May 05, 2009

Bachmann Gloats...and Slimes

One of the joys of being on Twitter is being able to do things like follow Michele Bachmann. (Yes, I really do follow her. No, not for the joy. So you don't have to.) I get to find out where she'll be making her public appearances and characteristically wrong statements. I also get to find out when she's posted something new to her blog at Townhall.

Today, it's about the charges against ACORN.

My amendment would keep organizations that are under indictment for voter fraud or other criminal activities, or that employ people indicted for such crimes, from accessing billions of your tax dollars. Groups such as ACORN are repeatedly charged with violating the law and the public trust, yet they continue to access taxpayer funds. The threshold for gaining taxpayer funding should not be so low.

Interestingly, the Associated Press reported Monday that Nevada authorities filed criminal charges against ACORN and two former employees for voter registration fraud.

This is fascinating in that it both gets things more right than Bachmann usually does (not that she writes her own blog) and is stupendously misleading at the same time. Note that in the top paragraph, she refers to "voter fraud," and in the bottom, it's "voter registration fraud." Adam Serwer at Tapped explains why the difference is important.

Interestingly enough, included in Miller's statement is an explanation that registration fraud, which includes filling out registration forms with false names is distinct from voter fraud, in which individuals cast fraudulent ballots.

It’s important to keep in mind that this was a case of registration fraud, not voter fraud. ... The investigation and subsequent charges that have now been filed demonstrate the effectiveness of the safeguards in our system designed to prevent voter fraud. I’ve been clear from the outset of my administration that we would be aggressive in our pursuit and prosecution of any fraudulent activity that might threaten the integrity of our electoral process. This investigation is the direct result of our aggressive response to those safeguards.

That's the Nevada Secretary of State making it clear that ACORN has been charged under a state statute about paying incentives for registering a targeted number of voters. The distinction is even more clear in the NY Times article on the charges.

So Bachmann can make the distinction. Unexpected, but so what? Well, the fact that she can tell the difference makes her reference to her amendment rather slimy. This is the amendment she offered to the Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act, and if she knows the difference between voter fraud and voter registration fraud, why does she think her amendment will have anything to do with ACORN?

(e) Limitation on Distribution of Assistance-

(1) IN GENERAL- None of the amounts made available under this section shall be distributed to--

(A) any organization which has been indicted for a violation under Federal law relating to an election for Federal office; or

(B) any organization which employs applicable individuals.

(2) DEFINITION OF APPLICABLE INDIVIDUAL- In this subparagraph, the term ‘applicable individual’ means an individual who--

(A) is--

(i) employed by the organization in a permanent or temporary capacity;

(ii) contracted or retained by the organization; or

(iii) acting on behalf of, or with the express or apparent authority of, the organization; and

(B) has been indicted for a violation under Federal law relating to an election for Federal office.
The emphasis is mine. Bachmann's amendment has absolutely nothing to say about the situation ACORN finds itself in, and her blog post contains all the information she requires to know that's true. So why isn't she pointing that out to anyone?

As an aside, just a couple of quick notes about the charges. Ben Smith at Politico has this statement from an ACORN spokesperson.

This recent attack by the Nevada Secretary of State and Attorney General is the latest in an ongoing assault designed to blame the victim and prioritize media grandstanding above the pursuit of justice.

From the time ACORN first suspected that some of its employees had tried to defraud ACORN by turning in bogus forms, ACORN repeatedly called its suspicions to the attention of election officials and requested that they investigate immediately.

Our policy all along has been to pay workers at an hourly rate and to not pay employees based on any bonus or incentive program. When it was discovered that an employee was offering bonuses linked to superior performance, that employee was ordered to stop immediately.

It is unfortunate that the Secretary of State can’t distinguish the victim from the villain.

This is consistent with what ACORN said about the raids in Nevada in November. It's also consistent with what they said about situations in other states before the elections. None of those other situations led to charges against ACORN, or they would be included here.

It will be interesting to see what comes of this. In the meantime, be aware of the sources of your news. Media Matters has documented a strong history of conservative news sites repeating lies about ACORN. That's to be expected, yes, but if you look at their report, you'll see those lies sometimes make their way into more mainstream markets.

Whatever you do, don't believe Michele Bachmann.


JLK said...

Have you been following Olbermann's coverage of Bachmann? She is routinely one of his 3 worst people in the world (her and Bill O'Reilly, of course).

Jason Thibeault said...

You seem like such a sane person, Stephanie... please don't expose yourself to such toxic levels of crazy for any length of time. While I'm sure the audience appreciates your self-sacrifice of following Bachmann, I don't think any sane person could make too many ventures into the radiation zone without some deleterious effects.

("Who's this Michelle Bachmann anyway?" "Uh, I dunno, mayor of Crazytown USA or something." "She was elected??" "Actually, a political coup. Involving rabid badgers.")

Stephanie Zvan said...

JLK, I can't watch them quite as often as he does them. There just isn't time. :)

Jason, there's very little hope for me. I also do the Replace Bachmann carnival. I do promise to stop at the first sign of Stockholm Syndrome, though.

And oh, how I wish we could blame badgers. I don't live that far from her district, and there's always that niggling temptation to head up there to shake someone and ask what they were thinking.

gregladen said...

Nobody's stopping until she's out of office!!!

Stephanie Zvan said...

Greg, soon? Having her following me back on Twitter is just weird.