Sen. Barack Obama, discussing his connections to Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, at the Oct. 15 debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, said "the only involvement I've had with ACORN" was representing them in a voter registration case in Illinois.
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ACORN, a grass-roots community organizing group, faces allegations of filing fraudulent voter registrations in several states. Sen. John McCain, reflecting rising Republican concerns about ACORN, said at the debate "we need to know the full extent of Senator Obama's relationship with ACORN." Obama said any fraudulent registration "had nothing to do with us. We were not involved." And members of the Obama campaign have said the campaign has never paid ACORN to register voters.
On its Web site, ACORN confirms Obama's legal work, saying he "was one of the attorneys there who successfully represented a coalition of groups including ACORN in a legal case that won better enforcement of the National Voter Registration Act in Illinois." The case was filed in 1995. While ACORN said Obama "never organized with or worked for ACORN," it does mention other ties. Obama "accepted two invitations to be an unpaid guest speaker at training for volunteer community leaders organized by Chicago ACORN." That was in the early 1990s.
Additionally, the Obama campaign paid a political consulting group called Citizens' Services' Inc. more than $800,000 early this year for vote canvassing, such as knocking on doors and urging people to vote. The group in turn subcontracted a "small amount" of those funds to ACORN "for recruitment and training of canvassers," ACORN said. Obama campaign advisers stressed in an Oct. 14 teleconference that the campaign paid Citizens' Services Inc. for canvassing, but not voter registration.
False. Obama's legal work was his only professional tie to the group, but he also spoke at volunteer training sessions and his campaign had a contract with a group that worked with ACORN.