In her memoir, Going Rogue, Sarah Palin claims that the McCain campaign “did not elaborate on” what she describes as then-Senator Obama's “close relationship with ACORN, the voter-fraud specialists.” In fact, McCain, Palin, and various McCain spokespeople all advanced ridiculous conspiracy theories about Obama and ACORN, and McCain campaign manger Rick Davis went so far as to suggest that the purported relationship placed the election under a “cloud of suspicion.”
From Going Rogue:
On the campaign trail many had been hesitant to talk about legitimate fears that Obama's past comments and associations with anti-capitalist radicals would influence his economic policy. The press gave the impression it was the wrong thing to do. I was “going rogue” when I answered reporters' questions about candidate Obama's associations and pals. I wish we had talked more about them, and about Obama's close relationship with ACORN, the voter-fraud specialists. But we did not elaborate on any of that during the campaign. [Going Rogue, pp. 359-360]
In fact, McCain, Palin, and rest of campaign advanced ACORN/OBAMA conspiracy theories
McCain repeatedly raised “Obama's relationship with ACORN” during presidential debate. From the transcript of the October 15, 2008, presidential debate:
MCCAIN: We need to know the full extent of Senator Obama's relationship with ACORN, who is now on the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy. The same front outfit organization that your campaign gave $832,000 for “lighting and site selection.” So all of these things need to be examined, of course.
OBAMA: Now, with respect to ACORN, ACORN is a community organization. Apparently what they've done is they were paying people to go out and register folks, and apparently some of the people who were out there didn't really register people, they just filled out a bunch of names.
It had nothing to do with us. We were not involved. The only involvement I've had with ACORN was I represented them alongside the U.S. Justice Department in making Illinois implement a motor voter law that helped people get registered at DMVs.
MCCAIN: Well, again, while you were on the board of the Woods Foundation, you and Mr. Ayers, together, you sent $230,000 to ACORN. So -- and you launched your political campaign in Mr. Ayers' living room.
OBAMA: That's absolutely not true.
MCCAIN: And the facts are facts and records are records.
OBAMA: And that's not the facts.
MCCAIN: And it's not the fact -- it's not the fact that Senator Obama chooses to associate with a guy who in 2001 said that he wished he had have bombed more, and he had a long association with him. It's the fact that all the -- all of the details need to be known about Senator Obama's relationship with them and with ACORN and the American people will make a judgment. [Third Presidential Debate,]
Palin: Obama is “fuzzying up his connections to ACORN.” At an October 17 rally in West Chester, Ohio, Palin said (transcript accessed via Nexis):
PALIN: Senator Obama won't tell you the full truth about his tax increases, and now he's kind of fuzzying up his connections to ACORN. (Boos.) This is the same candidate who's running ads that are distorting our plans for lower healthcare costs for all of you.
Now, ACORN is under investigation for rampant voter fraud in 13 states, and a front group for ACORN received over $800,000 from the Obama campaign. (Boos.) Now, Obama says that his only involvement with ACORN was when he represented the group as a lawyer, but what about the training that he provided ACORN in the past, ACORN staff, and his role in past ACORN voter registration efforts? And then there's the $200,000 that he got for ACORN when he was on the board of the Woods Fund, and the fact that ACORN endorsed him this year and they're working pretty hard on his behalf.
As for ACORN and voter fraud, now, they're under federal investigation and John and I are calling on the Obama campaign to release communications it has had with this group, and to do so immediately. (Cheers, applause.) And we are asking for this, not picking on someone or someone's campaign; we're asking this is in fairness to all of you, the American voters. You deserve to know. (Cheers, applause.) You deserve to know because we do need to know more clearly about the choices that we have on November 4th. In this election, especially here in Ohio, you're going to be asked to choose between a candidate who will not disavow a group committing voter fraud and a leader who will not tolerate it. (Cheers, applause.) This group needs to learn that you here in Ohio, you won't let them turn the Buckeye State into the ACORN State. (Cheers, applause.)
McCain campaign manager Davis discussed Obama's purported “relationship with ACORN” while asserting “cloud of suspicion” hanging “over this election.” During an October 17 conference call on “Senator Barack Obama's association with ACORN,” Davis said (accessed via Nexis):
DAVIS We believe that these issues are important in a close election. We believe that many of these states that are under investigation have had historical close elections and could be very close again and that we should do nothing in this campaign or in the press to do anything other than to ensure that there's a total confidence level that on Election Day, and more importantly, the day after an election, that people believe that they've had a fair and honest election and that the person who they chose to be the next president of the United States does so without a cloud of suspicion that seems to right now hang over this election.
It's pretty clear that Barack Obama decided not to use the opportunity this week to spell out what's going on with his relationship with ACORN. We talked about in the past how ACORN has been involved with him as far back as his tenure on the Woods Foundation, his comments on his website that he's fought along ACORN his entire career, his early training of ACORN employees, and he did mention that, you know, the ACORN representation in a court suit with the federal government. I don't understand -- I mean, unless they think there is a problem with his relationship with ACORN, why they wouldn't just come clean and talk about these things.
