The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, has done a lot of heavy lifting over the past few decades for the Democratic Party Left. Launched in 1970 and still run by Service Employees International Union Local 100 chief organizer Wade Rathke, the massive nationwide nonprofit network of anti-poverty activists has been focusing much of its firepower lately on voter registration. They play hardball and are proud of it, regardless of whether their tactics are legal. Results are what matters. And last year in Missouri, the group delivered results. By a less than 50,000-vote margin, State Auditor Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, was elected as the state’s newest U.S. Senator over GOP incumbent Jim Talent. In the process, ACORN unwittingly set the stage, especially in Kansas City, for indictments and guilty pleas against several of their former workers.
On May 17, Carmen R. Davis became the latest casualty of an ongoing case of election theft on a grand scale. Davis, 38, a former ACORN worker, pleaded guilty in Kansas City federal court to filing false election paperwork. She had been among several defendants earlier charged with voter registration fraud and/or identity theft. Rathke and other ACORN leaders insist that the indictments were part of an organized effort to suppress minority turnout at the polls. But as Union Corruption Update indicated at length back in January, the evidence is damning: ACORN activists in the Kansas City and St. Louis areas padded the voter rolls with 35,000 or more fraudulent or questionable registration cards.
Interim U.S. Attorney Bradley Schlozman brought charges in Kansas City against four people less than a week before Election Day. Prosecutors later dropped the charges against one of the defendants, Stephanie Davis. Her identity had been stolen by Carmen Davis; information as to whether the two are related was not available in the four-count indictment dated January 5, 2007. Carmen Davis, who also goes by the name Latisha Reed, was accused of using Stephanie Davis’s Social Security number while employed as a voter registration recruiter for ACORN in August and September of 2006. Ms. Davis/Reed allegedly caused three false registration applications – all in the name of the same person, but with different addresses – to be filed with the Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners.
Three other persons accused of offenses during their tenure as ACORN voter activists also are paying the price. Dale Franklin, who pleaded guilty in February to filing false registration forms, received probation only days before Davis entered her guilty plea. Brian Gardner pleaded guilty in March and is awaiting sentencing. And Kwaim A. Stenson is scheduled to go on trial in July. These are victories for public integrity, but minor ones in the overall scheme of things. No four low-level operatives, no matter how clever, could have created tens of thousands of phony or suspect registration cards on their own. Moreover, the states of Colorado, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Wisconsin each recently have investigated, and on due occasion, convicted ACORN members for vote fraud. The leadership of ACORN doesn’t seem fazed. Why should they? The Democratic Party and organized labor are the organization’s prime beneficiaries. (KansasCity.com, 5/17/07; U.S. Department of Justice, 1/5/07; other sources).