Michael Gaynor
What New York Times did NOT report about ACORN, Obama, and itself
By Michael Gaynor
March 20, 2009

What ARE very newsworthy, but not yet much known, are the pre-Election Day 2008 relationship between Ms. MonCrief and The New York Times and the shameless, but skillful, way The New York Times managed its ACORN coverage to protect Obama by concealing important facts from the voters.

Better late than never.

On March 19, 2009, attorney Heather Heidelbaugh testified before the House Judiciary Committee's subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties.

But don't expect to find these illuminating excerpts from her testimony in The New York Times:

"On October 29, 2008, I represented a candidate, voters and the Republican State Committee of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in a preliminary injunction before the Commonwealth Court in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania against ACORN and The Secretary of the Commonwealth. The Complaint alleged violations of the Pennsylvania Election code, Fraud and Misrepresentation and Violation of Equal Protection and Due Process. The Complaint asked the Court to Order the Secretary of the Commonwealth, the state administrator of Elections, to make certain that the computer data base of registered voters mandated by HAVA, known in Pennsylvania as the SURE system, was running properly and was on line consistently to election workers throughout the Commonwealth. Further, the injunction requested that the Court direct the Secretary to require that all election officials comply with HAVA and request and receive identification from all first time registrants, as required by law. And lastly, the Complaint asked the Secretary to insure there were adequate amounts of provisional ballots printed and available at each polling place.

"The injunctive requests against ACORN sought the Court's Order that ACORN stop encouraging voting by individuals that they knew had falsely registered to vote, to provide to the Plaintiffs copies of the voter registration materials obtained by ACORN and known by ACORN to be false, that public service announcements be funded ACORN to educate first time voters that they would be required to provide identification at the polling place, and that ACORN be ordered to abide by the same terms to which ACORN had agreed with King County Washington prosecutors in the King County Settlement and Compliance Agreement to not fraudulently register individuals to vote. The Injunction was filed on October 17, 2008, based on information and facts obtained from Election workers and officials across the Commonwealth, and news reports about criminal activity of ACORN in the Commonwealth of PA. Four days later on October 21, I received a call from a woman I did not know. She informed me that she had worked for ACORN in their Washington, DC office for a number of years, had heard about the lawsuit I had filed, and had some information for me about ACORN. This individual, Ms. Anita Moncrief, agreed to testify in the court proceedings because, as she later testified under oath: 'I contacted you once I heard about the lawsuit because I felt like this might be a chance for the truth actually to get out.' [page 81, lines 6-17].

"The next day I traveled to Washington, DC and met for the first time Anita Moncrief, who is seated in the front row here today. I have spent hours talking to Ms. Moncrief about what she had learned about ACORN from her years in the ACORN DC office and Ms. Moncrief agreed to testify under oath, subject to the penalty of perjury.

"One of the first things that Ms. Moncrief told me was that she had been fired from her job for using an ACORN credit card for personal expenses. When she worked at ACORN in DC, she lived in a low rent apartment with rats in Baltimore with a new baby and was only making $25,000 per year with ACORN. She charged moving expenses to the ACORN credit card, wrongly, and hoped to pay it back. The total amount owed is less than $2,000 but she was fired.

"Thereafter, she informed me that she had been a confidential informant for several months to the New York Times Reporter, Stephanie Strom, who had been writing articles about ACORN based on the information that she had provided.[page 81, lines 18-25] [Ms. Strom wrote the following articles about Acorn from July 9, 2008 to October 21, 2008: 1.) 'Funds Misappropriated at 2 Nonprofit Groups' July 9, 2008; 2.) 'Head of Foundation Bailed Out Nonprofit Group After Is Funds Were Embezzled' August 16, 2008; 3.)'Lawsuit Add to Turmoil for Community Group' September 9, 2008; 4.) 'On Obama, ACORN and Voter Registration' October 10, 2008; 5.) 'ACORN Working on Deal to Sever Ties with Founder' October 15, 2008; and 6.) 'ACORN Report Raises Issues of Legality' October 21, 2008.] The New York Times articles stopped when Ms. Moncrief, who is a Democrat and a supporter of the President, revealed that the Obama Presidential Campaign had sent its maxed out donor list to Karen Gillette of the Washington, DC ACORN office and asked Gillette and Ms. Moncrief to reach out to the maxed out donors and solicit donations from them for Get Out the Vote efforts to be run by ACORN. Upon learning this information and receiving the list of donors from the Obama Campaign, Ms. Strom reported to Ms. Moncrief that her editors at the New York Times wanted her to kill the story because, and I quote, 'it was a game changer.' That's when Ms. Moncrief telephoned me on October 21, 2008. Ms. Strom never wrote another article about ACORN for the New York Times for the remainder of the period before Election Day, i.e. November 4, 2008.

