A Further Perspective

ACORN Visits Obama White House

New evidence also reveals that it lobbies the Justice Department to prevent voter fraud enforcement.

By 12.8.11

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Leaders of the resurrected radical group ACORN are lobbying the Obama administration in what appears to be a concerted effort to game the electoral system to help Democrats, new evidence suggests.

At least five Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now leaders have visited the White House this year alone. One of those ACORN officials has been involved in vetting Department of Justice hires who may help to enforce the voter fraud-enabling National Voting Rights Act (NVRA), also known as the Motor-Voter law. The Department has come under fire for refusing to enforce Section 8, which requires states to remove the names of ineligible felons, the dead, and non-residents from voter rolls, while zealously enforcing Section 7, which requires states to register voters at welfare offices.

As I argue in my book published earlier this year, Subversion Inc.: How Obama's ACORN Red Shirts are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers, those on relief tend to support Democrats, so Section 7 amounts to a taxpayer subsidy for Democratic candidates. Project Vote founder Sanford Newman openly admits his group's work helps the Left almost exclusively. "While our work is nonpartisan, it is realistic to assume that upward of 90 percent of the people we register on unemployment and other social service distribution lines will oppose politicians who have supported cuts in the programs on which they rely," he said. "They are likely to vote Democratic in most instances."

President Obama long ago endorsed the strategy of using welfare recipients to expand the size and scope of government. "All our people must know that politics and voting affects their lives directly," he said in 1992. "If we're registering people in public housing, for an example, we talk about aid cuts and who's responsible."

According to documents obtained by Judicial Watch under the Freedom of Information Act, former ACORN attorney Estelle H. Rogers, who is now director of advocacy at ACORN-affiliated Project Vote, wrote T. Christian Herren, Chief of the Voting Section in the DOJ's Civil Rights Division, recommending three prospective new DOJ employees.

Project Vote is the unit of the ACORN network that President Obama worked for in 1992 when he ran a successful get-out-the-vote drive in Illinois that helped to solidify his reputation as an effective leader and organizer. Obama went on to train ACORN activists and represent ACORN in court as the group's lawyer. Project Vote's official position is that voter fraud is a myth invented by Republicans to disenfranchise Democratic voters. The group vilifies as a racist anyone who thinks voter ID requirements are a good idea and constantly presses to make voting requirements even more lax than they now are.

In a Feb. 23, 2010 email to DOJ's Herren, Rogers wrote, "I want to heartily recommend two candidates to you." (The names of the candidates were redacted.) In a follow-up email dated April 20, 2010, Rogers wrote, "I look forward to continuing to work with you, Chris. And please let me know if you need any more feedback regarding hires." In an Oct. 21, 2010 email, Herren told Rogers his door was always open. "If you have any issues that come up that you want us to be aware of, please feel free to shoot us an email…"

In a Dec. 7, 2010 email that DOJ redacted heavily before releasing, Rogers wrote, "I'd still love to talk for real, but in the meantime, the main reason I called is that you have an applicant for the [REDACTED] position [REDACTED] qualifies her beautifully for your position, and I hope you will give her every consideration. [REDACTED] So she would be a great fit, and I recommend her without reservation. Please let me know if I can tell you more. And give me a call if you possibly can."

The DOJ document dump also revealed that "civil rights groups" met with Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Perrelli on March 17, 2011 to discuss Section 7 of NVRA. The groups involved were Project Vote, American Association of People with Disabilities, Demos, League of Women Voters, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Brennan Center for Justice, Fair Elections Legal Network, NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and Paralyzed Veterans of America.

Rogers has been working with the Obama administration before it took office on Jan. 20, 2009. She filed what Project Vote called a "voting rights agenda" submission with the Obama-Biden presidential transition team in 2008.

It is now becoming clear what that agenda consists of. Project Vote and allied groups have filed a rash of lawsuits recently in several states in an attempt to pressure state officials into backing off investigations into voter fraud allegations, Kevin Mooney reported last week.

"The lawsuits are coming out of nowhere in multiple states and they are coming fast," said Anita MonCrief, a former Project Vote employee who has testified in court against Project Vote and ACORN. "This is part of a coordinated effort," said MonCrief. "These groups are very well-funded, and they have lawyers doing pro bono work."

