From the Archives: ACORN Corruption Runs Deep

In what obviously was part of a concerted effort, former President Bill Clinton appeared recently on Sunday’s Meet the Press to discuss – wait for it – the “real” forces behind President Obama’s falling poll numbers and increasing opposition:

Former President Bill Clinton says the right-wing conspiracy that attacked him during his presidency now is after President Obama.

Democrats–no strangers to major scandal–do not hesitate to divert attention away from the corruption and “pay to play” tactics being exposed or simmering just under the surface. Clinton deliberately inserted himself into a critically important national debate and thereby unwisely opened the tomb of similar scandals, potentially more explosive than his unwise dalliances with Monica Lewinsky.


For most of the 1990’s, the White House, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Citizen Action and ACORN’s Project Vote were embroiled in what would become known as “Teamstergate.”

That scandal involved disgraced former union crusader and Teamster national president Ron Carey. According to New York Times Archives:

Three of Mr. Carey’s campaign aides have pleaded guilty to a web of illegal fund-raising schemes, including having the union donate $735,000 to three liberal grass-roots groups for a get-out-the-vote effort during the 1996 Congressional elections. In return, those groups and their supporters were to channel money to Mr. Carey’s re-election campaign…

Insisting that he delegated decisions on political gifts, Mr. Carey repeatedly denied knowing about the large donations to the three liberal groups: Citizen Action, Project Vote and the National Council of Senior Citizens.

The Organizations Involved:


Project Vote, a supposedly non-partisan 501(c)(3) organization and Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) affiliate that used its highly touted voter registrations efforts for the Teamsters.

According to a Congressional Report

Project Vote is working hard to turn out minority voters in North Carolina, where Harvey Gantt is running close to defeating Sen. Jesse Helms…. All of our North Carolina locals are active in the effort to defeat Helms…. We have been asked to provide $75,000 to Project Vote. I can’t think of a more important goal anywhere in the country than to turn out a huge vote that helps defeat Helms….

The report summarized the exhibit memo this way:

The memorandum clearly demonstrates that the goal of IBT leadership was to help a particular candidate for federal office- Harvey Gantt – and not to support non-partisan GOTV efforts. Whether or not these contributions constitute the type of activity prohibited by FEC regulations, the contributions, at a minimum, violate the law’s apparent intent. What the IBT could not do directly – namely, spend treasury funds to help a particular candidate – it did through an ostensibly non-partisan GOTV organization.


Particularly noteworthy is the date the Congressional report specified as the genesis of this cozy relationship:

The Teamsters’ political agenda led to the contribution swap schemes that corrupted the union’s 1996 elections. In 1992, IBT leaders began to develop close ties with the Clinton Administration and the Democratic Party, and, more specifically, with the Democratic-leaning organizations that ended up participating in the swap schemes, including Citizen Action, Project VOTE, and the National Council for Senior Citizens. Without these close relationships, it is doubtful that IBT leaders could have perpetrated the swap schemes that are now the subject of criminal proceedings in New York.

The Teamsters had a strong political hold in Chicago at the time. The report shows that the Teamster seemed to favor Project Vote and Citizen Action, by putting money and political power behind them. The Teamsters:

  • donated $20,000 to the Illinois Hispanic Democratic Council for voter registration
  • dedicated 100 phones to Project VOTE
  • contributed $37,500 to a massive GOTV phone banking operation run by Project VOTE bringing over 600,000 newly registered voters to the polls;
  • staffed national GOTV phone bank [run] out of IBT headquarters
  • worked with retirees
  • handled security for President Clinton and Vice President Gore
  • organized bus caravans for the candidates
  • established a “War Room” at IBT headquarters


About that time a young organizer finished his training at the Midwest Academy under the tutelage of Heather Booth.

In 1991, he took time off from his law firm to run a voter-registration drive for Project Vote, an Acorn partner that was soon fully absorbed under the Acorn umbrella. The drive registered 135,000 voters and was considered a major factor in the upset victory of Democrat Carol Moseley Braun over incumbent Democratic Senator Alan Dixon in the 1992 Democratic Senate primary.