But more importantly, I think it's worth noting that there are still many questions about the $800,000 that ACORN got from his campaign within this last year. We put out a press release this week that touched on some of these issues, that we asked for full disclosure of those funds. What does it go to? What was the relationship with Citizens' Services, Inc., and what exactly was Citizens' Services, Inc.'s relationship with ACORN? They claim that virtually all of this money was spent outside the ACORN organization. Can they prove that? Can they elaborate on that? Can they explain what it was spent for?
I think that if they're going to use these kinds of excuses to diminish their obvious historical relationship with ACORN, that they owe it to the public and to the press to (scorge ?) whatever written communication that they've had with these organizations in order to establish confidence that there wasn't something more to it. Have they denied, in fact, that they have any ongoing relationship with ACORN? Just as recently as the financial bailout debate in the Senate in this last month, Barack Obama actively supported a Senate plan to cut ACORN into a percentage of the profits that would be generated by a massive trillion dollar bailout as part of -- as part of a failed negotiation attempt that Barack Obama and the leadership -- Democratic leadership in Congress claimed was the deal that John McCain upset the apple cart on. I think the American public are probably happy that that deal never transpired.
We also have suggested that, you know, we examine exactly what voter registration activity was compiled by ACORN as a part of this relationship with the Barack Obama campaign. What did they do in turnout? What were the nature of the functions that they performed, and did they -- what did they get for the $800,000 that they spent on this? You know, they claimed that this money was used in Ohio primary. We know how close Ohio has been in past elections. We know how a few votes made up the difference in many of the most recent elections.
Davis led conference call on “ongoing scandal ... related to ACORN and the Obama campaign.” From the transcript of an October 30 McCain-Palin campaign conference call (access via Nexis):
DAVIS: It's an exciting close in the campaign that's going on, but we wanted to take a break from our daily activity to update everybody on an ongoing scandal that has been evolving over time related to ACORN and the Obama campaign.
I think that the reason we bring this up is because there are a lot of lingering questions that continue, even though we've learned more and more about ACORN over the last couple weeks. How did ACORN get this list from the Obama campaign? Did they pay for it? If so, how much? What was the value given? There's no record of a transaction in the FEC reports that we can find between ACORN and the Obama campaign related to a valuable fundraising list. If they did buy it -- if they didn't buy it, how did they get it? Who in the campaign was the principal point of contact for ACORN, and what beyond this list may have been done? We've learned from Ms. Moncrief that there was an active fundraising activity going between their organizations -- what other activities are going on that we haven't learned about yet? Why can't the Obama campaign come clean with their relationship with ACORN, and why do we have to constantly be learning about this from organizations outside the news media? I mean, we've learned more from the court system than we've heard from the press about the investigations into Obama's relationship with ACORN. It just seems to me a pattern that has been followed pretty religiously by the news media of not asking the hard questions of the Obama campaign. If this were a Republican organization, I daresay there would be a different attitude by the press as it relates to it.
One of the questions remaining, too, is did the Obama campaign hide in any way its relationship with ACORN as it relates to this fundraising? We know they attempted to hide their relationship with ACORN when they hired them with over $800,000 of their campaign receipts to perform get-out-the-vote activity. They originally posted it as event expenses until further requests by the FEC for more information -- they finally changed their disclaimer on it.
What's interesting about that is there's never been any real disclosure of what that money went to. ACORN itself claims in only received a tenth of that money, so where did the rest of it go? Is the Obama campaign in the process -- or in the habit of giving away $800,000 in a vacuum? If so, I've got a couple of campaign bills I wouldn't mind being paid. You know, they've got more money than we do. I wouldn't mind sharing the wealth a little bit. It seems to be something that there's a high priority by the Obama campaign.
So I think these questions are legitimate. We don't have answers to these questions. Maybe in the ongoing pursuit of justice in the Pennsylvania state court there will be more answers to these questions, but I would think that before Election Day, while we still have time, while there's still time to expose what is clearly a secret relationship between the Obama campaign and the ACORN organization, and why isn't it that Barack Obama isn't held accountable for specifically not telling the truth about his relationship with the ACORN organization.
McCain-Palin foreign policy adviser: “Obama's chief claim to experience is ... doing legal work with ACORN.” During an October 20 McCain-Palin campaign conference call, foreign policy adviser Randy Scheunemann said (accessed via nexis):
SCHEUNEMANN: The next president of the United States will be tested. There are enemies of the United States that are awaiting the results of this election. John McCain's passed every test in his life. He spent over two decades wearing the uniform of this country. He spent over two decades travelling the world, learning the issues, getting to know the leaders, and taking very difficult positions. Senator Obama's chief claim to experience is leading in the front lines of community organizing and acting as -- doing legal work with ACORN. As Joe Biden said, Senator Obama would invite testing, and his responses would not be the right ones.
Davis refers to Obama's purported “relationship with the ACORN group that's under investigation right now.” From the October 12 broadcast of Fox News Sunday (accessed via Nexis):
DAVIS: I mean, this is one of the reasons why I think it's a germane topic in this debate, because the press has basically given a free pass to Barack Obama so that none of his background gets challenged.
And so whether it's his relationship with Bill Ayers, his relationship with Tony Rezco, his relationship with the ACORN group that's under investigation right now, and many other things.