John McCain's campaign is continuing to press Barack Obama on ACORN, the liberal activist group accused of voter registration fraud, capitalizing on news today that the FBI has opened an investigation.
The Associated Press is reporting that the FBI was looking at results of recent raids on ACORN offices in several states for any evidence of a coordinated national scam. But a spokesman for ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, told the AP that "ACORN has not been notified that we are the target of an investigation by any authorities -- nor should we be. ACORN members have done a good and patriotic thing by helping bring more than a million of their fellow citizens into our democratic process."
While ACORN says it has registered 1.3 million young people, minorities, and poor and working-class voters, who tend to be Democrats, some employees have been accused of submitting false voter registration forms with names of dead people or fictitious characters.
During Wednesday night's debate, McCain accused ACORN of "maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country, maybe destroying the fabric of democracy.”
McCain's campaign manager Rick Davis issued a statement this afternoon: "Given the fact the FBI has launched a nationwide investigation into the questionable voter registration practices of ACORN, it is imperative that Barack Obama's campaign cooperate fully with this important investigation. To date, in public announcements including last night's debate, Barack Obama has attempted to conceal and distort his and his campaign's relationship with a group that is currently engaging in systematic voter fraud. Barack Obama's campaign must fully disclose the true nature of his association with ACORN. In the spirit of a fair election Barack Obama should assist in this process prior to Election Day."
ACORN has responded to McCain's attacks in part by noting that he attended a 2006 immigration rally it sponsored.
"We appreciate that Senator McCain's effort to stir up the Republican base by attacking a community organization working to increase public participation in our democratic process. However, these attacks reflect an increasingly panicked candidate," Maude Hurd, ACORN’s national president, said in a statement.
"It is clear for us to see that John McCain was for ACORN before he was against ACORN; he was for reform before he was against reform; and he was a maverick before he became erratic. What is really going here is that Senator McCain and his allies are part of a coordinated effort to engage in what appears to be an unprecedented effort to suppress voter turnout. Repeating a lie doesn't make it true, and the McCain campaign has resorted to the worst type of deceptions in regards to ACORN."
Liberal groups are also coming to ACORN's side.
People for the American Way said this afternoon it will buy a full-page ad in The New York Times "charging the right wing with misleading the public in the ACORN voter registration controversy" and criticizing a media frenzy that has reached a "fever pitch."
“What’s really threatening to destroy the fabric of our democracy are right-wing efforts to suppress millions of newly registered voters, both Democrats and Republicans around the country,” Kathryn Kolbert, the group's president, said in a statement. “ACORN should be commended for registering 1.3 million Democrats and Republicans to vote in this historic upcoming presidential election."
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.