“Barack Obama never organized with ACORN,” reads one of the banners on Barack Obama’s Web site, “Fight the Smears,” http://www.fightthesmears.org.
One apparent aim of the site is to distance Obama from the controversial Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, whose operatives are being investigated for potential voter fraud in at least 13 states.
“Fact: Barack was never an ACORN community organizer,” the Web site continues.
“Fact: ACORN never hired Obama as a trainer, organizer, or any type of employee.
“Fact: ACORN was not part of Project Vote, the successful voter registration drive Barack ran in 1992.”
The accuracy of these denials depends in part on their lawyerly wording, on “what the meaning of ‘is’ is,” in former President Bill Clinton’s sophistic phrase.
No one has accused the Illinois senator of having “organized with ACORN” or having been “an ACORN community organizer,” so these denials seem either misplaced or sleight of hand to distract from what his actual ACORN connections have been.
Toni Foulkes, longtime Chicago ACORN leader and a member of ACORN’s National Association Board, says the organization “invited Obama to our leadership training sessions to run the session on power every year, and, as a result, many of our newly developing leaders got to know him before he ever ran for office.”
Obama did give training to ACORN leaders every year from 1993 until at least 2003, when Foulkes published an article saying these things about him in the winter 2003 issue of the journal Social Policy.
Obama also reportedly helped train the staff of a high-ranking ACORN leader Madeline Talbott, later arrested for heading up a disruptive confrontation between ACORN protesters and the Chicago City Council described in a recent Newsmax investigation.
ACORN spokesman Lewis Goldberg is referenced in the Oct. 11 New York Times as acknowledging that, in Times’ reporter Stephanie Strom’s words, “Mr. Obama conducted two leadership training sessions of roughly an hour each for ACORN’s Chicago affiliate over a three-year period in the late 1990s. He was not paid for that work, Mr. Goldberg said.”
So ACORN now says that Obama did training for the organization. But because Obama did these training sessions without pay, and because to hire means “to employ someone for a wage or fee,” it is technically correct to say he was never “hired” to do so.
ACORN both selected and paid Barack Obama as a lawyer in 1995 to sue the state of Illinois to compel implementation of a law known as Motor-Voter. ACORN, however, now says it was only one of several plaintiffs in the case and hence that it would be wrong to say Obama was the organization’s lawyer. But ACORN was the lead plaintiff, and therefore the case is recorded as ACORN, et al. v. Edgar (then-Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar).
In 1992 Obama became Illinois’ statewide head of Project Vote, a 501(c)(3) organization that is required to be nonpartisan to retain its tax-exempt status. The Obama campaign Web site says, “ACORN was not part of Project Vote.” Critics argue that the reverse is true.
In fact, Obama said during a speech to ACORN leaders in November: When “I ran the Project Vote voter registration drive in Illinois, ACORN was smack dab in the middle of it.”
Veteran journalist Karen Tumulty and two of her colleagues described Project Vote in the Oct. 18, 2004, issue of Time magazine as “a nonpartisan arm of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now” after interviewing its national director.
And the co-founder and then head of ACORN itself, former Students for a Democratic Society new leftist Wade Rathke described Project Vote, in 2004 as one of ACORN’s “family of organizations.”
As Newsmax reported last week, Rathke spun off nearly 100 legal entities from ACORN and moved large amounts of money among them. Rathke left the organization this year after it came to light that his brother had diverted almost a million dollars from ACORN coffers.
Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt told the New York Times that a significant part of Project Vote’s revenues today flow to ACORN and various of its affiliates as payment for services. But LaBolt contends that Project Vote and ACORN were not as intertwined in 1992 when Obama ran Project Vote. This month, LaBolt has been telling reporters that Obama had never been “an ACORN trainer.”
It “wasn’t until after Mr. Obama’s tenure had ended that (Project Vote) began to conduct projects more frequently with ACORN than with other community-based organizations,” Project Vote founder attorney Sanford A. Newman wrote in a letter to the Wall Street Journal. Note that this lawyerly letter never denies Project Vote’s deep involvement with ACORN.
“To say that Obama didn’t work for ACORN is just playing word games,” wrote Matthew Vadum of the Capital Research Center, co-author of an investigation titled Barack Obama: A Radical Leftist’s Journey from Community Organizing to Politics.
“It would be like a Sam’s Club employee indignantly insisting he didn’t work for Wal-Mart,” Vadum said. “It boggles the mind why anyone would deny such easily verifiable facts.”
Obama’s critics say he has been remarkably successful at burying his ACORN past until now, in large part with help from liberal allies in the national media who refuse to scrutinize Obama with the same probing investigations they aim at his opponents.
In a story reminiscent of George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984,” whose hero works in a government office rewriting history to erase Big Brother’s past mistakes, the Oct. 9th Cleveland Leader reported, “Attempts to hide evidence of Obama’s involvement in ACORN have included wiping the Web clean of potentially damaging articles.”
The above-mentioned Foulkes article that discussed Obama’s training of ACORN leaders recently was pulled from the Social Policy Web site, the Leader reported. Although this makes information about Obama’s past harder to find for journalists and voters, the Leader noted, scholarly duplicates of the Web retain copies of such texts despite any Orwellian efforts to rewrite Barack Obama’s past.
Los Angeles Times reporters Letta Tayler and Keith Herbert tried to clarify Obama’s past and found getting a clear fix on him elusive.
“Further blurring the picture,” they wrote on March 2, are Barack Obama’s “descriptions of community organizing in his youthful memoir, ‘Dreams From My Father,’ in which he admits he disguises names, creates composite characters, switches some chronologies, and uses ‘approximation’ of dialogue.”