Biden Wrong About ACORN-Obama Connection
Sunday, October 26, 2008 9:28 PM
By: Lowell Ponte
Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden did not tell the truth Thursday when hit with tough questions about ACORN from a veteran journalist.
“Aren’t you embarrassed by the blatant attempt to register phony voters by ACORN, an organization that Barack Obama has been tied to in the past?” said Orlando, Fla., WFTV anchor Barbara West.
“I am not embarrassed by it,” Biden replied. “We are not tied to them. We have not paid them one single penny to register a single solitary voter . . . We register the voters ourselves, and so there is no relationship.”
A Newsmax Fact Check shows that Obama has had a long relationship with the group, and the Obama campaign did indeed pay an ACORN subsidiary more than $800,000. The radical Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) is a multi-faced creature its founders spun off into about 100 separate legal entities.
In our Oct. 6 investigation, Newsmax reported that ACORN’s founders “created a shell game under which money acquired by one ACORN front group, Project Vote (run in Illinois in 1992 by Barack Obama), would be moved to other ACORN-controlled groups,” some openly political and others tax-exempt and prohibited from direct political activism.
[Editor’s Note: See “Obama and ACORN: You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide.”]
The New York Times, following Newsmax’s lead, reported on Oct. 22 “concerns about (ACORN’s) potentially improper use of charitable dollars for political purposes; money transfers among the affiliates; and potential conflicts created by employees working for multiple affiliates, among other things.”
Was Biden answering the question put to him honestly? As Newsmax reported, “leading up to the 2008 Ohio Democratic Primary, Obama’s campaign between Feb. 25 and March 17 paid Citizens Services Inc. (CSI), a subsidiary of ACORN, $832,598, apparently for get-out-the-vote activities.”
Money given to one arm of the ACORN octopus frequently is shared with other arms, and because ACORN’s loose bookkeeping blurs the distinction between political and non-political uses of this fungible money, Biden was at best misleading when he claimed, “We have not paid them one single penny to register a single solitary voter . . . We register the voters ourselves, and so there is no relationship.”
In fact, the Obama campaign paid an ACORN-run organization more than $800,000. In Federal Election Commission required filings, the Obama campaign reported that this money was paid for polling, advance work and event staging. After watchdog scrutiny called this claim into question, the Obama campaign revised its filing and acknowledged that CSI was paid for “get-out-the-vote” projects.
CSI Executive Vice President Jeff Robinson last August told Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reporter David M. Brown that CSI is a “separate organization entirely” from ACORN. But as Brown reported, CSI has the same office address as ACORN’s national headquarters, ACORN itself described CSI in 2006 as its “campaign services entity.” Coincidentally, the widely identified “national deputy political director for campaigns and elections” for ACORN is Jeff Robinson.
“But in the past,” West responded to Biden in the interview, “Senator Obama was a community organizer for ACORN. He was an attorney for ACORN. And certainly in the Senate he has been a benefactor for ACORN.”
“How has (Obama) been a benefactor for ACORN?” replied Biden. “He was its organizer.”
According to the Obama-Biden official campaign Web site, fightthesmears.com, “Barack Obama never organized with ACORN” and “was never an ACORN community organizer.” But in this interview, Biden unequivocally affirms that Obama “was (ACORN’s) organizer.”
As to Barack Obama’s being ACORN’s benefactor, House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, documented on Oct. 16 that ACORN and its linked entities in recent years have been given $31 million in taxpayer dollars. From 2004 to 2006 just one tentacle, the ACORN Housing Corp., pocketed $7,329,323 in taxpayer money, fully 40 percent of the housing arm’s total budget.
Before that, Obama, as a member alongside former Weather Underground terrorist William Ayers on the board of the Woods Fund for Chicago, funneled many grants to ACORN-run organizations. These not only enriched these radical entities, but also legitimized them in the eyes of other charitable foundations.
Was Biden answering truthfully about Barack Obama’s relationship with this radical organization ACORN?
The Obama campaign paid an ACORN front group more than $800,000 but revised its filing about this to say it was for “get-out-the-vote” projects, not “to register a single, solitary voter.” But ACORN entities that do register voters could easily have shared this large Obama payment, and those names, real or fake, on voter rolls could help elect Obama-Biden this November.
Obama has long had a complex “relationship” with ACORN, but Biden cunningly said, “We are not tied to them . . . There is no relationship,” evasively using only the present tense to answer a reporter’s question that was explicitly about Obama’s past, not present.
An official Obama-Biden website claims Obama “was never an ACORN community organizer,” but Biden now confirms that Obama “was (ACORN’s) organizer.” One of these two voices of the Obama-Biden campaign is lying.
West, an Emmy-winning anchor with 16 years experience at central Florida’s most popular station, WFTV, was the principal assistant to network anchor Peter Jennings at ABC News before that. Her questions to Biden were tough, but no tougher than those aimed daily at John McCain and Sarah Palin.
But during this interview, Biden testily said, “I don’t know who’s writing your questions,” as if they were out of bounds. Following the interview, the Obama-Biden campaign canceled a scheduled WFTV interview with Biden’s wife, Jill.
“Further opportunities for your station to interview with this campaign are unlikely, at best, for the duration of the remaining days until the election,” Laura K. McGinnis, the Central Florida communications director for the Obama-Biden campaign, wrote to WFTV news director Bob Jordan.
Political campaigns in general pick and choose the stations they like, Jordan told Orlando Sentinel media columnist Hal Boedeker, and stations often pose softball questions during satellite interviews.
Several Democratic candidates during the primaries refused to appear or debate on Fox News Channel, preferring instead to go on liberal cable channel MSNBC both to boost its ratings and to avoid tough questions.
“Mr. Biden didn’t like the questions,” said WFTV’s Jordan. “We choose not to ask softball questions