Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now

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ACORN affiliates
Fraud allegations


Main ACORN page
ACORN, or the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, was a community-based advocacy organization founded in 1970. ACORN conducted large-scale voter registration drives, and in October 2008 the organization said that it had registered over 1.3 million new voters in 21 states in 2007 and 2008.[1]

In September 2009, ACORN came under national scrutiny when a series of videos taken undercover at its offices in Baltimore, Maryland; Brooklyn, New York; Washington, DC and San Bernardino, California were released that showed ACORN employees providing advice to undercover journalists on how to report an alleged underage prostitution business on their tax returns.[2]

ACORN registered as a non-profit corporation with the Secretary of State in Louisiana in 1977. Its Charter Organization ID was 04700320X. According to its corporate filings, ACORN's principle place of business is New Orleans, Louisiana and approximately 294 related entities and related non-profits were also located at this place of business. ACORN was not registered as a tax-exempt organization. ACORN's top three officers were President Maude Hurd of Dorchester, MA, Vice President Maria Polanco of Brooklyn, NY and Secretary Maxine A. Nelson of Pine Bluff, AK. Maxine A. Nelson is also the director of Project Vote. Bertha Lewis is ACORN's chief organizer.

ACORN became part of the story of the 2008 presidential election as news reports and allegations surfaced against ACORN in a number of states. These complaints refer primarily to alleged irregularities with voter registration drives conducted by the organization.[3]


ACORN was founded by Wade Rathke, an activist on issues of labor unions and low income workers, and Gary Delgado, an activist on issues of race and social justice.[4] It had national headquarters in New York, New Orleans and Washington, D.C. The organization described itself as a non-profit, nonpartisan social justice organization. In 2003, ACORN opened operations in 20 new cities, including 5 state capitals. The group claims about 350,000 members across the country.[5] In 2008, ACORN said it had 1200 neighborhood chapters in 110 cities[6] and operations in Canada, Mexico and Peru.[7]


Government grants

According to an October 8, 2008 article in the New York Post, 40% of ACORN's operations were funded through grants it receives from various governmental entities.[8] Grants have been issued to ACORN by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which gave $8.2 million to ACORN in the years between 2003 and 2006, as well as $1.6 million to ACORN affiliates. The Environmental Protection Agency gave a $100,000 grant to ACORN in 2004 for a Louisiana Justice Project, which removed lead from the homes of low income families. The Justice Department also gave a grant to ACORN in 2005 for a juvenile delinquency program.[9]

Organized Labor

ACORN also received money from organized labor. According to Department of Labor statistics, ACORN has received approximately $4 million from the Service Employees International Union as well as its local affilaites. The Illinois Homecare Workers and Home Childcare Providers, a local Chicago SEIU union, which was formed through ACORNs efforts pays rent to ACORN as well as contributing through the SEIU.[10] According to a recent NPR investigation, ACORN also receives funding from the Change to Win labor federation, the Food and Commercial Workers Union and the United Federation of Teachers.

Private Foundations

ACORN received funding from a variety of private charitable organizations that are widely recognized as "liberal," including the Bauman Family Foundation, George Soros' Open Society Institute and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.[11]

ACORN and its affiliates also receive funding from more traditional sources, such as corporate foundations, including the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, Ben & Jerry's Foundation, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation and Citigroup, as well as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation and foundations affiliated with the founder of United Parcel Service (UPS).[12] A full list of ACORN and ACORN affiliate donors is available from the Capital Research Center, a non-profit organization which studies political advocacy groups (PDF format).[13]

Funding draws criticism

Donations to ACORN from traditionally "progressive" groups drew criticism to the social justice organization from other political organizations. The Consumer Rights League (CRL), in particular, focused on ACORN's funding. They asserted that ACORN's budget "is fed by extracting immense resources from labor unions, government grants, private foundations, its members, and 'settlements' with targeted businesses."[14]

A press release from CRL on June 18, 2008 claimed, "The ACORN Housing Association (AHC), an ACORN affiliate that receives over 40% of its funding from government sources, claims to be a consumer advocate. In a newly-released report from CRL, however, a series of documents obtained from a whistleblower source reveals hypocritical and potentially illegal use of taxpayer dollars by ACORN and its related organizations."[15]

ACORN's financial construction has also led to investigation by authorities. According to an October 21, 2008 article in the New York Times, "Acorn faces demands for back taxes by the Internal Revenue Service and various state tax authorities."

