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Bachmann planning separate ACORN legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., may have won the battle related to ACORN last week, but Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann isn’t letting that stop her.

On a blustery morning outside the Capitol, Bachmann announced to a handful of reporters today that she was preparing to introduce separate legislation that would withhold federal housing funds from organizations that have been indicted on voter fraud and related issues.

“This is about how Congress spends the people’s money in our country,” Bachmann said. “It is about the bar that Congress sets for accessing federal funding. The question before us is: Is it a right that anyone is entitled to, or is it a privilege that must be earned?”

Last week, Finance Committee Chairman Frank successfully removed wording that Bachmann had added to a home mortgage bill that sought to withhold federal funding from organizations or individuals that have been indicted for voter fraud.

The language did not specifically mention ACORN, but Bachmann made it clear that the intent was to restrict funds specifically from ACORN and other organizations that have faced indictment.

The main issue that Frank objected to, at the time, was the use of an indictment as the standard as opposed to a conviction.

“There ought to be a bright line between penalties for indictment and fraud convictions,” Frank said.

Indeed, Frank’s substitute language established conviction as the bar.

Meanwhile, Nevada authorities filed criminal charges last week against ACORN and two former employees for allegedly paying canvassers illegally to sign up new voters.

Seven ACORN volunteers in Pennsylvania were recently charged with voter registration fraud, including forgery and falsification of voter records.

“This is not a single isolated incident with ACORN … there has been a pattern of behavior,” Bachmann said.

During their debate last week, Frank seemed to indicate that he might be more open to language that specified a pattern, or history, of indictments as opposed to an isolated instance.

Bachmann said today that her team was looking into couching the new legislation in those terms, but hadn’t made a decision yet.

“I think there is a difference between an organization that may have just an isolated instance as opposed to repeated behavior,” Bachmann said. “That is something that we are looking at. We are talking about the legislation. We don’t want it to be so tight and so restrictive that it has an unintended consequence of leaving out organizations that deserve the money.”

Bachmann estimated that the legislation would be ready in about two weeks.

Sherman Wilburn, Minnesota ACORN Board Chair, later responded this afternoon to Bachmann’s comments. “ACORN is working hard every day in Minnesota to stop predatory lending, and is even helping Rep. Bachmann’s own constituents to save their homes,” Wilburn said.

Kevin Whelan, ACORN deputy political director, later specified that ACORN had never been convicted of voter fraud, and in the Pennsylvania case had turned over the information about a handful of employees. The organization has denied any wrongdoing in the Nevada case.

Also, Whelan clarified that while former employees may be currently under investigation in at least 12 states, the organization itself is not.

Cynthia Dizikes covers Minnesota’s congressional delegation and reports on issues and developments in Washington, D.C. She can be reached at cdizikes[at]minnpost[dot]com.

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Comments (17)

  1. Submitted by Jeremy Powers on 05/14/2009 - 12:35 pm.

    ACORN is just Bachmann’s windmill to tilt at. ACORN should not have set up its reward system the way they did – it’s ripe for abuse. But has anyone found even one instance where a fraudulent voter actually voted? And the goal of ACORN is certainly a good one – registering eligible voters. Well, not if you’re a Republican. I think the Texas Republican platform (only one I could find) is pretty clear that they only want affluent, white, English-speaking voters. They want voter registration to lapse in less than four years, meaning that people who only vote for president would have to re-register at least 30 days before every presidential election. They want proof of citizenship presented when you go to vote – not just register. So that means everyone would have to bring a passport or birth certificate to vote.

    After all, the ultimate unofficial Republican Party platform is: “Rights are for those people who agree with us.”

    Bachmann is just as mad as Don Quixote and the citizens of the Sixth Congressional District are her collective Sancho Panza.

  2. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/14/2009 - 12:39 pm.


    In order to stifle the funding network already in place, I’ve written Rep. Bachmann encouraging her to include language that would preclude Fed money being used in third party transfers to crooked groups like ACORN, too.

    Yeah, we realize that this needed piece of legislation is headed for defeat; the Democrats can’t afford not to reward their most successful operatives. But Michele has once again put Barney & Co. in the position of having to defend blatant corruption.

