ACORN's Methods Spur Investigations

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WASHINGTON - You may have heard the name ACORN the last few days tied to reports of voter fraud. The group's goal is to register low income voters. But their methods are under investigation in a number of states.

Barack Obama once worked for the group and his presidential campaign is trying to downplay the relationship. But that may be a difficult task.

During the last two presidential elections, accusations flew that low income voters had been disenfranchised.

Some activists vowed they wouldn't let it happen again.

Click the play button for a CBN News interview with Barbara Comstock of the Workforce Fairness Institute.

One of the largest of those groups, ACORN, has traveled from state to state registering poor, minority and young voters-groups who usually vote Democratic.

"ACORN is born out of the radical community organizer Saul Alinsky. And it was founded in 1970," said John Fund, author of Stealing Elections.

"They basically engage in welfare right demonstrations, demonstrations for more public housing. But they also do a lot of voter registration efforts, primarily in Democratic areas. Those registration efforts getting a lot of attention," he added.

During a recent investigation, a Cuyahoga County, Ohio, board member said to ACORN activists, "Your manual says one thing and you've done another."

The Ohio Electoral board criticized ACORN activists recently over allegations the group engaged in voter fraud. Earlier this week, a Cleveland man testified that ACORN contacted him and asked him to register up to 20 times.

"I was trying to help them because this is like, their job, and they needed the signatures. I didn't know it was this big of a controversy," the voter said.

Ohio isn't alone. Investigations are underway in at least a dozen states including Florida, where ACORN workers turned in a registration form filled out by "Mickey Mouse."

The FBI has taken notice -- federal agents raided the ACORN office in Nevada last week. There they found bogus registration forms that even included members of the Dallas Cowboys.

More than 800 bad applications were submitted in Pennsylvania and another two thousand in Connecticut.

In these and several other states, investigators allege that ACORN used false names and addresses, registered people multiple times and even submitted names of the deceased.

ACORN workers say the group has been targeted unfairly in an attempt to suppress votes for Barack Obama.

"They know that most of the new voters -- which has been the target for ACORN, new voters, people who haven't voted in the past -- are going to be the ones most likely to support Mr. Obama," ACORN volunteer Frank Beaty said.

Obama's campaign contributed more than $800,000 during the primaries for ACORN's get-out-the vote work.

The campaign says those payments stopped in May, but Obama's individual support goes back further.

As a state senator in Illinois, he served on the board of a charitable organization that awarded over $100,000 in grants to ACORN.

"Barack Obama was a former lawyer for ACORN, and he was their trainer for several years. So ACORN and Barack Obama are very closely linked. Obama has never criticized ACORN's methods, and I fear that ACORN is going to be injected into this election in a way that will cause the results to be in doubt," Stealing Elections author John Fund said.

ACORN claims it has two different wings -- political and non-political. The group's non-political arm is supposedly devoted to "non-partisan" registration efforts.

It's political wing, however, has formally endorsed Barack Obama. One ACORN board member has publicly praised Obama's past work with the group.

Obama's campaign Web site acknowledges that he did represent ACORN as an attorney, but states that ACORN never hired Obama as a trainer, organizer, or any other type of employee.

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Erick Stakelbeck

Erick Stakelbeck

CBN News Reporter

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