ACORN Workers Get Confused, Picket Mayor's Parents Home
The St. Louis Post Dispatch has the latest on the national democratic organization ACORN who turned in at least 35,000 questionable voter registration cards and 1,492 fraudulent registrations in Missouri. Before this year’s election, ACORN workers were trained to openly campaign for democrat Claire McCaskill:
Overall, the St. Louis organizational problems are the worst that national ACORN officials have ever dealt with during the organization’s 36-year history. That’s the assessment of Bertha Lewis, head of the New York ACORN group and now charged with rebuilding the St. Louis-based operation. It is left without leadership and little money.
“We walked into chaos, and we’re trying to clean up the mess,” Lewis said Wednesday. “I’m not painting a rosy picture of St. Louis ACORN.”
Officially known as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, ACORN generally focuses on issues affecting low-income people and minorities. In St. Louis, the local chapter long has been involved in various protests or campaigns for better housing, jobs, safer neighborhoods and campaign-finance reform.
At one point, the local group had over 5,000 dues-paying members and nine active affiliate arms, Lewis and Washington said. Now the group is down to one affiliate and about 2,000 paying members.
This year, in St. Louis and Kansas City, Missouri ACORN activists turned in about 90,000 new voter registrations as part of the ultimately successful effort on Nov. 7 to pass Proposition B, which increases Missouri’s minimum wage.
But national and regional ACORN leaders agree with local election officials in both urban areas that potentially thousands of the voter registration cards were fraudulent. Some attempted to register people who were underage, dead, already registered — or didn’t exist.
So far, though, election officials have yet to report any cases where bogus registrations ended up on the voter rolls or resulted in fraudulent votes cast.
Right before the Nov. 7 election, federal authorities in Kansas City indicted four ACORN workers on charges of filing false registrations. National ACORN leaders note that they turned in the workers after an internal investigation.
In St. Louis, Lewis blames most of the faulty cards submitted here to improper oversight by the former ACORN leaders who have been tossed out. The U.S. attorney’s office here continues to investigate.
The money problems include poor accounting of the initial $18,750 that ACORN received under a $75,000 grant from the city’s Affordable Housing Commission. Washington said she couldn’t determine what happened to $8,000 of the money.
Rainford said the protest also was poorly planned. “They had the wrong address,” Rainford said. “They were going to protest outside the home of the mayor’s elderly parents.”
Despite that misstep, Rainford added that the mayor “believes that there’s a role for ACORN, when they do things the right way.”