Requests to end government funding

On October 22, House Republican leader John Boehner asked President Bush to block all federal funds to ACORN because of the voter fraud allegations surrounding the group. Boehner said, "It is evident that ACORN is incapable of using federal funds in a manner that is consistent with the law," Boehner, R-Ohio, wrote Bush, saying that funds should be blocked until all federal investigations into the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now are completed.[16]


ACORN's web site[17] shows offices in 41 states and the District of Columbia. Only nine states do not have an ACORN office at this time: Alaska, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia.

Political focus

In its political organizing, ACORN focuses intently on a very specific slate of issues, revolving around what it views as protection of the needs and right of low- and moderate-income people. ACORN's priorities have included: better housing and wages for the poor, more community development investment from banks and governments and better public schools. ACORN pursues these goals through demonstration, negotiation, legislation and voter participation.[18][19]

2009 undercover sting


Withdrawn from census

On September 11, in reaction to the scandal, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that it was severing its ties with ACORN. It had intended to partner with ACORN to conduct the 2010 census.[20][21]

Federal housing money withdrawn

On September 15, the U.S. Senate voted 83-7 to strip ACORN of $1.6 million in federal housing money meant to assist low-income people obtain loans and prepare tax forms.[20]

Possible IRS withdrawal

On September 15, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives requested that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sever all its ties with ACORN. ACORN has had a contract with the IRS to give free tax return guidance to low- and middle-income Americans.[22]

Affiliated organizations

Citizen Services

Citizen Services Inc. (CSI), described in a 2006 ACORN publication as "ACORN's campaign services entity" was formed in 2004to "assist persons and organizations who advance the interests of low- and moderate-income people," according to paperwork filed in Louisiana.[23] CSI was hired at the start of the 2008 election season by the Barack Obama Presidential campaign to conduct "polling, advance work, and staging major events," however, it was later discovered that the organization also engaged in "get out the vote efforts." The Obama campaign subsequently had to amend FEC filings that listed CSI's work as only the former.[24]

The RNC has charged that "Barack Obama's failure to accurately report his campaign's financial records is an incredibly suspicious situation that appears to be an attempt to hide his campaign's interaction with a left-wing organization previously convicted of voter fraud." The Obama campaign has responded: "when we saw that our FEC report didn't accurately reflect the field work CSI was hired to perform we corrected it."[25]


See the Services Employees International Union (SEIU) for activities of SEIU related to ACORN. Wade Rathke was the founder and Chief Organizer of ACORN International and SEIU Local 100[26]

Project Vote

Project Vote, a non-profit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization and ACORN affiliate, was founded in 1982. It conducts third-party voter registration drives. According to Project Vote's official website, Project Vote provides "professional training, management, evaluation and technical services on a broad continuum of key issues related to voter engagement and participation in low-income and minority communities."[27] It primarily focuses on encouraging "active participation" in the democratic process from "all sectors of society, and works hard to engage low-income and minority voters in the civic process."

According to its website, Project Vote has three program areas: the Voter Participation Program, which registers and educates low-income and minority voters through face-to-face contact with community organizers; the Election Administration Program, which documents vote problems; and the NVRA Implementation Project which "develops best practices, investigates compliance and offers technical assistance" in relation to the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 .[28]

Complex interactions

ACORN and its affiliated entities make up a network that has drawn criticism for its complexity and internal relationships.

Elizabeth Kingsley, an ACORN attorney, wrote a 2008 report expressing concerns that ACORN and Project Vote may have violated federal laws because of how they interacted. Project Vote, the report says, hires ACORN to perform voter registration drives.. Project Vote is a 501(c)(3) federally tax-exempt organization, which means that it is subject to prohibitions on partisan political activity. ACORN, however, is not subject to those same restrictions, because it is not federally tax exempt.

Michael Slater, executive director of Project Vote, told the New York Times that, "Project Vote and Acorn have a written agreement that specifies that all work is nonpartisan."

Kingsley, however, claims that the way records were kept made it impossible for her to tell whether or not PV's money had, at the end of the day, been used for strictly nonpartisan purposes. Until 2007, Project Vote's board was exclusively composed of ACORN staff.

