Update: A few hours after this item was posted, the AP reported that ACORN’s Las Vegas offices were raided by the FBI. When the Assn. of Community
Update: A few hours after this item was posted, the AP reported that ACORN’s Las Vegas offices were raided by the FBI.
When the Assn. of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, announced yesterday that it had registered more than 1.3 million new voters nationwide so far this year, it was a cause either for celebration or dismay — depending on where you stand.
In theory, of course, voter registration is supposed to be a good thing, and ACORN has long been commended for its ability to effectively appeal to young, poor, working class, elderly and minority voters around the country.
But this set of community organizers is also a favorite target of the Republican Party and, most recently, of Fox News. As the Huffington Post recently reported, Fox has been hammering Obama’s alleged connections with the community-organizing group -– much as if it were charging that he’s consorting with terrorists. (Leave it to Gov. Sarah Palin to make Fox look restrained.)
But ACORN? When did grass-roots organizers trying to increase political participation through voter registration become something political candidates had to distance themselves from?
It all started with the GOP’s accusations that ACORN promotes voter fraud — a charge it’s been making for years but which it’s stepped up this campaign season with a vengeance.
Readers even cited the charges in commenting on my last story, which was about how actual voter fraud -– the kind that affects elections -– doesn’t really exist.
What the voter fraud fear-mongers neglect to mention, however, is that in most cases, the charges against ACORN have not been substantiated. Which means there’s no reason to believe they were ever true.
As we know from the U.S. attorney firing scandal under Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales, chief prosecutors are not above pressuring their underlings to go after voter fraud that doesn’t exist.
But the most important reason why the unsubstantiated charges against ACORN are misleading is that even in the few cases where it turned out that people were wrongly registered, there is no evidence that anyone actually turned up on Election Day to vote on their behalf.
A voter registration may be invalid because someone signing up accidentally provided a wrong address or phone number; or because a worker provided false information.
But in the cases cited as evidence of voter fraud by ACORN -– most notably one cited as the worst case of voter fraud in the state of Washington, where seven people were convicted last year –- the prosecutor himself noted that it was a scheme by a few individuals to make money. No one was actually trying to influence the outcome of the election.
It turned out that workers who were paid to register voters had copied names out of phone books rather than going out and doing their jobs of signing up real voters. Of course, none of those people showed up to vote.
Seeking to prevent any more such scandals, ACORN officials told me the organization now has workers personally call each newly-registered voter to double-check that the registration is genuine. That’s a big workload for a non-profit organization run on a shoestring, but it became a necessary effort to fend off the relentless Republican attacks.
Still, it hasn’t stopped them. An announcer on “Fox and Friends” recently described ACORN as having “a long and storied past involving voter fraud across the country, widespread” and noted “Obama’s long-term relationship with the radical group.”
In fact, Obama was one of several lawyers representing a large group of organizations—all siding with the U.S. Dept. of Justice -– who sued the governor of Illinois for failing to follow the federal motor-voter law.
Not surprisingly, Fox, like the GOP operatives attacking ACORN, neglected to tell its audience the rest of the story.
EPA Administrator Addresses Concerns About Oil Spill Waste Management
At a hearing of the national oil spill commission today, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson addressed concerns about waste disposal from
EPA administrator defends allowing Florida to write its own water pollution rules
The EPA seal (Pic via sentryjournal.com) The Environmental Protection Agency has come under fire for its decision to allow the state of Florida to write its own water pollution rules (known as “numeric nutrient criteria”). EPA Regional Administrator Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming is now firing back, writing that the Agency commends the state Department of Environmental Protection for its draft of a proposed standard. A host of environmental groups filed suit in 2008, seeking to compel the EPA to implement a strict set of water pollution standards in Florida, arguing that the state was in violation of the Clean Water Act.
EPA administrator says federal nutrient criteria is a ‘myth’
In testimony given late last week, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said that false accusations about her agency’s numeric nutrient criteria to govern Florida waterways are proving to be a detriment to their implementation. # Testifying before the House Agriculture Committee, Jackson said her agency’s work was often “mischaracterized” and addressed several myths surrounding its work
E-Verify Mandate Begins Today
The Obama administration today begins implementation of a new mandate to require all federal contractors to check the legal status of their employees to confirm
EPA administrator fires back at critics in op-ed
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson (Pic by USACEpublicaffairs, via Flickr) EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson penned a new op-ed for the Los Angeles Times , criticizing House Republicans desperately seeking to undermine the authority of the agency they have dubbed a “job killer.” Arguing that the environment affects red states and blue states alike, Jackson writes that “it is time for House Republicans to stop politicizing our air and water.” As head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Jackson has faced harsh criticism from House Republicans and GOP presidential candidates who say the agency’s regulations are an undue burden on businesses that have to cut jobs simply to comply with clean water and air rules. Presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann has pledged to end the EPA if she takes office. “Since the beginning of this year, Republicans in the House have averaged roughly a vote every day the chamber has been in session to undermine the Environmental Protection Agency and our nation’s environmental laws,” writes Jackson.
EPA and California Near Deal on Fuel Efficiency Standards
Two weeks ago, the Obama administration raised fuel efficiency standards by an average of two miles per gallon -- a modest change that disappointed some
EPA announces hold on nutrient standards if Florida can come up with own criteria
The EPA announced today that it is now prepared to withdraw a portion of its proposed numeric nutrient criteria (a set of standards governing water pollution in inland waters) and delay the portion related to estuarine waters, to allow the state Department of Environmental Protection to develop its own criteria. # From a statement released by the EPA earlier today: # EPA recognizes that states have the primary role in establishing and implementing water quality standards for their waters. Therefore, EPA is prepared to withdraw the federal inland standards and delay the estuarine standards if FDEP adopts, and EPA approves, their own protective and scientifically sound numeric standards
EPA biologist says fracking may be partly to blame for West Virginia fish kill
New documents obtained by an environmental news service show that an EPA analyst believes that wastewater from fracking may be partly responsible for a fish kill in a West Virginia river. Scientific American reports : U.S
EPA Chief Overruled Calif. Waiver, Too
The Washington Post reported in March that EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson was overruled by the White House in setting an ozone standard. Now, documents