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March 12, 2010
From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:
Obama Justice Department Shut Down Federal ACORN Investigation
If you want to know the sordid details behind ACORN’s corrupt activities and the Obama administration’s disinterest in holding the organization accountable, I have good news for you. Judicial Watch recently obtained a large batch documents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) detailing investigations into ACORN corruption.
This is a huge “get” for Judicial Watch. The documents include internal FBI memoranda, signed affidavits, subpoenas, fraudulent voter registration cards, and publications describing ACORN’s policies and practices. The documents also include details regarding numerous allegations of corruption extending beyond voter registration fraud, to include attempts by ACORN employees to coerce workers to participate in campaign activities on behalf of Democratic candidates.
But here’s what I find most interesting of all.
The documents provide the details surrounding the Obama administration’s terrible decision to shut down a criminal investigation into two voter registration fraud complaints in March 2009 without filing criminal charges.
I’m specifically referring to separate complaints filed in October 2008 by Lucy Corelli and Joseph Borges, Republican Registrars of Voters in Stamford and Bridgeport, Connecticut, respectively, during the 2008 election season.
According to Corelli, on August 1, 2008, her office received 1,200 ACORN voter registration cards from the Secretary of State’s office. Over 300 of these cards were rejected because of “duplicates, underage, illegible and invalid addresses,” which “put a tremendous strain on our office staff and caused endless work hours at taxpayers’ expense.” Corelli claimed the total cost of the extra work caused by ACORN corruption was $20,000.
Likewise, Borges contended that: “The organization ACORN during the summer of 2008 conducted a registration drive which has produced over 100 rejections due to incomplete forms and individuals who are not citizens…” Among the examples cited by Borges was a seven-year old child, who was registered to vote by ACORN through the use of a forged signature and a fake birth certificate claiming she was 27-years old.
The FBI and Department of Justice opened an investigation. However, the Obama Justice Department, while noting that ACORN had engaged in “questionable hiring and training practices,” closed down the investigation in March 2009, claiming ACORN broke no laws.
So there are no laws against knowingly submitting fraudulent voter registration cards? Well, that depends upon whom you ask. Here’s what I mean.
The documents we uncovered also include records related to a separate federal investigation of ACORN corruption in St. Louis, Missouri, involving 1,492 allegedly fraudulent voter registration cards submitted by Project Vote, a liberal nonprofit organization affiliated with ACORN, during the 2006 election season.
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Assistant United States Attorney Hal Goldsmith initiated the investigation with “concurrence” from the Department of Justice and the participation of the FBI. According to a Justice Department memo, Goldsmith “advised he would prosecute any individual responsible for submitting fraudulent voter registration cards.” He even identified the specific statute for prosecution: Title 42, USC 1973 (gg), which provides for criminal penalties for fraudulent voter registrations. In April 2008, eight former ACORN employees from the St. Louis office pled guilty to voter registration fraud.
These appear to be two similar cases with two different outcomes. In one case, the Obama administration let ACORN off the hook. In the other, justice was served.
Other documents show that the Bush Justice Department failed to prosecute ACORN voter registration fraud of non-citizens in Phoenix, Arizona in 2007 because the allegations that led to the opening of the investigation were “unverifiable.” Notably, the FBI document detailing this questionable decision reveals that a “draft Intelligence Bulletin…concludes that ACORN’s employment practices perpetuate fraudulent voter registration.” Oddly, the FBI document that details the shut down of the Connecticut investigation seems to ignore this legal issue.
Look, there is no question these documents reflect systematic voter registration fraud by ACORN. So why has there been no comprehensive criminal investigation and prosecution by the Justice Department into this evident criminal conduct?
Perhaps it has something to do with President Obama’s close connections to ACORN, including his campaign’s hiring of an ACORN affiliate. When put in this context, it seems rather obvious why Attorney General Holder has failed to seriously investigate these and other alleged ACORN criminal activities.
Obama Secrecy Strikes Again
A few weeks ago, I told you about the Obama administration’s arrogant response to a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request seeking documents pertaining to political contributions made by mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The Obama administration has said that documents related to these two government-controlled entities are not FOIA-able. In response, Judicial Watch has filed a lawsuit against the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the agency that holds the Fannie and Freddie documents.
Here’s the Obama administration position as stated in a court filing:
“…Any records created by or held in the custody of the Enterprises [Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac] reflecting their political campaign contributions or policies, stipulations and requirements concerning campaign contributions necessarily are private corporate documents. They are not ‘agency records’ subject to disclosure under FOIA.”
And here’s why the Obama administration’s reasoning is flat-out wrong, as detailed in a new court motion we filed on March 5th:
“At issue in this Freedom of Information Act (‘FOIA’) lawsuit is whether FHFA, the federal agency that has custody and control of the records of Federal National Mortgage Association (‘Fannie Mae’) and Federal Home Loan Mortgage Company (‘Freddie Mac’), must comply with a FOIA request for records relating to those previously independent entities. Until they were seized by FHFA in September 2008, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were private corporations with independent directors, officers, and shareholders. Since that time, FHFA, a federal agency subject to FOIA, has assumed full legal custody and control of the records of these previously independent entities. Hence, these records are subject to FOIA like any other agency records.”
And why are we after records involving political contributions? Because the collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which will cost taxpayers at least $400 billion, happened because of the back-scratching that took place over the course of 20 years between Fannie, Freddie and their congressional co-conspirators.