  • Kingsley said about this, "As a result, we may not be able to prove that 501(c)3 resources are not being directed to specific regions based on impermissible partisan considerations."
  • Kingsley also claims that governance issues plagued the organizations, writing, "Board meetings are not held, or if they are, minutes are not kept, or if minutes are kept, they never make it into the files."

Several Project Vote board members claim that they were unaware that they served on Project Vote's board:

  • George Hampton, listed as a board member on federal tax filings from 1994-2006, said that he had never heard of Project Vote.
  • Cleo Mata, listed as a board member on tax forms from 1997 to 2006, also said she was not aware she was on the Project Vote board.

"Interlocking directorates," a term used to describe people who serve as directors or other positions of influence on multiple corporate boards, are widespread within the complex network of ACORN and its affiliates. According to the affiliate's most recently filed 990 forms, a few examples of the most influential people include:

  • ACORN national president Maude Hurd, who is also secretary-treasurer of ACORN International Inc. and director of Affiliated Media Foundation Movement Inc.
  • ACORN national vice-president Mario Polanco. She is the official contact for the ACORN Dominican Republic Council, as well as a member of the ACORN affiliate Working Families Part (WFP), a political party in New York.
  • ACORN national secretary Maxine Nelson, who is also president and directory of Project Vote and the secretary of Arkansas Broadcasting Foundation Inc.
  • Disgraced co-founder and former chief organizer Wade Rathke, who continues to act as chief organizer of SEIU Local 100 (which he also founded), president of ACORN International Inc. and president and a director of Affiliated Media Foundation Movement Inc.

2008 voter registration project

In 2007-2008, ACORN claims to have registered approximately 1.3 million new voters in voter registration drives that involve what is known as third-party voter registration. The voter registration drives focused on eighteen battleground states.[29]

The group's interest in voter registration drives is believed to have begun in 1998. One internal ACORN manual instructs organizers to sign up as many residents as possible because "this is a mass organization directed at political power where might makes right."[30]

In two states in 2008, (Nevada and New Mexico), ACORN registered new voters equal to more than 10% of the number of voters who voted in those states in 2006.

This chart compares the number of new ACORN registrations in the battleground states to the number of people in those states who voted in 2006, as reported by the U.S. Census Bureau, in the six states with the highest percentage increase.

State New ACORN registrations Number of voters in 2006[31]  % of new voters, compared to 2006 voters
Nevada 87,968 683,000 12.8%
New Mexico 77,432 731,000 10.6%
Ohio 247,335 4,389,000 5.6%
Michigan 215,470 4,077,000 5.3%
Colorado 65,969 1,722,000 3.8%
Pennsylvania 153,898 4,391,000 3.5%

In an Oct 20, 2008 fundraising email, ACORN identifies their target for the weeks leading up to the 2008 election:

Get hundreds of thousands of new voters from low-income and minority communities to the polls in CO, FL, IN, MI, MN, NM, NV, OH, PA, and other states around the country.


An October 24 New York Times report says that the total of voters registered in 2008 by ACORN was about 450,000 new registrations versus the 1.3 million claimed by the organization.[32] 400,000 of the 1.3 million registrations were rejected by election officials. The remainder appear to be change of address registrations.[33]

Allegations of fraud

On October 14, the Wall Street Journal wrote that ACORN, present and former ACORN employees or its third-party voter registration affiliates are under investigation for or facing charges of voter registration fraud in 11 states (Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas and Wisconsin).[34]

In addition to the eleven states identified by the Wall Street Journal, allegations regarding ACORN misconduct have also arisen in Louisiana, Minnesota and Virginia.[35]


  • Officials in Connecticut are investigating ACORN after the name of a 7-year-old girl was found on a registration card as a 27 year old.[36]
  • The Connecticut Elections Enforcement Commission is investigating a complaint that ACORN submitted fraudulent voter registration cards in Bridgeport. The complaint was filed by Joseph Borges, the registrar of voters for Bridgeport. He says he "found problems with numerous voter registration cards submitted by" the group. ACORN filed over 8,000 cards in Bridgeport.[37]


In Orange County, Florida, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement began in investigation in October2008 as to whether an ACORN worker forged an Orange County woman's signature on a voter registration form and then turned it in. A separate voter registration card for Mickey Mouse was turned in. ACORN workers in Florida report having a quota system under which they are paid $8.00/hour and must turn in 20 registration cards per work shift.[38]

