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Judicial Watch, Inc. is a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, which promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.

Judicial Watch, Inc. is a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, which promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.

Because no one
is above the law!


Tom Fitton's Judicial Watch Weekly Update

Obama Earmarks for Family, Donors


October 10, 2008

From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:

Judicial Watch Uncovers Documents Detailing Suspicious Illinois State Senate Earmarks by Barack Obama

You may recall last week I told you about Barack Obama’s controversial Illinois State Senate earmark for the “Garden to Nowhere.” By way of reminder, Obama secured a $100,000 grant for a former campaign volunteer to build a garden project called the Englewood Botanical Garden. The project never happened and Obama’s campaign volunteer, Kenny Smith, distributed $65,000 of the funds directly to his wife and another $20,000 to a construction company set up by his wife that is now no longer in business.

Well, this week we uncovered more evidence of suspicious Illinois State Senate earmarks by Obama, including one $25,000 grant for his wife’s cousin. Here are a few of the details from Judicial Watch’s documents obtained through the Illinois Freedom of Information Act:

  • Blue Gargoyle: Barack Obama helped secure a $25,000 grant for Blue Gargoyle in August 2000, an organization that was headed by Capers C. Funnye, Jr., Michelle Obama’s first cousin once removed.
  • Community of St. Sabina: Obama helped secure a $100,000 grant for the Community of St. Sabina in July 2000, a church headed by Father Michael Pfleger, a controversial and radical Catholic priest and Obama campaign contributor. Pfleger made news in March 2008, for mocking then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton from the pulpit of Trinity United Church of Christ, formerly run by Obama’s personal pastor the Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
  • FORUM: Run by Yesse Yehudah, Barack Obama gave a $75,000 grant to the organization in 2000. Although Yehudah ran against Obama in a 1998 election, five people from FORUM donated $1000 to Obama’s campaign after receiving the grant. FORUM also contributed another $5,000 to help pay Obama’s debt after he failed to be elected to congress in 2000. In 2002, Illinois sued Yehudah for failure to account for hundreds of thousands of dollars he received from Obama’s grant.

These earmarks, especially the one related to his wife’s cousin, Rabbi Funnye, raise serious ethical questions. From documents obtained from only one state agency, we were able to figure out that Obama was responsible for over $3 million in earmarks from 1999-2002. Not exactly pocket change, especially when this taxpayer money is used to take care of your family and campaign contributors.

Some of these earmarks suggest that Barack Obama may have abused his office in the Illinois State Senate. We have yet to hear major media outlets ask Obama why he earmarked money for his wife’s cousin.

It is never too late to demand accountability.

ACORN Accused of Voter Registration Fraud — Again

You’ll recall a couple of weeks ago, I told you that liberals in Congress were determined to stick a huge cash giveaway to the “community organization” Association for Community Organizations for Reform (ACORN) in the government’s Wall Street bailout bill. Thankfully the effort failed. It’s no secret why Democrats, including Barack Obama, would want to support this group. ACORN bills itself as an organization that gives voice to the poor and disenfranchised by helping them to register to vote. However, in reality, ACORN has always been a radical leftist organization that will stop at nothing – not even voter fraud – to achieve its goals.

And this election year is no different. According to The Associated Press:

Nevada authorities seized records Tuesday from a group they accused of submitting fraudulent voter-registration forms – including for the starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys…

State authorities raided the headquarters of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, a group that works to register low-income people.

Miller said the raid was part of a monthslong investigation, and he contended the group had submitted registration forms that used false information or duplicated information on multiple forms. He did not estimate how many.

It is little wonder we’re seeing this kind of blatant criminality in Nevada when you consider that ACORN is relying upon prison inmates on work release to lead its voter registration program. (You read that correctly, prison inmates.) One inmate, designated a “team leader” by ACORN told ABC News that many of his fellow inmate canvassers are “lazy crackheads” just looking to make a quick buck. Now that inspires confidence, doesn’t it?

