ACORN leader avoids prison for voter fraud conspiracy

Matthew Vadum Senior Vice President, Capital Research Center
Font Size:

A Las Vegas judge has spared senior ACORN executive Amy Adele Busefink jail time for her role in a notorious voter fraud conspiracy.

Judge Donald Mosley sentenced Busefink to two years imprisonment but suspended the jail time provided that she abides by the terms of her probation. She was also fined a total of $4,000 and ordered to perform 100 hours of community service. Prosecutors had argued for a fine of just $1,000. Voter fraud, sometimes called electoral fraud, is a blanket term encompassing a host of election-related improprieties.

This isn’t the first time Busefink was involved in shady electoral dealings. Even while under indictment in Nevada she ran the 2010 national voter drive for Project Vote, which was President Obama’s employer in 1992. Project Vote and ACORN have long been indistinguishable. Project Vote still operates out of ACORN’s offices in Washington, D.C.

Busefink also ran ACORN’s fraud-ridden 2008 voter registration drive. In that drive, officials chucked an astounding 400,000 bogus registrations.

The relatively stiff sentence handed down Monday comes as Nevada prosecutors prepare a similar criminal conspiracy case against the now-dissolving radical organization which filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Election Day to escape its mounting debts.

If ACORN, that is, the shell corporation that until recently controlled a vast empire of taxpayer-subsidized left-wing activism, is convicted it would cause an earthquake in leftist organizing circles across America. More prosecutors might be emboldened to take on ACORN and similar groups. Until it was charged by Nevada in 2009, ACORN had frequently boasted about how it — as opposed to its employees — had been able to duck prosecution for election fraud-related offenses.

Busefink was found guilty after making a plea deal regarding two gross misdemeanor counts of conspiracy to commit the crime of compensation for registration of voters. A gross misdemeanor is a crime that is more serious than a misdemeanor but less serious than a felony.

In this case, Busefink entered an “Alford plea,” which is roughly equivalent to “no contest.” In other words, she did not admit the act, but admitted that the prosecution would likely be able to prove the charge at trial.

The case involved a conspiracy to provide illegal financial bonuses to voter registration canvassers for exceeding their daily quotas. Nevada law forbids the practice on the theory that such bonuses provide an incentive for canvassers to file bogus registrations.

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 a bonus program called “Blackjack” or “21.” Voter registration canvassers were given cash bonuses for exceeding a daily quota of 20 registrations.

Christopher Howell Edwards, who was ACORN’s Las Vegas field director, previously accepted a plea bargain for his role in the illegal scheme.

Edie S. Cartwright, spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, said prosecutor David Rickert is preparing for the trial of ACORN which is currently scheduled for April 25. State officials said previously that bankruptcy would not prevent them from moving forward with the case.

Across the country state chapters of ACORN, which stands for Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, have been incorporating themselves separately in order to carry on ACORN’s work. ACORN 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.

Matthew Vadum is a senior editor at Capital Research Center, a Washington, D.C. think tank that studies the politics of philanthropy. His book on ACORN and its infiltration of the Obama administration will be published in mid-2011.