We believe American taxpayers deserve to know how and why this financial collapse occurred and who in Washington, D.C. is responsible. That is why we’re battling the Obama administration to get possession of documents related to Fannie’s and Freddie’s campaign contributions over the last several election cycles. As we’ve discovered many times over the years, when you want to get to the root of a political scandal, follow the money trail. And that’s exactly what we intend to do.
Of course, we already know that according to a review of the top recipients of Fannie and Freddie campaign contributions received from 1989 through 2008, President Obama is second on the list, sandwiched between Democratic Senators Chris Dodd (first) and Senator John Kerry (third). The president achieved this ranking during his relatively brief three-year stint in the U.S. Senate.
And I think this goes a long way towards explaining why he won’t give up the Fannie and Freddie records without a fight.
Pelosi Caught Up in Massa Scandal
Former New York Rep. Eric Massa resigned Tuesday under an ethics cloud related to his bizarre and reckless conduct. Apparently, Massa groped and otherwise harassed male members of his staff, ultimately resulting in a sexual harassment complaint and his resignation. But now, Massa’s unethical behavior has become Nancy Pelosi’s problem. News reports suggest the House Speaker knew about Massa long before he burst into the headlines, and did nothing to address the situation.
According to Fox News:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s aides knew about concerns over ex-Rep. Eric Massa’s behavior as far back as October, Fox News has learned, raising the possibility that the scandal could dog Democratic leaders even though Massa is now out of office.
Fox News has learned that Pelosi’s aides learned last October that Massa was living with male staffers and asked Massa’s office to change that. According to The Wall Street Journal, Massa’s former chief of staff also told Pelosi’s staff that Massa’s language and conduct made some aides uncomfortable.
Pelosi’s aides learned about allegations of groping around the same time Hoyer and his staff learned in early February, sources say. Hoyer’s office claims it urged Massa’s office to refer complaints to the ethics committee.
Fox News goes on to report that the House Ethics Committee investigating Massa might start “poking around” and asking questions about how Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer handled the matter. The House voted just yesterday (402-1) to advance a measure to expand the Massa inquiry to include what Democratic leaders and their staffs knew and when they knew it.
All of this, of course, is eerily reminiscent of the sex scandal involving former Republican Florida Rep. Mark Foley, who was forced to resign after news broke he sent predatory homosexual email messages to a House Page. Republican leaders, it turns out, knew all about Foley’s behavior and did nothing to stop it. Democrats, meanwhile, turned Foleygate into a campaign issue during the 2006 elections, hammering Republicans repeatedly on the “culture of corruption.” They swept into Congress promising a return to high ethical standards in Congress. And here we are four years later.
It would not surprise me in the least if the allegations involving Speaker Pelosi turn out to be true. Pelosi has repeatedly ignored serious incidents of corruption within her own party.
Take Charles Rangel for example. The New York congressman was recently forced to take a “leave of absence” from his chairmanship of the House Ways and Means Committee after the House Ethics Committee ruled he improperly accepted Caribbean junkets from a private corporation in violation of House gift rules.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Rangel has yet to adequately explain how he could possibly “forget” to pay taxes on $75,000 in rental income he earned from his off-shore rental property. He also faces allegations that he improperly used his influence to maintain ownership of highly coveted rent-controlled apartments in Harlem and misused his congressional office to fundraise for his private Rangel Center by preserving a tax loophole for an oil drilling company in exchange for its funding. On top of all that, Rangel recently amended his financial disclosure reports, which doubled his reported wealth. (He somehow “forgot” about $1 million in assets.)
So Nancy Pelosi has a record of countenancing the corrupt behavior of her Democratic colleagues, including, it seems, Eric Massa. Stay tuned.
Final Push on Obamacare?
Next week could be “make or break” for Obamacare. It looks as if Democrats have decided to move forward with constitutionally suspect legislative legerdemain to push for federal control of our nation’s health care system. In addition to the unprecedented use of budget reconciliation procedures in the Senate, Democrats in the House are suggesting that they can even amend a bill that hasn’t been passed yet! This trickery is a natural follow-on to a process that saw fundamentally corrupt backroom dealing in an effort to get this legislation as far as it did before the Senate election in Massachusetts ground things to a temporary halt.
President Obama, once again reflecting his impatience with our republican form of government, is saying the time for talk is over.
Those who don’t want the government to take over one-sixth of our nation’s economy should not be intimidated.
By the way, our recent SurveyUSA poll found that 62% of Americans thought an increased government role in the health care system would lead to more corruption (only 14% thought it would lead to less corruption).
If Obamacare is to be stopped in this Congress, it is likely to be stopped in the House of Representatives. The key House vote(s) could come as early as next week. It is imperative that you call your congressmen and let them know what you think about Obamacare. The number to call is 202-224-3121. This will get you to the Capitol Hill Switchboard. (You can look up specific House members here). And it won’t hurt to call your Senators, too. Tell your family, friends, and anyone else you can think of to call. If you can’t get through, or your representative simply refuses to answer the phone, keep on calling. I can tell you that your elected representatives are very much aware of the volume of calls, whether or not they’re bothering to answer the phone.
President Obama wants America to “shut up” about his proposed health care takeover. But Americans have a God-given right to petition their government. Now is the time to exercise it.
Until next week…
Judicial Watch is a non-partisan, educational foundation organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code. Judicial Watch is dedicated to fighting government and judicial corruption and promoting a return to ethics and morality in our nation’s public life. To make a tax-deductible contribution in support of our efforts, click here.