What could go wrong having an organization whose members have been convicted of voter registration fraud be intimately involved in determining the distribution of tax dollars?  Judicial Watch: ACORN Used in 2010 Census

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has obtained documents from the U.S. Census Bureau detailing the substantial involvement of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) in the 2010 Census. Included among the 126 pages of documents, obtained by Judicial Watch under threat of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, is ACORN’s original Census partnership application. The document describes 18 different areas of responsibility requested by the community organization, which is under investigation in multiple states for illegal activity during the 2008 election, including voter registration fraud.

Weren’t we assured that ACORN wasn’t going to be involved in the counting process?

In its official statement responding to the ACORN controversy, the Obama Commerce Department downplayed ACORN’s participation in the Census, and labeled “baseless” the notion that ACORN would be involved in any Census count. However, the Census Bureau offered ACORN the opportunity to “recruit Census workers” who would participate in the count. Moreover, as an “executive level” partner, ACORN has the ability to “organize and/or serve as a member on a Complete Count Committee,” which, according to Census documents, helps “develop and implement locally based outreach and recruitment campaigns.”

According to its application ACORN also signed up to: “Encourage employees and constituents to complete and mail their questionnaire; identify job candidates and/or distribute and display recruiting materials; appoint a liaison to work with the Census Bureau; provide space for Be Counted sites and/or Questionnaire Assistance Centers; sponsor community events to promote participation in the 2010 Census,” among 18 requested areas of responsibility. The documents also show the decision to add ACORN as a partner occurred in February, long after the January 15th Census partnership application deadline. (One Census official had bet “it was under Bush.”)

Other than that, they’re completely hands-off.

Other fun facts:

# The Census Bureau requested that ACORN “help us highlight [ACORN’s] innovation and hard work and share best practices so other organizations can learn from your experiences.”

# Members of the Census Bureau and Department of Commerce staff assigned to organize the 2010 Census were unaware of when the decision to involve ACORN was made, how the Census Bureau choose and defined partners, or whether partners received payment.

# The Census Bureau did not conduct background checks on the 3.7 million people hired to conduct the 2000 Census, unless a preliminary name check provided a match. Overall, 8% of the applicants, or over 300,000 people, were considered risks for hire.

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