Last Updated: January 18, 2012
The following documents were obtained from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) website and are in the public domain. The cases outlined below are examples of FEC’s apparent inability to thoroughly examine complaints. In each of these three complaints filed against ACORN, a number of charges were brought. In every case, the FEC relied on statements from the accused party(ies) as enough grounds to dismiss the allegations.
In September 2006, a complaint was filed accusing ACORN of engaging in “A Coordinated Campaign With The Express Purpose of Defeating Republican Candidates for Federal Office and Supporting Democrat Candidates For Federal Office.” Specifically, ACORN’s Florida branch was accused of preparing campaign plans that stated objectives including “defeat George W. Bush and other Republicans by increasing Democrat turnout” and “increase voter turnout of working class, mainly Democrat voters without increasing opposition turnout.” Since ACORN and Project Vote are not registered as political action committees (which is required for political organizations that make more than $1000 per year), they are not legally allowed to participate in campaign activities. In addition, ACORN and Project Vote failed to file expenditure reports and Statements of Organization with the FEC.
The case was never fully investigated by the FEC, as ACORN stated that the campaign plan designed to defeat Republicans was a “draft” and that the questionable material had been removed. The FEC did not examine the matter of failing to file expenditure reports or Statements of Organization, and the case was dropped in November 2006.
The Missouri Republican Senate Committee filed a complaint with the FEC in October 2006. Like the case in Florida, ACORN and one of its affiliates, Give Missourians a Raise, Inc., were accused of failing to file their expenditure reports with the FEC. Again, ACORN was also accused of failing to register as a political committee.
Give Missourians a Raise, Inc. was accused because its workers were directed to “solicit votes for Democorat candidate for the U.S. Senate, Claire McCaskill.” This was well documented by a group of workers from Give Missourans a Raise who protested the involvement with elections. One employee, Josephine Perkins, suggested that “this was a willful and knowing violation of the Act by Acorn.” Perkins stated in the video that, “If you go out and you are working for Give Missourians a Raise you cannot have Claire McCaskill’s campaign in the same spot…The funds allocated for the minimum wage is for the minimum wage, not to campaign for Claire McCaskill.”
The FEC dropped the case almost immediately without investigating it after ACORN denied the accusations. Since the youtube video quoted in the complaint was primarily addressing employees not getting paid, the FEC chose to ignore the statements concerning unfair campaign practices. When Give Missourians a Raise was asked about the complaint they “go so far as to assert that the complaint is ‘as thin as homeopathic soup that was made by boiling the shadow of a pigeon that had starved to death.’” Their quote, originally from Abraham Lincoln, apparently was enough for the FEC to dismiss the matter.
In Pennsylvania, Congressman Jim Gerlach submitted a complaint in October 2006. He accused ACORN of “illegally coordinating activities” with Lois Murphy, a candidate for congress. Under 11 CFR 114.4(c)(6), corporations such as ACORN are not allowed to endorse candidates. Gerlach states, “The regulations were clearly intended to prevent these organizations from illegally coordinating with a federal campaign as a way of evading the very strict limits of both the Federal Election Campaign Act and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act.” As proof, Gerlach cited a press release from ACORN: “The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) endorsed Lois Murphy for Congress. Lois will join members of ACORN to canvass in Pottstown following the endorsement today. Lois and ACORN will be reaching out to members of the community to talk about minimum wage, education, and health care.”
The FEC dismissed the accusation, again by using statements submitted by ACORN saying they had done nothing wrong. Apparently, “the Murphy Campaign incorrectly identified ACORN in its press release as the entity that endorsed Candidate Murphy, when it was actually a related state political committee…Pennsylvania ACORN…that made the endorsement.” The FEC does not address the ACORN press release stating they had endorsed Murphy, or specify whether they examined the press release to see whether ACORN or Pennsylvania ACORN issued the release.
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