week clip. Just last Saturday it registered 2,000 during the Chicago Defender’s annual Bud Billiken Parade.” [Chicago Sun-Times, 8/11/92]


Obama And Other Attorneys Represented ACORN In Their Suit Against The State Of Illinois To Force It To Implement The 1993 Motor Voter Law. In 2007, the AP reported, “Representing the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), Obama and other attorneys sued the state of Illinois, forcing it to implement federal ‘Motor Voter’ legislation that makes it easier for the poor and minorities to register to vote.” According the U.S. Court Of Appeals, 7th Circuit docket for ACORN v. Edgar, “Appellees, United States and others, sought to force appellant State of Illinois to comply with the provisions of the National Registration Act of 1993 (motor voter law)…The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted the United States an injunction that compelled the State of Illinois to enforce the motor voter law. The State of Illinois appealed…On appeal, the State of Illinois argued that Congress could not force state governments to administer a federal program that facilitated the registration of voters in federal elections. The court stated that Congress had the power to regulate federal elections under the powers granted by [the U.S. Constitution] mandated the states to initially set up the system of federal elections within their own jurisdiction, subject to the whims of Congress. The court found that these powers and mandates implicitly extended to voter registration as well. [AP, 2/20/07; ACORN, et al v. Edgar, Nos. 95-1800, 95-1801, 95-1802, 95-1803]

Ø Obama Was One Of Three Miner Barnhill Attorneys To Represent ACORN When The Illinois State Board Of Elections Attempted To Dismiss The U.S. District Court’s Order In ACORN v. Edgar In Late 1995. Miner Barnhill Attorneys Obama, Judson Miner, and Jeffrey Cummings were listed as Counsel for ACORN when the Illinois State Board Of Elections attempted to dismiss the U.S. District Court’s order in ACORN v. Edgar in November 1995. On January 26, 1996, the U.S. Court Of Appeals denied the Board’s motion. According to the court’s opinion, “The court dismissed the appeal of defendant governor and other state officials because the district court had not issued a final order from which an appeal could be brought. [ACORN v. Illinois State Board Of Elections, et al. No. 95-3456, U.S. Court Of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit]

Ø Obama Was Listed As The Lead Attorney For ACORN In Court Proceeding Regarding Illinois Motor Voter Implementation Plans; Deval Patrick Was The Lead Attorney For The U.S. Department Of Justice. “For United States of America: Deval L. Patrick, Assistant Attorney General, James B. Burns, United States Attorney, Elizabeth Johnson, Barry H. Weinberg, Tricia A. Tingle, Peter A. Hernandez, Attorneys, Voting Section, Civil Rights Division, Department of Justice, Washington, DC….For Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, Barack Obama, Esq., Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, Chicago, Illinois, Steve Bachmann, Esq., ACORN, Granger, Indiana.” [ACORN v. Edgar, United States District Court, Northern District, Illinois, No. 95 C 174]

1995: Obama Received The IVI-IPO Legal Eagle Award For IVI-IPO For His Work In Bringing Illinois Into Compliance With The Motor Voter Law. “In 1993, Obama was named by Crain’s Chicago Business as one of “40 under 40” outstanding young leaders in the city of Chicago. He is the recipient of the 1995 Legal Eagle Award from IVI-IPO for his work in bringing Illinois into compliance with the National Voter Registration Act (Motor-Voter). His commentaries have been heard on National Public Radio and his memoir Dreams of My Father was published by Random House in August 1995.” [IL State Senate Majority Caucus Obama Profile (Archived) available here]

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