Of course, ACORN — which is partially funded by the taxpayers — has a long history of voter fraud. As ABC News notes, “the group’s track record has been marred with allegations of voter registration fraud and the criminal prosecutions of employees caught tampering and falsifying registration cards.” And just how low is ACORN willing to go in its fraud campaign? “In Ohio in 2004, a worker for one affiliate was given crack cocaine in exchange for fraudulent registrations that included underage voters, dead voters and pillars of the community named Mary Poppins, Dick Tracy and Jive Turkey,” the The Wall Street Journal reports.

(I guess this makes registering the entire starting lineup for the Dallas Cowboys seem tame by comparison.)

The AP notes Nevada is not the only state where problems have been reported. Authorities have launched investigations into ACORN’s corrupt practices in Wisconsin, North Carolina, New Mexico, Michigan, Ohio and Missouri. (See any “swing states” on that list?) Overall, ACORN claims to have registered 1.3 million people this election cycle and the truth is we have no idea how many of these registrations are legitimate.

Now there is another part of this story that is particularly relevant 30 days out from the presidential election – Barack Obama’s extensive connections to this corrupt organization. Obama served as the group’s lawyer, helped train ACORN staff in Chicago while serving as a “community organizer,” and helped funnel large chunks of cash to ACORN while sitting on the board of the Woods Foundation and the Annenberg Challenge (the education program launched by domestic terrorist William Ayers). Guess which candidate ACORN’s PAC has endorsed? That’s right, Barack Obama.

This story is still unfolding, and you can be sure I’ll have more for you in future editions of the Weekly Update.

Illegal Immigration Crime Skyrockets in Arizona

As you know, Judicial Watch is leading a major nationwide campaign against illegal immigration sanctuary policies that prevent local police officers from cooperating with federal immigration officials. One of our key arguments against these policies (and there are many) is that they put American citizens at risk by allowing illegal alien criminals onto the streets to commit more crimes when they should be deported.

On October 2nd, the Maricopa County, Arizona District Attorney’s office released crime statistics that prove this point. Overall, while illegals represent only nine percent of the population in Maricopa County (which includes Phoenix) they are responsible for approximately 22% of the crimes committed. Here is a breakdown of statistics by crime category. Illegal aliens account for:

  • 33.5% of those sentenced for manufacture, sale or transport of drugs.
  • 35.8% of those sentenced for kidnapping.
  • 20.3% of those sentenced for felony DUI.
  • 16.5% of those sentenced for violent crimes.
  • 18.5% of those sentenced for property crimes.
  • 44% of those sentenced for forgery and fraud.
  • 85.3% of those convicted of criminal impersonation or false ID.
  • 96% of those convicted of human smuggling.

Now as you may recall, Judicial Watch has been very active in Phoenix, working closely with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Phoenix businesses victimized by illegal alien crime to change the city’s policies. And our strategy paid off last December.

Facing the threat of a Judicial Watch lawsuit, Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon reluctantly reversed himself on the city’s sanctuary policy on December 3, 2007, and then commissioned a panel to study the issue. In May, Police Chief Jack Harris announced key reforms to the policy.

We don’t yet know whether Mayor Gordon is truly committed to enforcing immigration laws or whether, in the face of enormous public opposition and Judicial Watch pressure, he was simply making a politically expedient decision. (In the past, Gordon has actually requested that the Department of Justice investigate local police officials for “discriminatory harassment” when they attempt to enforce the law.)

Here’s what we do know: When local police departments implement sanctuary policies, crime goes up. When local police departments enforce immigration law, crime goes down. It’s that simple.

I personally don’t see too much of a difference between McCain’s and Obama’s views on immigration and I expect both will largely continue Bush’s policies, with even less emphasis on enforcement. So the key battles could be at the state and local levels, where Judicial Watch is already active.

Until next week…

Tom Fitton

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.




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