MSNBC airs discredited allegation linking White House to ACORN

››› ››› JEREMY SCHULMAN & JOCELYN FONG

RedState contributor Brian Faughnan suggested on MSNBC that White House political affairs director Patrick Gaspard was formerly a "senior" official at ACORN -- a charge that was discredited minutes later by the Politico's Ben Smith. During the segment, MSNBC host Dylan Ratigan did not challenge Faughnan's statement and did not point out to the audience that MSNBC had not verified that the charge was true.

Faughnan on MSNBC: "[I]f there are senior people from ACORN who hold positions of power in the White House like political director ... we need to know what they are doing"

From the 10 a.m. ET hour of the September 29 edition of MSNBC's Morning Meeting:

FAUGHNAN: Well, I don't think I'd couch this in terms of a conspiracy theory. What we have here, according to reports from the House government reform committee in July, is a criminal organization operating across state lines. ACORN has been involved in voter fraud and tax fraud, in hiding embezzlement in violations of the law prior to these recent sting videos. And I think that if there are senior people from ACORN who hold positions of power in the White House like political director, like chief of staffing, that we need to know what they are doing. [emphasis added]

Faughnan's claim echoes American Spectator report that "[e]vidence shows ... Gaspard was ACORN boss Bertha Lewis's political director in New York"

From Matthew Vadum's September 28 American Spectator post:

Newly discovered evidence shows the radical advocacy group ACORN has a man in the Obama White House.

This power behind the throne is longtime ACORN operative Patrick Gaspard. He holds the title of White House political affairs director, the same title Karl Rove held in President Bush's White House.

Evidence shows that years before he joined the Obama administration, Gaspard was ACORN boss Bertha Lewis's political director in New York.

[...]

Because Gaspard's employment with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now is acknowledged by no less an authority than ACORN founder Wade Rathke himself. Rathke writes at his blog:

Tell me that 1199's former political director, Patrick Gaspard (who was ACORN New York's political director before that) didn't reach out from the White House and help make that happen, and I'll tell you to take some remedial classes in "politics 101."

Politico's Ben Smith: "American Spectator report ... that White House political director Patrick Gaspard used to work for ACORN in New York just isn't true"

From Smith's September 29 blog post, which was posted at 10:42 a.m. ET:

ACORN attack misses mark

I hate to put a damper on the day's firestorm on the right over a White House staffer, but an American Spectator report making the rounds this morning that White House political director Patrick Gaspard used to work for ACORN in New York just isn't true.

The Spectator (accurately) quotes ACORN founder Wade Rathke claiming that Gaspard was political director at the group's New York chapter at some point before 2003.

I covered New York politics at the time, and that was news to me; the also White House denies it. But just to be sure, I checked checked just now with Gaspard's former boss, whom he ultimately replaced as the political director of the giant New York SEIU local, 1199, Jennifer Cunningham. Cunningham confirmed to me that he'd worked for her starting in 1999; that he'd worked for a City Council member before that; and before that, for the Dinkins Administration.

The fact that Rathke got this wrong does provide more evidence of how totally decentralized and disorganized -- contrary to the claims of both fans and detractors -- the group is, but that's all it says.

The Spectator piece is a model of the sort of guilt-by-association Google work in which partisans of both sides specialize. Gaspard is also allegedly linked -- gasp! -- to Rep. Jerry Nadler. Writes the Spectator:

As the old Washington saying goes, politics is personnel. Who knows how many administration officials were put in place by Gaspard with direct input from ACORN's Bertha Lewis. It boggles the mind.

Transcript

From the 10 a.m. ET hour of the September 29 edition of MSNBC's Morning Meeting:

RATIGAN: Brian Faughnan, contributor to RedState.com; we, of course, have the presence here in studio of Arianna Huffington, co-founder, editor in chief of The Huffington Post.

Brian, I want to begin with you. When you look at all the various conspiracies -- and we'll start with ACORN, which is where your attention is focused. What do you think the priorities should be for all of us, whether it's bloggers, people like myself hosting TV shows, Arianna, or anybody else, when it comes to asking questions of the relationship and conspiracies that are speculated in our government?

FAUGHNAN: Well, I don't think I'd couch this in terms of a conspiracy theory. What we have here, according to reports from the House government reform committee in July, is a criminal organization operating across state lines. ACORN has been involved in voter fraud and tax fraud, in hiding embezzlement in violations of the law prior to these recent sting videos. And I think that if there are senior people from ACORN who hold positions of power in the White House like political director, like chief of staffing, that we need to know what they are doing.

RATIGAN: I have a question for you, and again, I won't get into an ACORN debate one way or another. But I do wonder, when you see the corrupt nature or outdated nature of so many of our government systems, financial systems, obviously that we perpetuate a monopoly right now in health care for reasons I can't comprehend, why do you choose to devote your resources to this?

Not that it's not a valid concern, but it strikes me as maybe number 20 or 30 on the list of priorities in terms of outdated systems and problems in our government when you look at the few trillion that came out of the taxpayer last year, and a health care debate right now that refuses to address the elephant in the room, which is the health care monopoly and the employer-based health care system.

Posted In
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Dylan Ratigan
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Attacks on Barack Obama
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