"Ms. Moncrief testified at the Injunction hearing about the telephone call from the Obama Presidential Campaign: 'In late 2007 — I want to say it was November — I was in the Project Vote office by myself, and I received a call on the main line. I answered the call, and a caller identified himself as being from the Obama campaign. And he wanted to know was this the same Project Vote that Obama had worked with in the 90's. I had been recently told that it was. So, of course, I said yes, and I was very excited. And I took his information. And I passed it on — well, I sent an e-mail to Karen Gillette, Nathan Henderson James, I want to say Kevin Whalen and Zach Polett — I think that was everyone I sent the e-mail to — letting them know we had been contacted and someone wanted them to get back to them as soon as possible...I didn't get any official contact that they contacted anyone. I was told that if there are any inquiries, that they had needed to go through either Kevin or Zach, mostly Kevin because he handled those type of things. I think that I probably shouldn't have written [that e-mail]. It was one of those things that I should have just called, and that was the feeling I got. But it wasn't like anyone was being mean to me, but it was the impression [Karen Gillette gave me]. I worked with the [Obama] donor list extensively...There were a ton of duplicates because a lot of people gave more than once...the list is huge...so in order to get the list smaller, we were trying to get out the duplicates. That was really hard to do. And it was just really getting frustrated because we were always trying to get numbers and other stuff for these people because I think we were going to set up some meetings for Zach [Polett] or something to do with it, and I know there also might have been a mailing that was going to go out...[ACORN] wanted to use it for donor solicitations...I went through [the Obama donor list] and broke it up by state. I broke out California donors. I also looked at celebrities and Hollywood people, professors, and I broke them into separate categories because there were people looking for a spokesperson. We talked about Barbara Streisand because her foundation gave money. We talked about Bruce Springsteen. So we were trying to see who on that list...we had contact information for that might want to work with us or at least give money to us. Karen Gillette instructed me to do that.' [pages 61-63]. Ms. Moncrief worked on the Obama list culling it for potential donors. She testified: 'I would go through the list...and I would break out smaller lists and sent that to Karen [Gillette]. And it was just donor cultivation. At that point, before I was fired, there was not a lot that we were doing with this. We were getting ready to do stuff. We had just ordered a ton of stationery and a lot of glossies. They were the ACORN glossies, and then we had the exact same glossies with Project Vote on them. And then we were going to send them out as solicitations.' [pages 63-64].

"Ms. Moncrief's interest in my lawsuit against ACORN for fraudulent voter registration activities was two-fold: to tell the whole story about ACORN's activities including the real story behind their voter registration activities, and second, to voluntarily put herself under oath so that the press would understand she was telling the truth and hopefully then the story would be reported. Ms. Moncrief testified: '[I am testifying] because I want the truth out. Honestly, a lot of people think I have a vendetta, but even after I left ACORN, I was still trying to be involved in the act because I believe that the local offices do a lot of good. Local offices where the people are involved and you see them every day and you're there — like, when I worked in the D.C. office, you would — you'd stumble over some member, and there was just this type of informal environment. And that's where a lot of the work was done. So I don't think ACORN is a bad organization. I feel like they have gotten into a lot of areas that was not — that they weren't meant to be in. And because we're in these other areas, we're losing focus of what's really wrong with these communities. There's so much that needs to be done, and we're over here when we should be right there. So that's why I'm here, because I don't want ACORN to go away, I just want it to go back to what its supposed to be.' [pages 79-80]."

