Politics

Notorious ACORN aiding Sestak campaign

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Matthew Vadum
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      Matthew Vadum

      Matthew Vadum is a senior editor at Capital Research Center, a Washington, D.C. think tank that studies the politics of philanthropy with a special focus on left-wing advocacy groups. An award-winning investigative reporter, Vadum's book, <em>Subversion Inc.: How Obama's ACORN Red Shirts are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers</em>, was published in 2011.

Cemeteries in Pennsylvania may be hotbeds of political activity in the next few days because the zombie group ACORN is deeply involved in congressional races in the state.

The undead group is working to help get Pennsylvania Senate candidate Joe Sestak and other Democratic hopefuls in the Keystone State across the finish line in the Nov. 2 congressional elections. That means that dead people and cartoon characters like Mickey Mouse stand a good chance of participating in the electoral process this year as they always do when election fraud-prone ACORN is involved.

As with all things ACORN, the story is complicated.

Although ACORN, short for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, announced earlier this year that it planned to dissolve its national structure on April Fool’s Day, it continues to operate, even soliciting new funding from donors. Its voter mobilization subsidiary, Project Vote, continues to operate out of ACORN’s Washington, D.C. office where it is currently conducting a nationwide get-out-the-vote (GOTV) drive that could have a budget of $15 million or more. ACORN historian John Atlas and ACORN executive Nathan Henderson-James both say ACORN will reemerge with a new organizational structure after the election.

To stay out of the media spotlight this year, ACORN converted its Pennsylvania chapter into two new nonprofit corporations. The two tax-exempt affiliates are Pennsylvania Neighborhoods for Social Justice (PNSJ) and Action United. Both nonprofits filed their incorporation documents in January. According to those documents, both organizations operate out of ACORN’s offices at 846 North Broad Street in Philadelphia. ACORN veterans are heavily involved in both groups.

The two “new” ACORN groups have been very active in the current election cycle.

For example, on Oct. 20, before a candidates’ debate, Action United loudly protested Republican Senate hopeful Pat Toomey’s support for Social Security reform. The demonstration took place outside Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center before the Toomey-Sestak debate got underway.

Pat Worrell of Action United said Pennsylvanians oppose Toomey’s “reckless” proposal to let taxpayers have greater control over their retirement plans. Worrell was chairwoman of ACORN’s chapter in Chester, Penn.

Inside ACORN sources say PNSJ has been conducting a GOTV drive exclusively in Democratic strongholds, including public housing facilities.

Project Vote confirmed it was working with the rebranded front group as a “partner organization” on its website until a few days ago when Human Events Online reported news of the relationship. Project Vote then attempted to cover up the fact it was working with PNSJ by scrubbing the reference to the group on the partner organizations page on its website. That page no longer mentions PNSJ but a screen grab of the page made by this writer a month ago clearly shows the group’s name. Such cover-ups are standard operating procedure at ACORN, which until earlier this year was the nation’s largest poor people’s organization, boasting a national membership of 400,000.

In addition to operating out of Philadelphia ACORN’s office, PNSJ has Philadelphia ACORN president Carol Hemingway on its board. Hemingway, a former ACORN national board member, was also a member of the board of Action United when the group was created.