In September 2009, 11 ACORN workers were accused by Florida prosecutors of falsifying information on 888 voter registration forms.[20]


ACORN submitted 5,000 voter registration forms in Lake County, Indiana in September and October 2008. Local election officials say that about half of the forms are fraudulent. Eric Weathersby, executive director of the group's Northwest Indiana office, said that workers were asked to bring in 20 registrations a day, but "it was not a quota they had to meet." Ruthann Hoagland of the Lake County election board said the first 2,100 cards they looked at were phony. "Everything on the card filled out looks exactly the same."[39][40]


In June 2008, a spokesman from Project Vote, an ACORN affiliate, acknowledged that 35 percent of the cards turned into Louisiana officials were duplicates. One woman had five cards turned in for her and told election officials that she had completed none of them.

On October 23, it was learned that 50% of the 8,600 voter registrations turned in by the national group Voting Is Power, affiliated with ACORN, were incomplete or incorrectly filled out. U.S. Senator David Vitter, R-Metairie, has asked the state's three U.S. attorneys and its FBI special agent in charge to launch investigations.[41]

Ernie Roberson, the Caddo Parish Registrar of Voters, said the group's registrations make up "better than 5 percent of the registered voter base in Caddo that just magically appeared in our office over a 10-day period." Many cards had names and addresses taken from the phone book, and information on them, such as ethnicity, Social Security numbers, dates of birth or signatures, were false, or in some cases came from people who have been dead for some time.

Of the cards:

  • 65% (5,600) were deemed invalid.
  • In Jefferson Parish, VIP turned in 2,689 cards, of which 1,135 — or 42 percent — were invalid."[41]


The Michigan Secretary of State told the press in September that Acorn had submitted "a sizeable number of duplicate and fraudulent applications."


According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, ACORN staff in two counties, Hennepin and Ramsey, turned in forms past the 10-day window allowed. The Hennepin County Attorney's office said on October 14 that it is investigating whether a voter registration processing lapse at the Minnesota ACORN office falls within guidelines for criminal prosecution. The International Falls Daily Journal asked for an investigation.[42][43][44]


In early October 2008, officials in Jackson County, Missouri, initiated an investigation of Acorn voter registrations. Charlene Davis, Jackson County's election board co-director said, "I don't even know the entire scope of it because registrations are coming in so heavy." The investigation discovered that more than 400 registration cards with false names and addresses were turned in by Acorn workers, and also identified in the one county about 100 duplicates, 280 addresses that don't exist, people who have driver's licenses that don't verify and Social Security numbers that don't verify. Some of the cards are without addresses.[45][46] FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton has been in contact with Missouri election officials about an investigation.[46]

Eight ex-ACORNworkers pled guilty in federal court to fraud charges in April for submitting registrations in 2006 with fake names, fake addresses and forged signatures. Each may be sentenced to up to five years in jail and significant fines.[47]


Ross Miller, Nevada Secretary of State, on ACORN
In August 2009, ACORN's former Las Vegas field director, Christopher Edwards, agreed to testify against ACORN in a case in which Las Vegas election officials say 48% of the voter registration forms the group turned in were "clearly fraudulent."[20] He then testified before a judge that during the summer of 2008, he paid voter registration workers a $5 bonus if they turned in 21 or more voter registration cards in a day. Such bonuses are illegal under Nevada law, according to state prosecutors. A Nevada judge is considering whether Amy Busefink, who supervised Edwards in 2008, should stand trial on 13 felony charges of compensation for registration of voters. When Edwards testified, he told Justice of the Peace William D. Jansen that "No one in ACORN knew this was illegal."[48]

In October 2008, Nevada's Democratic Secretary of State Ross Miller requested a raid on Acorn's offices, following complaints of false names and fictional addresses (including the starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys).[49]

On July 7, 2008 the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that a Clark County, Nevada official "sees rampant fraud in the 2,000 to 3,000 registrations ACORN turns in every week.."[50]

The ACORN office in Nevada office was raided by law enforcement officials who were seeking additional information on accusations that the group had hired 59 felons and had submitted 30 apparently fraudulent registration cards.[51]