At the same time Booth “directed the Field Operation for Illinois Democrat Carol Moseley Braun’s successful run for the U.S. Senate.” More on Booth shortly. That organizer was now President Obama and his association with Project Vote/ACORN could not have come at a better time. While Obama was busy registering voters, Project Vote had the backing of a powerful labor union, the Democrat party and even the Clinton White House:

During early 1995, the Teamsters, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the Service Employees International Union, Citizen Action, and the National Council of Senior Citizens created ‘The ’95 Project’ (also known as ‘Project ’95’), ‘to develop a local progressive coalition…

Project ’95 may have had close ties to the White House. Individuals affiliated with Project ’95 briefed senior White House officials about the plan, including the fact that the goal behind the project was ‘to take back the Congress.’

The Subcommittee notes that White House communications with Project VOTE began at least a year earlier, and that Mr. Carey has stated that the IBT ‘worked in coordination with’ Project VOTE, Citizen Action and other advocacy groups on ‘many… different campaigns.'”

Citizen Action, co- founded by Heather Booth, whose appearance at ACORN 39th Anniversary Celebration was spotlighted by Glenn Beck.

Booth trained activists like the young Obama in Chicago, maintained extensive ties with ACORN and played a major role in the moving parts of Teamstergate according to the Congressional report:

Six months before the formation of ‘Project ’95,’ just shortly after the Republicans captured control of Congress, Citizen Action drafted a plan entitled ‘Campaign ’96 to Reclaim the House of Representatives.’ The plan instructed participants to: ‘Build coalitions… of our traditional allies; agree on a target list of vulnerable House Republicans; and pool our resources to be as effective as possible in each district.’


The Congressional report delved deeper into the plan and found that through her connections with the DNC and the Unions, Booth was rewarded with training activists like Obama across the country. Karen Innman of the ACORN 8 attended such a program in Chicago in 2001.

Congressional report:

Just days after that plan was written, Heather Booth – a founder, co-director and president of Citizen Action – drafted a memorandum to three Democratic National Committee staff members that discussed field mobilization during the 1995 and 1996 elections. The memo lists seven organizations, including two unions and Citizen Action, that ‘will commit substantial resources for some version of a targeted Congressional District mobilization. Each of these groups will want to make their own presentation to the White House with their own plan….

The DNC had close links to Citizen Action throughout the 1996 campaign. For example, Heather Booth served as DNC training director. In that position, she coordinated DNC-operated training centers for party activists at various sites around the country.

If at First You Don’t Succeed:


For those who have been paying attention, there is an eerie sense of deja vu as one compares efforts in the 2008 presidential campaign to the DNC’s efforts in the 90’s.

Luckily for Clinton, the media focused on unpopular HillaryCare, Monica’s dress and Whitewater and he extricated himself from these problems, winning re-election and avoiding removal from office as Hillary stood by her man and blasted the right and the Clinton machine vilified his critics..

The Congressional report offers a stunning but familiar assessment of its findings:

In the end, of course, their plan was an astonishing success: the Democratic Party raised three times as much money for the 1996 election as it had for the 1992 contest, and President Clinton was re-elected. The President’s success, however, came at a steep price. In the frenzied drive to raise such large amounts of campaign money, the Democratic Party dismantled its own internal vetting procedures, no longer caring, in effect, where its money came from and who was supplying it. Worse, their campaign eviscerated federal fundraising laws and reduced the White House, key Administration offices, and the Presidency itself, to fundraising tools

This increasingly mercenary approach also led the Democratic Party to view America’s ethnic communities as exploitable ‘renewable resources’ for political fundraising.

Sound familiar? See Using the lesson learned in the 1990’s, ACORN/Project Vote and Citizen Action re-branded and started over. Project Vote remained relatively unscathed while the media and investigators failed to mention ACORN’s ties to Project Vote.


Taking the lesson and indictment to heart, some Democrats became more organized in their quest to pull America to the far left. New organizations were created with what seemed to be the express purpose of providing the appearance of legality to their endeavors. The same operations remained in place behind the scenes with new front groups. Discover the Networks has the scoop:

The so-called ‘Shadow Democratic Party’ or ‘Shadow Party‘ is a nationwide network of non-profit activist groups, whose agendas are ideologically to the left, which are engaged in campaigning for the Democrats. Its activities include fundraising, get-out-the-vote drives, political advertising and covert operations (including opposition research, media manipulation and ‘dirty tricks’).

The Shadow Party was conceived and organized principally by George Soros, Hillary Clinton and Harold McEwan Ickes – all identified with the Democratic Party left.

