But let me get the necessaries out of the way first.
The jeremiad was penned by Thomas Fitton, president of Judicial Watch. Judicial Watch, in turn, is heavily, heavily HEH-VILLE-LEE funded by Trib owner and publisher, Richard Mellon Scaife. According to Media Matters, the Scaife controlled Carthage and Sarah Scaife foundations granted $8.74 million dollars between 1997 and 2009.
Far more than any other foundation. In fact, if my math and the numbers are correct, Scaife's given about 20 times more than all the other foundations combined.
And of course there's no mention of this tremendous financial support given to Judicial Watch by Richard Mellon Scaife in the op-ed page that Richard Mellon Scaife owns.
Now onto the jeremiad itself.
ACORN employees have been nailed time and time again for fraudulently registering voters -- including Mickey Mouse and the Dallas Cowboys -- allegedly for the purpose of sweeping Democrats into office.Ah, registration fraud and the James O'Keefe edited tapes.
They were caught on tape advising undercover reporters on how to evade tax, immigration and child prostitution laws.
Let's talk about the registration fraud. Some credit (though not much) to Fitton for inserting the word "registration" rather than going with the usual scary "voter fraud". It must be noted, however, that voter fraud is simply implied by the last phrase of that paragraph - "allegedly for the purpose of sweeping Democrats into office."
The fraud was in the registration - not the voting. Fraudulently registering "Mickey Mouse" in an effort to be seen as doing a good job in no way leads to any more votes for anyone. And that's what happened. According to a CRS report done at the request of the then-chairman of teh House Judiciary Committee, Representative John Conyers:
Effect of alleged false voter registrations by ACORN workers. You asked CRS to research improper voter registrations that resulted in people being placed on the voting rolls and attempting to vote improperly at the polls. As discussed, a NEXIS search of the ALL NEWS file did not identify any reported instances of individuals who were improperly registered by ACORN attempting to vote at the polls.Not that Fitton and the Scaife-funded Judicial watch would bother to tell you that, of course.
And then there's James O'Keefe and his tapes. From New York Post March 2, 2010:
The video that unleashed a firestorm of criticism on the activist group ACORN was a "heavily edited" splice job that only made it appear as though the organization's workers were advising a pimp and prostitute on how to get a mortgage, sources said yesterday.And from the Office of Attorney General of the State of California.
The findings by the Brooklyn DA, following a 5½-month probe into the video, secretly recorded by conservative provocateurs James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles, means that no charges will be filed.
Many of the seemingly crime-encouraging answers were taken out of context so as to appear more sinister, sources said.
Videotapes secretly recorded last summer and severely edited by O'Keefe seemed to show ACORN employees encouraging a "pimp" (O'Keefe) and his "prostitute," actually a Florida college student named Hannah Giles, in conversations involving prostitution by underage girls, human trafficking and cheating on taxes. Those videos created a media sensation.Again, not that Fitton would tell you any of this stuff.
Evidence obtained by Brown tells a somewhat different story, however, as reflected in three videotapes made at ACORN locations in California. One ACORN worker in San Diego called the cops. Another ACORN worker in San Bernardino caught on to the scheme and played along with it, claiming among other things that she had murdered her abusive husband. Her two former husbands are alive and well, the Attorney General's report noted. At the beginning and end of the Internet videos, O'Keefe was dressed as a 1970s Superfly pimp, but in his actual taped sessions with ACORN workers, he was dressed in a shirt and tie, presented himself as a law student, and said he planned to use the prostitution proceeds to run for Congress. He never claimed he was a pimp.
"The evidence illustrates," Brown said, "that things are not always as partisan zealots portray them through highly selective editing of reality. Sometimes a fuller truth is found on the cutting room floor."
The original storm of publicity created by O'Keefe's videotapes was instrumental in ACORN's subsequent denunciation in Congress, a sudden tourniquet on its funding, and the organization's eventual collapse.
Great opening, Tommy.
But let's get to what Tommy Fitton calls "controversial and ridiculous". In October, 2009 President Obama signed the "Defund ACORN Act" and it:
...effectively prohibited the federal government from funding "ACORN and any ACORN-related affiliate."The problem:
Following a lawsuit filed by ACORN challenging the law -- which passed both branches of Congress by wide margins -- the federal courts in New York upheld the constitutionality of the funding ban on Aug. 13, 2010. And the Supreme Court last month refused to hear ACORN's appeal.
On March 1, Obama's Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a $79,819 federal grant to ACORN-spinoff ACHOA to "educate the public and housing providers about their rights and obligations under federal, state, and local fair housing laws."The advisory opinion by the GAO stating that ACORN isn't ACHOA is what's got Fitton in a snit. That's what he called "controversial and ridiculous."
Here's the ruling from the GAO by the way. Feel free to do something I don't think Fitton wants you to do - read it yourself.
Once you did, you'll see what the GAO based its opinion on. You know - the facts. Facts like:
The record does not show AHCOA to be directly or indirectly under the control of ACORN. AHCOA is not related to ACORN by shareholdings. Because AHCOA is organized as a nonstock corporation, ACORN cannot own shares in AHCOA. AHCOA Amended Articles of Incorporation, at 2. AHCOA also does not own any shares of ACORN.And that:
- Neither ACORN nor any other organization has the authority to control the makeup of the AHCOA Board of Directors.
- No member of the AHCOA Board is also a member of the ACORN Board.
- While AHCOA and ACORN previously occupied offices in the same building, the two corporations no longer share the same facility.
- No employee of AHCOA is also an employee of ACORN.
And did I mention that ACORN no longer exists? Thomas Fitton never actually gets around to telling you that, either.
All this over $79,819. This is another non-story the right wing noise machine is hoping to whip into a scandal.
By the way, last year alone, the Sarah Scaife Foundation gave $175,000 to Judicial Watch. Something to chew on.