Rogers appeared to foreshadow the litigation offensive in a July 13, 2010 email to DOJ's Herren and DOJ political appointee Julie Fernandes. Rogers wrote that she would be bringing Project Vote election counsel Niyati Shah to a meeting at DOJ. Shah "will be working on a lot of the litigation we'll be telling you about." Rogers indicated Nicole Kovite Zeitler, director of Project Vote's public agency registration project, would also attend the meeting. Zeitler "manages Project Vote's efforts to advocate for enforcement of Section 7 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 through technical assistance and litigation across the country," according to her bio on Project Vote's website.

According to former DOJ lawyer J. Christian Adams, author of Injustice: Exposing the Racial Agenda of the Obama Justice Department, Fernandes told lawyers in the DOJ's Voting Section that the Department would not enforce Section 8 of Motor-Voter because it "doesn't have anything to do with increasing minority turnout."

It needs to be noted that registering welfare recipients to vote on the public dime is an idea that was heavily promoted by the small-c communists Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven. Not coincidentally, Cloward and Piven were instrumental in designing and lobbying for the Motor-Voter law. Even now Piven is a member of Project Vote's board of directors.

In a 1983 article titled "Toward a Class-Based Realignment of American Politics: A Movement Strategy," that ran in ACORN's magazine, Social Policy, the Marxist duo said "massive numbers of new voters" had to be registered in order to bring "fundamental change" to the nation.

Meanwhile, in addition to collaborating with DOJ officials, Rogers also visited the White House on March 2, 2011, according to the White House visitors database. During that visit she met with Shasti Conrad, a senior aide to Obama uber-adviser Valerie Jarrett, and Jon Carson, director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. Carson was previously chief of staff at the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) serving under Van Jones, the self-described communist who was known as Obama's green jobs czar.

Separately, a group of seven individuals visited the White House on March 22, 2011, meeting with White House policy assistant David Pope. They are Brian Kettenring, Darlene D. Battle, Steven Fletcher, Leigh Dingerson, Charese Jordan Moore, Aaron Brown, and Darren Browning.

At press time the professional and political affiliations of Brown and Browning were unclear.

However, Kettenring was deputy director of national operations for ACORN, working for the group from 1995 to 2009.

Battle was head organizer for ACORN in Philadelphia. She is now executive director of Delawareans for Social and Economic Justice (DSEJ), one of two dozen new ACORN front groups that have sprung up around the nation. ACORN, the shell corporation that ran ACORN's network of 370 affiliated groups, filed bankruptcy in November 2010 after ordering its state chapters to incorporate themselves separately in order to carry on ACORN's work. Two of ACORN's new front groups, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, and New York Communities for Change, have been deeply involved in organizing and financing the radical Occupy Wall Street movement.

White House visitor Fletcher is the former head organizer for ACORN in Minnesota. He is now executive director of Minnesota Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (MNNOC), another new ACORN front group. MNNOC denies any connection to ACORN but the facts suggest otherwise.

According to Judicial Watch research, MNNOC's chairman of the board is Sunday Alabi. Alabi, who has been involved with ACORN since at least 2000, was also a member of the board of directors of ACORN-affiliated Citizens Services Inc., the company the Obama campaign paid $832,598 to 2008 to work against then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Billie Jean Campbell, who was co-chairman of East St. Paul ACORN, and Steve Nelson, who was the Minneapolis northside ACORN chapter leader, are members of MNNOC's board. Peter Molenaar, who was Minnesota ACORN chairman, and Sherman Wilburn, who was Minnesota ACORN board chairman, are MNNOC officers.

White House visitor Dingerson worked as a community organizer with ACORN between 1978 and 1982.

White House visitor Moore, who is director of Communities for Excellent Public Schools, does not appear to be affiliated with ACORN. She was, however, deputy director at Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ), a network of Saul Alinsky-inspired activist groups. When IWJ was created in 1996, Roman Catholic Monsignor John J. "Jack" Egan was on the founding board of directors. The socialist priest, who died in 2001, worked closely with Rules for Radicals author Alinsky, who died in 1972. IWJ founder Kim Bobo was a trainer for the Midwest Academy, a school for training radical community organizers. IWF has close ties to the AFL-CIO. Arlene Holt-Baker, executive vice president of AFL-CIO, is on the IWF board.

It is unclear what the seven visitors discussed with Pope, but it seems a safe bet that the Motor-Voter law came up.

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About the Author

Matthew Vadum is an award-winning investigative journalist at a conservative watchdog group in Washington, D.C. Vadum is also author of Subversion Inc: How Obama's ACORN Red Shirts are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers.