ACORN Fighting Back in Court The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now or ACORN is fighting back to defend its tarnished reputation by filing a lawsuit against James E. O'Keefe III for videotaping their staff members without their consent, which is illegal, according to the New York Times. ACORN has garnered much media attention lately after hidden camera videos caught staff members offering information on tax evasion, human smuggling and child prostitution to James E. O'Keefe III and his partner, who were wearing disguises. Acorn announced it will sue O'Keefe in Maryland District Court. According to their lawyers, ACORN will be seeking monetary damages and are looking into a lawsuit against Andrew Breitbart, a conservative Web commentator who posted the videos in question. Also, the IRS has announced yesterday that it would no longer include ACORN in a groups approved to offer free tax preparation. ACORN has since fired the employees featured in the videos and hired Scott Harshbarger, a former Massachusetts attorney general, to oversee the review.-WLW ACORN fighting back to salvage damaged reputation By Jake Sherman Politico Updated: 09/23/2009 06:58:55 PM CDT ACORN is launching a wide-ranging lobbying offensive, hoping to salvage the reputation and the funding of a group whose reputation has been largely destroyed in the past few weeks. The community group's Washington lobbying shop has been quietly meeting with sympathetic congressional offices, reminding them that ACORN's services help low-income residents of urban areas. On the legal front, the group is playing hardball, filing a lawsuit Wednesday against the conservative activists who produced the now famous undercover film in which a fake pimp and prostitute ask for tax advice at an ACORN office. But even as they try a Capitol Hill charm offensive and promise internal investigations, ACORN suffered more setbacks on Wednesday. The IRS cut off ties to the group, ending its volunteer tax services. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. a key supporter hurt the organization even more Wednesday when he backpedaled and said he would have voted to cut off the group's funding, after initially saying he would have retained tax money for ACORN. ACORN officials would not say which congressional offices they're lobbying, but an ACORN official characterized the group's efforts as knocking on doors "very lightly" on Capitol Hill, telling Democratic leaders that it would be unwise to stop the flow of all federal funding to the group. "We were just as shocked and horrified as the American public was" over the pimp video, ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis said. And the original battle was: The Voter Fraud Lie: ACORN Fights Back By Isaiah J. Poole The rabid right has turned up the volume on their insidious accusations that ACORN is engaging in voter fraud. But the executive director of ACORN is fighting back with a detailed response that would silence the critics if they had a shred of integrity. They are jumping on news stories that voter registration forms filed by ACORN workers in Indiana included fake names and bogus addresses. ACORN executive director Bertha Lewis said that ACORN's voter registration program includes " the most sophisticated quality-control system in the voter engagement field" and that many of the bogus registrations were uncovered as a result of that process. Nonetheless, House Minority Leader John Boehner on Thursday turned the outrage meter into overdrive with the salacious statement that "election cycle after election cycle, this organization has been at the forefront of breaking the law in order to promote their left-wing agenda." He says that all federal funding for ACORN-related programs "must be stopped." Boehner blames ACORN for making American voters question the fairness and accuracy of the exercise of their most fundamental right under the Constitution." There's no sign that he expressed similar outrage over other disclosures that actions by county election officials in at least seven states could end up unfairly disfranchising tens of thousands of voters. Here's how ACORN is responding: Election Day is less than a month away, and our efforts to make sure that low-income and minority voters have a voice and vote on November 4th are in full swing. Unfortunately, just as we've seen in previous election cycles, the more success we have in empowering these voters, the more attacks we have to fend off from partisan forces making unfounded accusations to disparage our work and help maintain the status quo of an unbalanced electorate. We want to take this opportunity to separate the facts of our successes from the falsehoods of our attackers. On Monday, October 6, as voter registration deadlines passed in most states, ACORN completed the largest, most successful nonpartisan voter registration drive in history. In partnership with the nonpartisan organization Project Vote, we helped register over 1.3 million low-income, minority, and young voters in a total of 21 states. Highlights of this success include: We collected over 151,000 registrations in Florida, 153,000 in Pennsylvania, 215,000 in Michigan, and nearly 250,000 in Ohio. An estimated 60-70 percent of our applicants are people of color. At least HALF of all are