On October 6, 2009, a criminal investigator with the Nevada Secretary of State filed a search-warrant affidavit stating that ACORN hired 59 state prison inmates to collect voter-registration forms. These include:

  • Jason Anderson, currently imprisoned for burglary and firearms violations at the state's Casa Grande halfway house in Las Vegas. Anderson was a team leader for ACORN, and he told investigators that some of his co-workers "hired by ACORN were 'lazy crack-heads' who were not interested in working and just wanted the money."
  • Darmela Jone who said she "submitted approximately 40 Voter Registration Applications while employed at ACORN and only 10 were real applications."
  • An ACORN canvasser, according to the complaint, "was caught completing forms using names and addresses copied from the telephone book."
  • A Nevada woman, Roberta Casteel, who had not registered to vote, learned that nevertheless a voter-registration application was submitted to the state by ACORN which included her name, driver's license number and Social Security number.[52]

New Mexico

On October 17, the Republican Party in New Mexico announced it had found 28 fraudulent voters in a Democratic primary earlier in 2008. The GOP said it looked at the data from 92 newly registered voters in the district, finding 28 that had "missing or inaccurate Social Security numbers or birth dates. In some cases, more than one voter was registered using the same Social Security number. In others, people who the Republicans said had no Social Security number on public record were registered." Before the primary, ACORN was one of the organizations registering voters in the area. State Rep. Justine Fox (R-Albuquerque) said, "This is a bombshell. We now have undeniable proof that a significant number of fraudulent voters were cast in Democrat primary races for the New Mexico state legislature as a result of ACORN’s voter registration fraud."[53][53][54] The vote took place in House District 13, where no Republican ran for the seat.

On September 17, the Bernalillo County clerk notified prosecutors that about 1,100 possibly fraudulent voter registration cards have been turned in to her office. The cards in question involve issues such as:

  • The same name as a voter who’s already registered, but carry a different birth date or Social Security number.
  • Listing a social security number for a different person than the person whose card it is supposed to be.
  • Addresses that don’t exist.[55]

In August, the Albuquerque Journal reported that Acorn had turned in a forged card for Rebecca Sitterly, a former state District Court judge from Albuquerque who has been voting in the same place for nearly two decades.

North Carolina

In Durham, North Carolina, the State Board of Elections officials in early October investigated 100 voter registration forms submitted by a local branch of Acorn when "All of a sudden, I started seeing the same names over and over again," according to Mike Ashe, county elections director. He said some forms had similar names but different addresses or dates of birth.[56][57]


  • The Cuyahoga County Board of Elections referred more 14 cases of potential voter registration fraud to the county prosecutor today as part of an investigation of suspicious registration cards submitted by ACORN.[58]
  • Freddie Johnson of Cleveland, Ohio, testified before the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections that Acorn workers asked him to sign 73 voter registration forms. Johnson also told an Ohio newspaper that he was given cash and cigarettes by ACORN activists he described as "aggressive." John additionally testified that the Acorn workers told him they were paid by the signature, and that he was helping them earn additional pay by continuing to sign his name for them.[59][60]
  • On October 14, The Buckeye Institute filed a state RICO action against the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) on behalf of two Warren County, Ohio voters. The action filed in Warren County Court of Common Pleas alleges ACORN has engaged in a pattern of corrupt activity that amounts to organized crime. The lawsuit sought ACORN’s dissolution as a legal entity, the revocation of any licenses in Ohio and an injunction against fraudulent voter registration and other illegal activities.[61]


