The Buckeye Institute, a neoliberal think tank featuring Ohio's notorious vote suppressor, J. Kenneth Blackwell, today filed a state RICO action against the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) on behalf of two Warren County, Ohio voters. Reviving an unsuccessful tactic employed against the organization in 2004, the allegations recycle discredited claims from 2004, and attempt to link unsubstantiated stories to ACORN, raising sensational news stories and patently false and unattributed "congressional testimony."
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) laws were passed to combat organized crime. They allow for civil and criminal prosecution.
"This filing appears to be nothing more than a cut-and-paste recycling of the 2004 filing, which was dismissed for lack of any evidence," responded ACORN in a statement to OEN.
"This is an election season stunt, pure and simple," said Mary Keith, Ohio ACORN board member. "We've seen the Republican playbook used on us before. They cry foul right up through Election Day, then all the accusations melt away."
ACORN spokesperson Catherine Gall told OEN they were unaware of the suit until contacted by the media. "We'll file a counterclaim and demand they provide us with emails, letters or other documents indicating any and all contact with John McCain's campaign or any other Republican Party operatives."
ACORN will also demand they answer those questions under oath, and looks forward to "a discovery process that will specifically examine the nature of the Buckeye Institute's and Commissar Blackwell's relationships to Republican apparatchiks in the context of the Buckeye Institute's 501(c)(3) non-profit status." Nonprofit organizations enjoy tax examption if they remain nonpartisan.
If the Buckeye Institute gets its marching orders from the McCain campaign, in violation of nonpartisan laws for a 501-(c)(3), it may also know and can explain why John McCain formerly supported ACORN's efforts, before he was against them.
ACORN recently sent Politico this photo of John McCain in March of 2006 sitting beside Florida Rep. Kendrick Meek at an event ACORN co-sponsored in Florida:
"The immigration event, which other photos show was packed with red-shirted Acorn members, was co-sponsored by the local Catholic Archdiocese, the SEIU, and other groups. McCain, still spiting much of his party on immigration at the time, was the headliner.
"Bertha Lewis, Acorn's chief organizer, said in a statement that came with the photo, 'It has deeply saddened us to see Senator McCain abandon his historic support for ACORN and our efforts to support the goals of low-income Americans. We are sure that the extremists he is trying to get into a froth will be even more excited to learn that John McCain stood shoulder to shoulder with ACORN, at an ACORN co-sponsored event, to promote immigration reform,' she said."
ACORN, along with Project Vote, recently completed a wildly successful voter registration campaign in twenty-one states, logging 1.3 million new voters. Project Vote reports, "The goal of the nonpartisan voter registration drive-estimated to cost $18 million-was to help close the existing gaps in the American electorate, particularly among low-income Americans, minorities, and youth, all of whom have historically been underrepresented at the polls." That's exactly who Blackwell and the Republicans target in their vote suppression tactics, as these groups tend to vote Democrat.
Blackwell whined about the recent Ohio Supreme Court decision allowing same day registration and absentee voting, complaining that:
"So now the Obama campaign is using buses to take thousands of people to go register and cast same-day votes. Some media reports say that the Obama camp hopes to get tens of thousands of votes this way."
He later calls ACORN "extremist," even though his organization, Buckeye Institute, still pushes for deregulation and privatization, despite that global finance is collapsing under these features of the neoliberal economic plan.
ACORN's Voter Registration Efforts in 2004 tied to GOP Attorney Firings
In 2004, ACORN organized a massive grassroots effort to register voters in New Mexico. The GOP then called for an investigation into voter fraud. US Attorney David Iglesias launched an investigation, but after two years, could not find any prosecutable cases. He was fired.
In a report issued last month covering an internal Dept. of Justice investigation into the wrongful firing of nine US Attorneys, the Office of Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility found: