Notorious ACORN aiding Sestak campaign

Matthew Vadum Senior Vice President, Capital Research Center
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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.

Action United, which is also conducting a GOTV drive, only took its present name a few months ago. When it was incorporated at the beginning of the year it registered as Pennsylvania Communities Organizing for Change (PCOC).

Lucille Prater-Holliday of Pittsburgh was listed as an initial director in the incorporation papers of both PNSJ and PCOC, both ostensibly nonpartisan organizations. She ran in the 2008 Democratic primary for the 24th legislative district in the state House.

The group has already secured funding from the far-left Tides Foundation headed by Drummond Pike. Pike is treasurer of the Democracy Alliance, a financial clearinghouse for results-oriented left-wing philanthropy. The group is dominated by radical philanthropist George Soros, Progressive Insurance magnate Peter B. Lewis, and financiers Herb and Marion Sandler. That couple sold their financial institution to Wachovia Bank which later collapsed under the weight of the Sandlers’ doomed subprime mortgage investments. “Saturday Night Live” mocked the ACORN benefactors as “people who should be shot” after the stock market collapsed in September 2008.

Confused? ACORN’s critics say that’s exactly the idea. ACORN maintains odd business practices and byzantine organizational arrangements in order to escape public scrutiny, they say. The fact that ACORN moves money and employees around the ACORN network like pawns in a chess game makes the group very difficult to investigate.

Meanwhile, inside sources say Project Vote is deliberately maintaining a low profile in the current election cycle and plans to return in full force for the 2012 reelection campaign of President Obama, who led a legendary Project Vote voter drive in 1992.

Earlier this year, this writer was told that Project Vote was having a banner year despite ACORN’s troubles and may be raking in more money than in 2008 when it reported receiving $14.6 million in contributions and grants.

The individual running Project Vote’s GOTV operation is under indictment for felony voter registration fraud.

ACORN’s voter drive is being run by Amy Busefink, a senior ACORN executive whose conspiracy trial begins Nov. 29 in Las Vegas. Prosecutors say Busefink allowed an illegal compensation scheme known as “Blackjack” or “21+” to operate. The program gave voter registration canvassers a financial bonus for surpassing the daily quota. Her subordinate, Christopher Edwards, has pleaded guilty in the plot and is scheduled to testify against his former boss.

Busefink also oversaw ACORN’s 2008 voter registration program that garnered more than a million voter applications. The problem is 400,000 of those applications “were rejected by election officials for a variety of reasons, including duplicate registrations, incomplete forms and fraudulent submissions,” the New York Times reported.