  • Dauphin County: Luis Torres-Serrano is accused of submitting over hundred fraudulent voter registration forms he collected on behalf of ACORN. Authorities are offering a $2,000 award for information on the whereabouts of Torres-Serrano. He is charged with 19 counts of perjury, making false statements and identity theft. County law enforcement officials were alerted to the possible criminal actions by Dauphin County elections head Steven G. Chiavetta; he became aware of the problem when people contacted his office to ask why they had received a new voter registration form when they had never filled out a card.[62]
  • Delaware County: A man working for ACORN was arrested on October 21 for submitting 18 false voter registration forms.[63] Also see Election Journal.
  • Philadelphia: Official here are seeking an investigation into ACORN’s voter registration program because they "were fed up with false applications gumming up the works" and "specifically accused" ACORN of turning in bad paperwork. ACORN along with other organizations submitted over 250,000 registration forms in Philadelphia in 2008. Many were rejected because they were duplicates, but another 5,000 are questionable because of non-existent addresses. Others are being rejected due to incorrect birthdays, social security numbers, or because those registered are children. Some individuals close to the organization say that ACORN workers are judged by unspoken quotas, leading them to make up registration cards, a charge the organization is denying.[64]
  • Pittsburgh: A Pittsburgh-area district attorney is probing ACORN voter registrations in the wake of complaints about possible forgery and irregularities in registration forms submitted by the group. an organization already under investigation in several states.[64]
  • West Reading: An ACORN worker was sentenced to up to 23 months in prison for identity theft and tampering with records. A second ACORN worker pleaded not guilty to the same charges and is free on $10,000 bail.
  • York: An ACORN worker in York was arrested for submitting 100 fraudulent registrations.[65]
  • Statewide: ACORN turned in 78,376 voter applications from April 28, 2008 through October 6, 2008. As of October 24, 6,962 had been rejected by election officials for reasons other than duplication. An additional 80,000 voter applications were duplicates, including those turned in by Acorn and other groups.[66]
  • Lawsuit: The Republican Party of Pennsylvania announced on October 17 that they were filing a lawsuit against Pedro Cortes and ACORN and its subsidiaries. The press conference to announce the lawsuit included former Supreme Court Justice and PAGOP Fair Elections Task Force Chair Sandra Newman. The basis for the lawsuit was a claim of voter dilution.[67] Craig Williams, who is a candidate in the 7th Congressional district and a former Federal prosecutor, is a co-plaintiff. Williams said, "Voter fraud is a crime against democracy and violates a critical tenet of our system of government: one person, one vote."[67]


ACORN turned in 30,000 registration cards ACORN in Harris County, Texas. Tax assesssor Paul Bettencourt reported that 33% are invalid and noted some specifics:

  • A church was listed as the voter registration address for 150 people.
  • About 250 cards listed the address of a homeless outreach center as their home address.[68]


See also: Wisconsin vote fraud
  • Seven felons were hired by ACORN to register voters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Previous convictions were for robbery and cocaine possession. The seven had been designated as special registration deputies, allowing them to solicit and keep voter registration applications before turning them in to local election officials. One special registration deputy has a pending felony charge for heroin possession and another is facing a misdemeanor prostitution charge. A third was convicted of misdemeanor prostitution. The law says anyone who can vote can be a special registration deputy, and felons can vote as long as they are no longer on probation or parole. But the attorney for the Government Accountability Board, which runs elections, issued an April 3 memo saying the board’s staff believed convicted felons couldn’t serve in the role.[69]
  • A criminal complaint accuses 29-year-old Frank Walton of Oak Creek with submitting 54 false voter registrations in June. Some of the registrations listed vacant buildings as addresses, others had false driver's license numbers and still others had false Social Security numbers. Others charged with vote fraud include Adam Mucklin for illegally registering to vote , and charges against Endalyn Adams, who worked for ACORN, for submitting dozens of fake voter registrations.[70]
  • ACORN employee Adams is charged with submitting 45 forms, about twenty-seven or 60% of which contained information alleged to be false, including 19 voter forms listed persons that do not appear to exist, 19 voter registration forms were determined by police investigators to be nonexistent, 22 of the driver license numbers were fraudulent.[71]
  • Latoya Lewis pled guilty on October 12, 2009 on charges of voter registration fraud. Lewis, who was working for ACORN when she committed the acts in 2008 that led to her guilty plea, said she was trying to "meet her quota as a paid registrar."[72]


A voter-registration worker was indicted in Norfolk, Virginia, on October 16 for election fraud. The woman worked for the Community Voters Project, which is an ACORN affiliate. She was charged with three counts of felony election fraud for giving voter-registration applications containing false information to the Norfolk voter registrar’s office.[73]

Three members of the same group had previously been charged (in July 2008) with voter fraud after the registrar in Norfolk found irregularities with hundreds of applications submitted by eight to ten canvassers. The registrar has referred some of that paperwork to law enforcement. The problems in Hampton and Norfolk are said by a local newspaper to have been the result of a quota system used by the Community Voters Project.[73]