In its mix of more than five-dozen unions, activist groups and think tanks, the Shadow Party has built a mighty coalition, marrying the youthful energy of the MTV generation with the ideological fervor of New Left activists who cut their political teeth in the battles of the 1960s with the ruthless tactics and financial power of New Labor, whose flagship unions – the SEIU and the AFSCME – have managed to thrive while other unions shrink, through the ingenious expedient of organizing workers in the fastest-growing sector of the U.S. economy: the government workforce. Many of the political strategists and operatives spearheading this government union movement are veterans of the New Left themselves.

Notable affiliate organizations of the Shadow party include John Podesta’s Center for American Progress, ACORN, Media Matters and

History Repeating itself?


During the 2007-2008 election cycle, ACORN and Project Vote launched an extensive voter registration program in battleground states. However, behind the scenes extensive coordination seemed to be occurring between the Obama Campaign, Citizens Services Inc. (an affiliate of ACORN) and Project Vote. Obama and his campaign have denied the ties, but payments made to CSI have been called into question:

…But the Obama campaign didn’t appear eager to discuss the candidate’s ties to Acorn. Its press operation vividly denied Mr. Obama had been an Acorn trainer until the New York Times uncovered records demonstrating that he had been. The Obama campaign also gave Citizens Consulting, Inc., an Acorn subsidiary, $832,000 for get-out-the-vote activities in key primary states. In filings with the Federal Election Commission, the Obama campaign listed the payments as ‘staging, sound, lighting,’ only correcting the filings after the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review revealed their true nature.

In addition to this coordination, ACORN and Project Vote have a laundry list of activities that parallel Teamstergate:

1. Project Vote has violated its 501(c)(3) status by using government and private grants that ultimately go directly or indirectly to ACORN.

2. ACORN, Project Vote and Citizens Services Inc. (CSI) are essentially the same organization with different tax designations that are used to facilitate the transfer of money between the affiliate organizations.

3. ACORN has promoted a culture of dishonesty motivated by reaching target Voter Registration goals and senior staff have portrayed an attitude that allows for some ‘bad’ cards in order to reach these goal.

4. Karyn Gillette, Project Vote Development Director, Jeff Robinson, senior Project Vote ‘money man’ and Mr. Henderson-James was “Research Director for Project Vote while simultaneously serving as part of ACORN political operations.” It appears that they are all employed or in some way paid by CSI and may have worked directly with anyone seeking the services of CSI; and money paid to CSI would have obvious ACORN ties.

5. Zach Polett, former Executive Director of Project Vote and former director of ACORN Political Operations mentioned that Obama had worked for ACORN and that he even supervised him during a ACORN Political staff retreat in November 2007.

In late 2007, Project Vote received a call from the Obama campaign asking if this was the same Project Vote that Obama worked for in the 90’s. Zach Polett, Karyn Gillette, Nathan Henderson James, and Kevin Whelan were notified by email that the campaign wanted someone to call them back regarding some media questions that were being asked at the time. Karyn Gillette would later produce a donor list and infer that she direct contact with the Obama campaign and had obtained their donor lists. This meeting took place sometime in November of 2007 and may have even been a conference call between the campaign and Project Vote. The purpose of the Obama donor list was for the cultivation of maxed out donors who could give to the voter registration drive that was being run by ACORN.

Media Bias

No Democrat scandal is complete without the media acting as accomplices. As the current push for health care by the mainstream media indicates, newspapers are a loyal bunch. When disgraced Teamster Ron Carey died in 2008, the New York Times and Washington Post downplayed his fall as a mere ‘campaign finance’ problem. The papers took great pains to highlight his works as a crusader and reformer.

New York Times reporter Stephanie Strom had to be informed of Teamstergate by yours truly in 2008, although The Times had done a number of stories on Ron Carey. If New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt had checked The Times’ own archives, he would been able to find a pattern of behavior by Project Vote that clearly mirrored the evidence provided to Strom before she was told to “stand down” by her editors.

The media has played a key role in covering up the connections between the key people associated with Teamstergate, ACORN and Obama.

To summarize: ACORN/Project Vote, the Unions (SEIU made its grand political debut in this report), Citizen Action, the DNC and Obama. All the makings of a tremendous political scandal. Part two of this article will highlight the political players from the Teamstergate/Clinton era who have found their way into the Obama fold while still maintaining close ACORN ties and cover provided for them by the media.


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