Ohio Secretary of State Linked to ACORN, Project Vote

The national development director for Project Vote, an affiliated organization of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, has been linked to embattled Ohio Secretary of State, Democrat Jennifer Brunner. Karyn Gillette of Project Vote was a campaign consultant for the Brunner campaign, according to information found in a post made by Rick Brunner on April 11, 2006 on the secretary of state’s own blog.

“Our candidate had gone earlier in the day to have some meetings and work out of Karyn Gillette’s office, but when your correspondent arrived in his S-10 pickup truck, our staff person, Lauren, drove that back to Columbus, while we continued on to dinner with Craig Bashiene and John Lancione. We were accompanied by our consultant, Karyn Gillette. Karyn and her business partner, Mary Grace, have been very helpful to the campaign.”

The links between Gillette and Brunner do not end there.

According to a court filing in Ohio alleging ACORN violated state Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) law, “Project Vote, regularly advises Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner (hereinafter “Secretary Brunner”) on election strategy, and recently issuing a news release claiming credit for Secretary Brunner’s directive restricting challenges to suspected unlawful voter registrations.”

Maurice Thompson, the attorney handling the Ohio RICO action, told me late yesterday, “Evidence of collusion amongst ACORN, Project Vote, the Obama Campaign and Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner comes as no surprise to us — these supposedly separate entities appear to have been comingling funds, trading political tips, and helping each other gain power for years now. Those who think this is merely a complex transactional matter should think again — these shell games are being played with taxpayer dollars and have a corrupting influence on our elections.”

Gillette’s problems do not end there.

In testimony Wednesday in the lawsuit brought by the Pennsylvania GOP against Project Vote, former D.C. ACORN staffer Anita Moncrief stated under oath that in November 2007, in ACORN’s D.C. offices, Gillette gave Moncrief an Excel file of donors Gillette said she had gotten from the Obama campaign, told Moncrief to de-dupe the file and identify the campaign’s maxed-out donors to call for “get out the vote” contributions. Attorney Heather Heidelbaugh told me in an interview yesterday, “… before we started the hearing, ACORN’s attorney, Catherine Simpson — again before we started the hearing — said one of her witnesses was going to be Karyn Gillette, Anita’s supervisor. After Anita said on the stand that Obama’s campaign contacted Karyn Gillette — Karyn Gillette was gone. She wasn’t in the courtroom. She wasn’t put up on the stand. Why? Because I would have asked her and she would have been under oath and she would have had to answer.”

Heidelbaugh also asked the court to order ACORN not to destroy evidence. “Anita testified on the stand that they were destroying evidence pursuant to other legal matters that they had,” she said.

Unraveling this massive organization’s activities will take a Herculean effort.

According to written testimony of James Terry of the Consumer Rights League, a group that acts as an ACORN watchdog, to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution last month, “ACORN’s massive enterprise includes as many as 150 subsidiary organizations, according to a recent legal filing by members of its board of directors. The list includes two affiliated labor union locals, TV and radio broadcast operations, immense housing counseling operations, and a number of lobbying and political entities. In all, ACORN’s total operation this year has an estimated budget of $110 million. That’s big business.”

The Congressional testimony goes on to address juggling of funds and blame between entities to cause confusion and affirms, “… the non-profit organization known as Project Vote and the political operative organization known as Citizens Services Inc. are wholly owned subsidiaries of the ACORN web of organizations. There should be no distinction between crimes or alleged crimes perpetrated by personnel from Project Vote and those from ACORN.”

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