It’s almost as if the 2008 presidential campaign never ended: The community organizing group known as ACORN continues to find itself in legal jeopardy and the Republican Party continues to spend an inordinate amount of time obsessing about it.
Six months after an election where the controversial liberal group became a partisan lightning rod, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now remains a prominent GOP target, a subject of intense, feverish pursuit seemingly out of proportion with the return on political investment.
By MICHAEL FALCONE
Consider the past week alone.
In the House, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) and other GOP lawmakers called on the Census Bureau to sever ties with ACORN, one of several hundred organizations teaming up with the bureau to conduct the crucial Census count in 2010.
At the same time, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.), one of ACORN’s most vocal opponents in Congress, tangled with Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) over an “ACORN amendment” she introduced that would have prohibited any organization indicted for voter fraud from receiving certain federal housing grants.
In the Senate, Republican David Vitter of Louisiana introduced his own amendment that sought to prohibit ACORN from receiving federal volunteer funds through the National Service Act. The Senate rejected it on Thursday.
Outside the legislative arena, Republicans also zeroed in on ACORN.
The Republican National Committee splashed on its home page a story about voter registration charges filed against ACORN in Nevada. The Florida GOP produced a YouTube video aimed at freshman Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson that shows a member of Grayson’s staff calling him the “Congressman from ACORN.”
On Friday, Americans for Limited Government, a conservative group, targeted several vulnerable Democratic freshmen by issuing individualized press releases slamming them for voting to fund “criminal enterprise ACORN.”
The list goes on and on.
At the heart of the GOP’s grievance is the belief that ACORN is a shady liberal front group that regularly engages in fraudulent voter registration activity or outright voter fraud. John McCain suggested as much in one of his debates with Barack Obama when he referred to ACORN by name and accused Obama of not fully explaining his association with the group.
“This could violate the most fundamental aspect of democracy and that is a free and fair election,” McCain said at the debate last October.
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