In Hampton, Virginia, election officials said on October 16 that "dubious applications are nothing new, but that this year the numbers are "off the charts." The phony applications are brazen, according to a local newspaper, involving behaviors such as listing fake names, addresses and phone numbers.[74] [74]

2007 allegations

  • Ohio: A man in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, was indicted on two felony counts of illegal voting and false registration, after being registered by ACORN to vote in two separate counties.
  • Washington: Three ACORN employees pleaded guilty, and four more were charged, in what some said was the worst case of voter registration fraud in Washington state history. More than 2,000 fraudulent voter registration cards were submitted by the group during a voter registration drive. To the left is a portion of the complaint filed against ACORN filed by Washington State Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Stephen Hobbs on July 16, 2007:

Allegations prior to 2007

See Pre-2007 timeline of Acorn voter registraton fraud episodes.

Tax fraud and embezzlement

According to public records, ACORN and several of its affiliates owe what amounts to millions of dollars in unpaid taxes. Though several of their tax liens, which are only issued after several attempts have been made to collect the debt, have been released, ACORN itself has at least three liens currently: two owed to the IRS for $547,312 and $132,997, as well as another concerning property they own in California for $33,978. ACORN Community Labor Organizing and SEIU owe $306,407 and $50,000 to the IRS, respectively.[75]

In July of 2008, the New York Times reported that Dale Rathke, ACORN's chief financial officer and brother of co-founder and (at the time) chief organizer Wade Rathke, had embezzled $948,000 from the group as of 2000. Further investigation indicated that ACORN executives, including Wade, had opted to sign a restitution agreement and have Dave pay back the money in annual increments of $30,000 rather than inform the police, government authorities or even the board members of the infraction. ACORN national president Maude Hurd and Wade Rathke have explained their conduct as being based in concern for the organization as a whole, not, according to Rathke himself, to protect his brother. Both Wade and Dale resigned their positions at ACORN soon after the story broke.[76]

External links


Ballotpedia has an article on:
Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now