"Ms. Moncrief testified that in October of 2005 she began working for Project Vote, a 501(c)(3) educational and charitable organization, as a development associate. [page 18, line 11] [page 102, line 11-13]: 'Project Vote is a 501(c)(3) voter registration group. They do voter registration, election administration and voter protection.' Ms. Moncrief testified that Project Vote obtained donor lists with names, addresses and amounts of contributions. The lists were provided to ACORN from political parties, campaigns, and organizations that did the same type of work as ACORN such as ACT [America Coming Together]. In particular, Project Vote received donor lists from the John Kerry Campaign, the Bill Clinton Campaign, and the Barack Obama Campaign. The Obama Campaign sent their donor list to Project Vote, around late 2007. [page 40-41, lines 7-25, and 1-5]. Ms Moncrief testified: 'I know that I got the DNC list and the Kerry list around the same time, so I want to put that at October of 2007...and I think the Obama list came in, in late 2007, maybe November...It was passed on to me by Karen Gillette...It was forwarded to me and with the understanding that it had come from the campaign...I was to take out all the duplicates and get the list together for donor solicitations. We were breaking it down like California, D.C., New York, like that. We were also looking for telephone numbers as well.' Ms. Moncrief was to reach out to these Obama contributors who had maxed out to the presidential campaign and who could then give additional money to ACORN to do GET OUT THE VOTE work. [page 41, line 19]. Ms. Moncrief testified: 'Yes. That was part of the plan...That was our development plan written by Karen Gillette, that we were to approach maxed out presidential donors.' [pages 41- 42, lines1-25, and 1-2]. The money from the 'maxed out presidential donors' was allegedly to be used for 'voter registration' drives. Further, 'when I left [Project Vote] the $28 million budget was approaching 30 something million.' [page 42, lines 8-12].

"She testified that she '...learned that there wasn't much of a difference between ACORN and Project Vote. [page 18, l. 18]: 'Project Vote is a sister organization of ACORN. When I got there, I actually thought I was working for ACORN because that was the only thing I heard about during the interview. But when I got there, I realized that I was working for Project Vote, and they explained to me the difference between the two organizations. But as I was there, I learned that there wasn't much of a difference...I had an ACORN e-mail address up until...2007. I was considered to be part of the ACORN political operations staff, and I was actually a part of the strategic writing and research department with the acronym SWORD, which was basically an internal consulting department for ACORN political operations. So a lot of the work I did ...and answering some voter fraud allegations that came from 2004, were actually all ACORN work. It wasn't until...late 2006 that I actually began doing actual development work for Project Vote.' She further testified, [ page 22, line 9] in regard to the difference between ACORN and Project Vote: 'Honestly, there really isn't a difference between Project Vote and ACORN except for the fact that one is a 501(c)(3) and one is not a (c)(3). As far as the — who does the voter registration work and how things get done...Project Vote is basically considered ACORN political operations.' Ms. Moncrief testified: [page 44, line 1-25] 'There was active cooperation between ACORN's political wing and Project Vote...[They] basically had the same staff. Nathan Henderson James was the strategic writing and research department...director of ACORN and he was the research director of Project Vote. Zach [Polett] was the executive director of Project Vote and the executive director of ACORN political. All of the organizations and the entities worked together. We shared the same space.' Further, Ms. Moncrief testified: '...there's no real separation between the organizations for real. So when you have the same people that are working, that are — like, I was getting paid through Project Vote's checkbook, but I was working on ACORN stuff. I even did PowerPoints during the midterm elections for Jeffrey Robinson where they were like, okay, don't vote for Albert Win (ph) or vote for this person. And they had doorknob — door hangers that they would go and put on people's doors, and we turned this into a PowerPoint presentation. So there was never any division between the staff where you would say, okay, this is (c)(3) stuff and this (c)(4) stuff. It was just — I don't want to say business as usual, but it was a lot of collaboration between the organizations.' [page 89, lines 21-25, page 90 1-25, page 91, lines 1-3]."

Ms. MonCrief is a young African-American single mother. Her idealism and courage are not news to me.

Neither is Ms. Heidelbaugh's case against ACORN, tried and decided before Election Day 2008 and reported in Ms. Heidelbaugh's testimony.

What ARE very newsworthy, but not yet much known, are the pre-Election Day 2008 relationship between Ms. MonCrief and The New York Times and the shameless, but skillful, way The New York Times managed its ACORN coverage to protect Obama by concealing important facts from the voters.

In an article announcing Ms. Heidelbaugh's testimony, Washington Times reported: "The accusations, which are based entirely on sworn court testimony late last year by ACORN whistleblower Anita Moncrief, range from unlawfully coordinating campaign activity with Mr. Obama's presidential campaign to deliberately engaging in voter-registration fraud and misusing federal grant money."

WRONG! There is much more that Ms. MonCrief's sworn testimony that supports those "accusations" and The New York Times knows it.

© Michael Gaynor


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Michael Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member... (more)


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