Justin Rood of ABC news came out with a tortured defense of ACORN today with the help of "experts" that claim there is no connection between invalid voter registrations and voter fraud. In order for Rood to make this claim he relies on the testimony of two "experts", namely Civil Rights attorney David Becker and Lorraine Minnite, a political science professor at Barnard College in New York.
A further examination of these two experts however shows that Rood is downright deceitful in presenting this argument. Lorraine Minnite actually donated $250 to the Obama campaign in March of this year while David Becker is anything but the Republican that he is portrayed as in the article. In fact Mr. Becker is a former director at People for the American Way, a liberal activist group that monitors "right wing organizations" and is currently launching a campaign aimed at Fighting Back Against Right-Wing Smears of ACORN.
Just in case you were unconvinced of the objectivity of Becker's former group note that they will be launching a full page ad in the New York Times in defense of ACORN.
We can hardly call these experts objective yet they are the people that ABC News is relying on to gloss over the multi-state voter fraud activities of a group that is intricately tied to Barack Obama.
An example of just how dishonest Rood is in his report is his characterization of Mr. Becker.
But McCain's voter fraud worries – about Acorn or anyone else – are unsupported by the facts, said experts on election fraud, who recall similar concerns being raised in several previous elections, despite a near-total absence of cases.
"There's no evidence that any of these invalid registrations lead to any invalid votes," said David Becker, project director of the "Make Voting Work" initiative for the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Becker should know: he was a lawyer for the Bush administration until 2005, in the Justice Department's voting rights section, which was part of the administration's aggressive anti-vote-fraud effort.
This is called validation by omission, as if working in the Bush justice department implies that you are a Republican supporter. Omitted are the facts that Becker is a Berkeley graduate that also worked in the justice department for the Clinton administration. After leaving the justice department he spent nearly two years as the director of People For the American Way, a Tides Foundation project that monitors the activities of right wing groups, and has partnered with left leaning advocacy groups such as NARAL, NOW, the ACLU, the NAACP and the AFL-CIO just to name a few.
Becker also wrote a 2005 article in the Washington Post called Reviving Jim Crow?. This article took for President Jimmy Carter's side of the argument claiming that a Georgia law requiring voter ID was a form of discrimination; an argument that was rejected by the Supreme Court of the United States.
I have no doubt that Becker is an expert lawyer but I'd be a little skeptical to consider him objective about ACORN by any stretch of the imagination.
As for the use of Lorainne Minnite, what can I say?
"We're chasing these ghosts of voter fraud, like chickens without a head," said Lorraine Minnite, a political science professor at Barnard College in New York who has researched voter fraud and fraud claims for most of the past decade. "I think it's completely overblown, I think it's meant to be a distraction."
"This stuff does not threaten the outcome of the election," said Minnite. "How many illegal ballots have been cast by people who are fraudulently registered to vote? By my count, it's zero. I just don't know of any, I've been looking for years for this stuff."
Glad she can count. Too bad she can't be transparent and disclose her support of Barack Obama up front. It is both indefensible and unprofessional to use an Obama campaign contributor without attribution as an expert in a news article to dispute John McCain.
Finally Rood resorts to a blurb on Fact Check.org as final proof that there is no evidence linking ACORN's massive dump of invalid registrations to an attempt to commit voter fraud.
Even the non-partisan truth-in-politics Web site FactCheck.org called foul on McCain's alleged possible conspiracy, noting that a Republican prosecutor handling a key Acorn registration fraud case has said there's no evidence indicating the group was involved in vote fraud.
This displays a sort of fifth grade logic, taking one case from the past and presenting it as some sort of all encompassing proof. But then I am probably dissing fifth graders here because even they know that a single example doesn't form a rule.
Even though the FactCheck.org site is completely anemic in terms of evidence supporting or negating proof of voter fraud with respect to ACORN we can note that the site does lists the following that is conveniently omitted in the ABC report:
It's true that the voter registration wing of the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now has run into trouble in several states. ACORN employees have been investigated and in some cases indicted for voter registration fraud. Most recently, more than 2,000 registrations in Lake County, Ind., have turned out to be falsified.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the table, Obama wasn't entirely forthcoming about his relationship with ACORN:
Obama: The only involvement I've had with ACORN is, I represented them alongside the U.S. Justice Department in making Illinois implement a motor voter law that helped people get registered at DMVs.
He did, but that wasn't his only involvement. He also worked closely with ACORN's Chicago office when he ran a Project Vote registration drive after law school, and Obama did some leadership training for Chicago ACORN. The Woods Fund, where Obama served as a board member, gave grants to ACORN's Chicago branch; both organizations are concerned with disadvantaged populations in that city. And during the primaries of this election, Obama's campaign paid upwards of $800,000 to the ACORN-affiliated Campaign Services Inc. for get-out-the-vote efforts (not voter registration). Those services were initially misrepresented on the campaign's Federal Election Commission reports, an error that some find suspicious and others say is par for the course.