Additional reading


  1. ACORN and Project Vote Register 1.3 Million Voters in Largest Drive in History
  2. Big Government, "The Science behind the ACORN sting"
  3. National Review Online: Inside Obama's ACORN, May 29, 2008
  4. ARC--Gary Delgado
  5. Wall Street Journal: Obama and ACORN, October 14, 2008
  6. ACORN's web site: Who is ACORN?, Oct 17, 2008
  7. ACORN's web site: Who is ACORN?, Oct 17, 2008
  8. New York Post: The Pro-Barack Vote-Fraud Drive, Michelle Malkin, Oct. 8, 2008
  9. NPR: ACORN's Money Tree Has Many Branches, October 15, 2008
  10. NPR: ACORN's Money Tree Has Many Branches, October 15, 2008
  11. NPR: ACORN's Money Tree Has Many Branches, October 15, 2008
  12. NPR: ACORN's Money Tree Has Many Branches, October 15, 2008
  13. Foundation Watch, 2008: Capital Research Center Cracks the ACORN
  14. Employment Policies Institute, Rotten ACORN: America's Bad Seed, July 2006
  15. June 18, 2008 press release by the Washington, DC-based Consumer Rights League
  16. [AP: House GOP leader asks Bush to cut off ACORN funds, Oct 22, 2008]
  17. ACORN's web site: ACORN Offices by State, Oct. 17, 2008
  18. "New Report Finds Widespread Local Use of Affordable Housing Program Being Currently Debated in Congress," July 23, 2003
  19. ACORN's web site: ACORN's Campaigns, Oct 17, 2008
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 Wall Street Journal, "Acorn Runs Off the Rails," September 15, 2009
  21. NPR, "'ACORN Versus Conservatives' A Battle To The Death?
  22. ABC News, "House Republican Leaders Ask IRS to Sever Ties with ACORN," September 15, 2009
  23. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Obama to amend report on $800,000 in spending, Aug 22, 2008
  24. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Obama to amend report on $800,000 in spending, Aug 22, 2008
  25. Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Obama to amend report on $800,000 in spending, Aug 22, 2008
  26. Wade Rathke biography
  27. Project Vote: About Page
  28. Project Vote: Our Programs
  29. ACORN's web site
  30. Employment Policies Institute, Rotten ACORN: America's Bad Seed, July 2006
  31. Number of residents by state who voted in 2006, prepared by the U.S. Census Bureau
  32. NEW YORK TIMES:Group's Tally of New Voters Was Vastly Overstated
  33. NEW YORK TIMES: "Group's Tally of New Voters Was Vastly Overstated," October 24, 2008
  34. Wall Street Journal, "Obama and Acorn," October 14, 2008
  35. Pajamas Media, "The complete guide to Acorn voter fraud"
  36. Hartford Courant: Conn. looking into voter cards submitted by ACORN, Oct 10, 2008
  37. Hartford Courant, Conn. looking into voter cards submitted by ACORN, October 9, 2008
  38. WFTV, "Acorn member investigated for turning in false voter registration form," October 14, 2008
  39. Chicago Sun Times, "Palin hammers on Acorn," October 18, 2008 (dead link)
  40. CNN, "Thousands of voter registration forms faked, officials say," October 10, 2008
  41. 41.0 41.1 The News-Star: "Senator seeks voter fraud probe," Oct 23, 2008
  42. International Falls Daily Journal, "Too Good to be True," October 17, 2008
  43. Minneapolis Star Tribune, "ACORN's practices deserve scrutiny: Any and all whiffs of voting irregularities should be checked out," October 17, 2008
  44. Minneapolis Star Tribune, "Hennepin County investigating ACORN registrations," October 14, 2008
  45. ACORN Playing Huge Role in Missouri Race, October 19, 2008
  46. 46.0 46.1 Associated Press, Missouri officials suspect fake voter registration, Oct. 9, 2008
  47. Columbia Tribune, Ex-ACORN workers plead guilty to fraud, April 6, 2008
  48. Los Angeles Times, "Former ACORN worker details blackjack voter registration bonuses," September 30, 2009
  49. Wall Street Journal Online, Obama and ACORN, Oct. 14, 2008
  50. Consumer Rights League: $1 Million Scandal Latest To Hit ACORN
  51. Washington Post, "ACORN Nevada Office Raided"
  52. Court documents reveal Acorn's troubled history
  53. 53.0 53.1 National Review Online: "28 Out of 92 Cast Votes in NM Democratic Primary Appear Fake," Oct 17, 2008
  54. The Phoenix, "So Close! -- But Still No Fraud," Oct 17, 2008
  55. Acorn Watch"
  56. News and Observer, "Fraud suspected in voter sign-up," October 10, 2008
  57. News and Observer, "Last minute registrations swell voter rolls," October 10, 2008
  58. ELection Journal: More ACORN fraud found in Cleveland, OH, Oct 21, 2008
  59. New York Post:, "1 Voter, 72 Registrations," October 10, 2008 (dead link)
  60. MSNBC: Court documents reveal troubled history
  61. Statement by the Buckeye Institute, The Buckeye Institute October 14, 2008
  62. "Former temp worker accused of bogus voter registrations," July 24, 2008
  63. NBC10: Delaware Co. Man Charged With Voter Registration Fraud, Oct 21, 2008
  64. 64.0 64.1 Times Leader: "Pittsburgh-are DA probing ACORN voter sign-ups," October 15, 2008
  65. Milanlaw: "ACORN Voter Fraud," October 10, 2008 (dead link)
  66. Philadelphia Bulletin, "U.S. Attorney investigating Acorn," October 24, 2008 (dead link)
  67. 67.0 67.1 Republican Party of Pennsylvania: "PAGOP Announces Lawsuit Against Secretary Of The Commonwealth And ACORN," October 17, 2008 (dead link)
  68. ABC, "Questions over local voter registrations"
  69. Greenbay Gazette, Felons hired to register Milwaukee voters, October 1, 2008
  70. WKOW News, 3rd Wisconsin person charged with election fraud, Oct. 14, 2008
  71. WKOW News, Elections fraud task force files first charges
  72. WKOW-TV, "Milwaukee woman gets probation for ACORN voter registration," October 12, 2009
  73. 73.0 73.1 The Virginian Pilot, Norfolk voter-group employee indicted on election fraud, October 15 2008
  74. 74.0 74.1, Election fraud investigations underway across Hampton Roads, October 16 2008
  75. "Who Funds the Weather Underground's Little Brother?," November 2008
  76. The New York Times, "Funds Misappropriated at 2 Nonprofit Groups," July 9, 2008