A headline at BigGovernment.com alleges that John McConnell has “disturbing ACORN connections.” But nowhere in the 2,400- word post that follows the headline does author Anita MonCreif spell out any direct connections between McConnell, a Rhode Island attorney who President Obama nominated to a seat on the U.S. District Court of Rhode Island, and ACORN.
The conservative tactic of attacking progressive causes and figures by tying them to ACORN is certainly nothing new, but rarely has the link been as flimsy as the one MonCrief draws to McConnell. In the first paragraph of her piece (which is cross-posted at RedState.com and other blogs), she suggests that McConnell is involved in a “trail of corruption originating from Rhode Island that has spread to DC and polluted the country,” but the trail MonCrief traces is cold.
MonCrief's evidence of McConnell's “disturbing ACORN connections” largely consists of the fact that he represented plaintiffs in a case against lead-paint manufacturers and that ACORN has promoted similar suits around the country. She writes:
In the case of Rhode Island, ACORN formed an alliance with an organization called the Childhood Lead Action Project (CLAP). CLAP was instrumental in pushing the litigation in Ohio and joined with ACORN to file an amicus brief on behalf of McConnell's case.
MonCrief doesn't get any closer to linking McConnell to ACORN than to write that a group once linked to ACORN once filed a court document that supported McConnell's side in a case he was working on.
The rest of the “connection” she draws between McConnell and ACORN involves McConnell's relationship with Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), who reportedly recommended McConnell as a potential nominee. MonCrief goes into some detail about Whitehouse's support for ACORN, but she never gets around to connecting the group to McConnell.
MonCrief wrapped up her piece by writing that McConnell's nomination “wouldn't be the first time an ACORN lawyer with powerful friends was able to get a job he wasn't qualified for.” She followed with a clipped image from Obama's Fight the Smears website about Obama's “supposed connection to ACORN.” MonCrief seems to suggest that the page from Obama's website supports her point, but it actually does the opposite -- it debunked claims that he was an employee of ACORN. In 2008, conservatives tried to attack then-candidate Obama by characterizing him as a community organizer for ACORN. In fact, his involvement with the group was that he represented ACORN in a 1995 lawsuit (the Justice Department joined with ACORN as a plaintiff in the suit) that sought to force the state of Illinois to implement a federal voter registration law.
MonCrief's piece was not the first time that conservatives have tried to attack an Obama judicial nominee by linking him to ACORN. Conservative media outlets previously attacked President Obama's nominee for the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, David Hamilton, by advancing the misleading claim that he had ties to ACORN. However, Hamilton's relationship with the group reportedly consisted of “raising contributions door-to-door for the advocacy group ACORN for one month after college” in 1979.
An April 2009 report by Media Matters for America documented how conservatives in the media have repeatedly cast ACORN as a bogeyman even when the group has little or nothing to do with an issue. For example, media have distorted the facts to claim that ACORN contributed to the housing crisis and have falsely claimed that that ACORN was involved in voter fraud that might alter the outcome of the 2008 election. Right-wing media figures also have falsely claimed that various pieces of legislation contained funding for ACORN, including the economic recovery bill and health care reform legislation.
MonCrief's piece is nothing new, and the “connections” she draws between ACORN and progressives are even weaker than previous conservative attacks.