During the 2008 presidential election, Barack Obama, in response to allegations by John McCain that he had “long and deep” ties to ACORN, said the following to ABC News reporter:
My relationship with ACORN is pretty straight forward. It’s probably 13 years ago when I was practicing law, I represented ACORN. . .in having Illinois implement what was called the Motor Voter law. . . .That was my relationship, and is my relationship, to ACORN.
Later, in his third debate with McCain, Obama was even more categorical. He stated: “The only involvement I’ve ever had with ACORN was I represented them alongside the U.S. Justice Department in making Illinois implement a Motor Voter law that helped people get registered at DMVs.”
As Stanley Kurtz demonstrates in his terrific new book Radical-in-Chief, Obama’s statement to ABC and his statement to the nation during the debate are both false. In reality, Obama was involved with ACORN when he ran something called Project Vote in 1992. In fact, Obama himself has linked his work on Project Vote to ACORN. When he sought the endorsement of ACORN for his presidential bid, he said, “when I ran Project Vote, the voter registration drive in Illinois, ACORN was smack dab in the middle of it.” So much for Obama not having a relationship with ACORN until the subsequent Motor Voter litigation.
ACORN was “smack dab in the middle” of Project Vote because Obama placed it there. He and the other hard-core leftists in charge of Project Vote selected for its steering committee Madeleine Talbott of ACORN and Keith Kelleher of SEIU Local 880, ACORN’s handmaiden. (Other steering committee members included Reverend Jeremiah Wright and Father Michael Pfleger).
ACORN’s presence on the steering committee was no mere honorary status. As Kelleher later wrote:
Local 880 and Illinois ACORN joined forces with a newly-invigorated voter registration group, Project Vote, run by former community organizer (and current Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Senator) Barack Obama to bring other community groups under the Project Vote umbrella and move a large-scale voter registration program for U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun.
Thus, ACORN was at the center of Project Vote when Obama ran it. Again, Obama’s claim to have been involved with ACORN only in subsequent litigation over the Motor Voter law is a fabrication.
The quote above from Kelleher makes another revealing point. Project Vote purported to be a non-partisan organization dedicated to encouraging voter participation by everyone, regardless of party affiliation. Indeed, as Kurtz notes, non-partisanship is a legal requirement for tax-exempt voter registration work. But Kelleher acknowledges that Project Vote was really a voter registration program for Democratic Senatorial candidate Carol Moseley Braun.
Two years later, Obama did (as he says) represent ACORN in its suit against Illinois over Motor Voter issues. But this was the fruit of his relationship ACORN, not the first and only example of it. Obama had done ACORN a significant favor by making it a major player in Project Vote, and thus in the election of Moseley Braun, who proceeded to help ACORN with its core project of forcing banks to make loans to high risk applicants. It was only natural that ACORN subsequently would select him as its counsel.
As a result of Obama’s misrepresentation of his links with ACORN, the American people were denied relevant information about his past radical political associations. The electorate thought it was electing a mainstream liberal with bipartisan tendencies. It now suspects that it elected a left-wing ideologue. Kurtz’s book shows that these suspicions are correct, if perhaps understated.