    Isn’t she *great*? 🙂

  3. Submitted by david granneman on 05/14/2009 - 12:49 pm.

    hello all
    three cheers for michele bachmann
    its about time someone had the guts to prevent the acorn frauds and thugs from getting tax payer dollars. these criminals do not deserve to get my money to commit vote fraud.

  4. Submitted by Brian Simon on 05/14/2009 - 12:59 pm.

    “[Congresswoman] Bachmann announced to a handful of reporters today that she was preparing to introduce separate legislation that would withhold federal housing funds from organizations that have been indicted on voter fraud and related issues.”

    Has anyone asked about the scope of the problem? How many individuals and/or organizations that have been indicted for voter fraud are eligible for federal housing funds? Specifically, I’d like to see someone ask Rep Bachmann how much money her proposed legislation will save. Another interesting question would be whether or not she supports the legal premise that the accused are innocent until proven guilty.

  5. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 05/14/2009 - 01:10 pm.

    How long will these lies about Acorn persist?

    Acorn hired something like 13,000 people to do voter registration. They were paid for each registration accomplished and appreciably increased the number of Americans who were registered to vote.

    An infinitesimal percentage of the 13,000 decided to increase their incomes by defrauding Acorn, NOT the elections system. They made up funny names that would have fooled no election judge, filled out phony forms and turned them in for payment. Acorn was able to tell that the registration forms were fraudulent AND TURNED THE MISCREANTS IN TO THE LAW.

    Acorn has not been indicted or tried for any crimes because it has not committed any. If Texas is trying to prove some kind of wrong-doing, it will fail. Give it up, Ms. Bachmann.

  6. Submitted by Tim Walker on 05/14/2009 - 02:40 pm.

    What Bernice said.

    T Swift, please show evidence of ACORN’s fraud.

    So, a few ACORN canvassers turned in voter cards listing Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and the squad of the Dallas Cowboys.

    These were obviously and quickly determined as fraudulent (by ACORN staff back at the office, by the way) and never even came close to actually leading to the name “Mickey Mouse” showing up on a voter registration list at a polling place.

    So, how many of these pathetic attempts by a few underpaid field workers actually moved from being attemped voter REGISTRATION fraud into the realm of actual VOTOR FRAUD?

    The answer: None, nada, zip.

    The lame-ass investigations in a handful of states will quickly reveal this.

    Your protestations of ACORN=EVIL are completely wacko, just like Rep. Bachmann.

  7. Submitted by david granneman on 05/14/2009 - 02:55 pm.

    hello all
    nine states have filed charges against acorn

    State attorney general files charges against ACORN, 2 employees


    Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto discusses voter registration charges against the Association of Community Organization for Reform Now Inc. (ACORN,) while Secretary of State Ross Miller, left, and Clark County Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax look on during a news conference at Sawyer Building today.

    7 Pa. ACORN workers facing voter-form charges

    May 7 11:46 AM US/Eastern
    Associated Press Writer

    PITTSBURGH (AP) – Authorities in western Pennsylvania have accused seven people who worked for the community group ACORN of falsifying voter-registration forms.
    The seven have been charged with either forging, illegally soliciting or illegally filling out voter-registration cards in the lead-up to the 2008 election.


  8. Submitted by david granneman on 05/14/2009 - 03:07 pm.

    the people who say acorn never commited voter fraud. that is like saying al capone never committed any murders. acorn learned a lesson from al capone. you don’t need to kill anybody if you can hire someone to do it for you. acorn
    “subcontracts” people to commit voter fraud for them and when they are arrested claim they have no control over the subcontractors.
    i guess to a liberal if you try with all your efforts to commit a crime and if because you are stopped by local officals from completing your crime – THAT MEANS YOU ARE INNOCENT OF THE CRIME
    i have a question for you

    a person commits voter registration fraud because:

    a. they had noting better to do that day

    b. they thought it might be fun
    c. they intended to commit voter election

  9. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/14/2009 - 05:00 pm.

    You have to love it.