registrations are from young people between 18-29. We are proud of this unprecedented success, and grateful to everyone who supported us in this massive effort, from our funders and partners to the literally thousands of hardworking individuals across the country who dedicated themselves to the cause and conducted the difficult work of registering 1.3 million Americans, one voter at a time. And this work is far from over: now begins our effort mobilize these new voters around local and national issues, getting them to the polls and helping to channel their commitment and conviction into an ongoing movement for change in our communities. As The Nation pointed out recently, ACORN's success in registering millions of low-income and minority voters has made it "something of a right-wing bogeyman." Though ACORN believes that the right to vote is not, and should never be, a partisan issue, attacks from groups threatened by our historic success continue to come, motivated by partisan politics and often perpetuated by the media without full investigation of the facts. As a result, there have been a few recent stories about investigations of former ACORN workers for turning in incomplete, erroneous, or fraudulent voter registration applications. Predictably, partisan forces have tried to use these isolated incidents to incite fear of the "bogeyman" of "widespread voter fraud." But we want to take this opportunity to set the record straight and tell you a few facts to show how these incidents really exemplify everything that ACORN is doing right: Fact: ACORN has implemented the most sophisticated quality-control system in the voter engagement field, but in almost every state we are required to turn in ALL completed applications, even the ones we know to be problematic. Fact: ACORN flags incomplete, problem, or suspicious cards when we turn them in, but these warnings are often ignored by election officials. Often these same officials then come back weeks or months later and accuse us of deliberately turning in phony cards. Fact: Our canvassers are paid by the hour, not by the card, so there is NO incentive for them to falsify cards. ACORN has a zero-tolerance policy for deliberately falsifying registrations, and in the relatively rare cases where our internal quality controls have identified this happening we have fired the workers involved and turned them in to election officials and law-enforcement. Fact: No charges have ever been brought against ACORN itself. Convictions against individual former ACORN workers have been accomplished with our full cooperation, using the evidence obtained through our quality control and verification processes. Fact: Voter fraud by individuals is extremely rare, and incredibly difficult. There has never been a single proven case of anyone, anywhere, casting an illegal vote as a result of a phony voter registration. Even if someone wanted to influence the election this way, it would not work. Fact: Most election officials have recognized ACORN's good work and praised our quality control systems. Even in the cities where election officials have complained about ACORN, the applications in question represent less than 1% of the thousands and thousands of registrations ACORN has collected. Fact: Our accusers not only fail to provide any evidence, they fail to suggest a motive: there is virtually no chance anyone would be able to vote fraudulently, so there is no reason to deliberately submit phony registrations. ACORN is committed to ensuring that the greatest possible numbers of people are registered and allowed to vote, so there is also NO incentive to "disrupt the system" with phony cards. Fact: Similar accusations were made, and attacks launched, against ACORN and other voter registration organizations in 2004 and 2006. These attacks were not only groundless, they have since been exposed as part of the U.S. Attorney-gate scandal and revealed to be part of a systematic partisan agenda of voter suppression. These are the facts, and the truth is that a relatively small group of political operatives are trying to orchestrate hysteria about "voter fraud" and manufacture public outrage that they can use to further suppress the votes of millions of low-income and minority Americans. These tactics are nothing new, and history has shown that they will come to nothing. We'll continue to weather the storm, as we've done for years, and we'll continue to share the truth about our work and express pride about our accomplishments. Most importantly, we want to assure you that this good work continues, unabated and undeterred. ACORN will not be intimidated, we will not be provoked, and in this important moment in history we will not allow anyone to distract us from these vital efforts to empower our constituencies and our communities to speak for themselves. If the partisan political machines are afraid of low-income and minority voters, they're going to have to do a lot better than coming after ACORN. After all, there are now at least 1.3 million more of them, and they will not be silenced. They're taking an interest, and taking a stand, and they'll be taking their concerns to the voting booth in November. And ACORN will be here, to make sure that the voices of these Americans are heard, on Election Day and for every day to come.