ACORN exec cuts vote fraud deal, though ACORN branch claims she never worked for the organization

Matthew Vadum | Senior Vice President, Capital Research Center

ACORN executive Amy Adele Busefink has cut a deal with Nevada prosecutors in hopes of avoiding prison time for her role in a voter fraud-related conspiracy.

Voter fraud, also called electoral fraud, is a blanket term encompassing a host of election-related improprieties. In this case, Busefink entered an “Alford plea” which is roughly equivalent to “no contest.” The case involves a conspiracy to provide illegal financial bonuses to voter registration canvassers exceeding their daily quotas. Nevada law forbids the practice on the theory that such bonuses provide an incentive for canvassers to file bogus registrations.

Busefink’s subordinate, Christopher Howell Edwards, already accepted a plea bargain for his role in the scheme and had been expected to testify against Busefink. Sentencing for Busefink is set for Jan. 10.

Although prosecutors are not recommending incarceration for Busefink, she could nonetheless be sentenced to jail time because the trial judge is not bound by prosecutors’ recommendations.

Soon after news of Busefink’s plea bargain was reported, Michael McDunnah, communications director for Project Vote, ACORN’s notorious voter registration and voter mobilization arm, sent me an e-mail to protest a brief blog post I wrote elsewhere about the plea deal.

According to McDunnah, “Amy Busefink worked for Project Vote, not ACORN.”

The facts suggest otherwise.

The criminal complaint filed against Busefink by the Democratic attorney general of Nevada, Catherine Cortez Masto, in May 2009 stated that as “ACORN Regional Director for Voter Registration” Busefink “did aid, abet, counsel, encourage, hire, command, induce or procure ACORN to commit the crime of Compensation for Registration of Voters by approving ACORN Las Vegas Field Director Christopher Howell Edwards’ blackjack or ‘21’ bonus program…”

Similarly, the New York Times reported at the same time that Busefink had been a “deputy regional director” at ACORN.

ACORN, which stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, constantly plays a game of corporate musical chairs with its affiliated entities. As I’ve written in reports for my employer, Capital Research Center, when it is advantageous to associate with an affiliate, ACORN claims the affiliate as its own. When it is not, it distances itself.

Busefink ran the 2010 national voter drive for Project Vote, which was President Obama’s employer in 1992. She also ran ACORN’s fraud-ridden 2008 voter registration drive. In that drive, officials chucked about 400,000 bogus registrations.

ACORN, which filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Election Day to escape its debts, is also charged with multiple counts of election fraud. The bankruptcy filing appears to be a public relations ruse. The group is reorganizing and will reemerge again soon under a new name, according to ACORN historian and housing activist John Atlas, who wrote “Seeds of Change,” and ACORN executive Nathan Henderson-James.

Despite Busefink’s plea, ACORN’s trial is expected to proceed as scheduled on Nov. 29 in Las Vegas. Prosecutor Conrad Hafen, who is the state’s chief deputy state attorney general, previously said neither bankruptcy nor dissolution would “necessarily protect (ACORN) from prosecution” in Nevada.

Hafen could not be reached immediately for comment.

If ACORN is convicted it would cause an earthquake in leftist organizing circles across America and might embolden more prosecutors to take on ACORN and similar groups. Until it was charged by Nevada last year, ACORN had frequently boasted about how it –as opposed to its employees— had been able to duck prosecution for election fraud-related offenses.

Matthew Vadum is a senior editor at Capital Research Center, a Washington, D.C. think tank that studies the politics of philanthropy.

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