    ACORN’s apologists have retreated from proclaiming that ACORN is nothing more than a fuzzy, huggable group working on behalf of the homeless to assuring us “Well, um, it’s not *really bad* fraud, so there.”

    Watching San Fran Nan squirm and lie on her way out of the Speakers gig, *and* ACORN on the run, all in one week…Christmas in May!

  10. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/14/2009 - 05:07 pm.

    For Bernice:

    “Acorn Charged in Voter Registration Fraud Case in Nevada”

    ACORN has, indeed, been indicted.

    I have to say that reading all of these casual dismissals while we are knee deep into unraveling a very shady election here in Minnesota kind of give me the willies.

    One could say it’s having a “chilling effect” on those of us that prefer our Democracy sunny side up rather than scrambled.

  11. Submitted by M Grier on 05/14/2009 - 07:57 pm.

    In America, an indictment is not a conviction.

    Please come back when you have an argument that doesn’t conflict with the American constitution.

  12. Submitted by Brian Simon on 05/14/2009 - 09:54 pm.

    Thinking about this a bit further, what’s the connection between alleged voter fraud and federal housing funds? Perhaps the legislation would be more popular if it restricted all federal funds from anyone (or organization) indicted for any federal crime. Of course, that would more obviously bump into that pesky tradition of presuming innocence. Which still applies to this legislation, come to think of it.

  13. Submitted by Ann Richards on 05/15/2009 - 06:36 am.

    Many years ago when I was more mainstream, I registered Minnesotans for the Republican party and we got our share of Donald Ducks and Mickey Mouses, which we were required to turn in. Did I and the Republican party contribute to voter fraud? No, they would not have been able to vote. This business with Acorn is much ado about nothing. I think the real issue is that Acorn successfully got rid of ‘redlining’ and that must really stick in the craw of ‘the good old boys’ party.

  14. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/15/2009 - 08:54 am.

    “In America, an indictment is not a conviction.”

    We are talking about handing out money, not a criminal trial. Please come back when you have read the American Constitution.

  15. Submitted by david granneman on 05/15/2009 - 10:52 am.

    more good news regarding acorn

    Another ACORN scandal – in a funeral home?
    Group operating out of small building donated $33 million to Obama campaign

    Posted: May 14, 2009
    11:30 pm Eastern
    By Chelsea Schilling
    © 2009 WorldNetDaily

    Fox News’ Glenn Beck may have uncovered another twist to a series of ACORN’s alleged scandals when he revealed on his show that the group’s main affiliate is operating out of a former New Orleans funeral home and bringing in millions of taxpayer dollars.
    The Service Employees International Union’s New Orleans headquarters location that also houses ACORN is supposed to be home to more than 270 related corporations and non-profits.

  16. Anonymous Submitted by Anonymous on 05/16/2009 - 09:06 am.

    Worldnetdaily and Glen beck? Really?

    I want to know why Michele Bachmann isn’t going after the fraud and millions of lost taxpayers money that was given to Haliburton and Blackwater during the Bush Administration? ACORN is just the latest “shiney object” to distract from the real issues of fraud that need to be addressed.

  17. Submitted by John Roach on 05/16/2009 - 11:58 am.

    Bachmann’s supporters often develop their positions based on inaccurate and distorted information that they get from various highly slanted media sources. Does anyone remember her legislation to protect our choice of light bulbs from a nonexistent threat? It failed because it was based solely on the distortions and rantings of the right-wing media and as a result it was factually wrong.

    This is no different. She has identified a bogeyman created by the usual right-wing demagogues, so she knows her supporters are already familiar and comfortable with the disinformation regarding ACORN. She merely has to repeat the talking points of these propagandists to generate a surge of donations to her campaign.

    This is her pattern. Her proposed legislation will die; not because the Democrats are secretly in league with ACORN, but because her bill is based on the inaccurate bloviating of talk show pundits and bloggers. She will do this two or three more times before 2010, and generate quite a bit of money for her campaign fund while accomplishing very little else.

    Whoever runs against her in 2010 would be well served to track the synchronization of her proposed legislation with talking points of the right-wing media universe. She is not the horse, folks. She is the cart.

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