ACORN Official Says Conservative Media, McCain Campaign Involved in Voting Suppression Effort

By Matt Cover | October 23, 2008 | 6:52 PM EDT

Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain gives the thumbs up sign after speaking at a rally, Oct. 22, 2008, at Lunken Airport in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

( – The conservative media and the McCain campaign are involved in a voter suppression effort, according to a top official with the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).
“There is an orchestrated campaign – coming from the right – that is ultimately about voter suppression,” ACORN spokesman Brian Kettering said in an interview. “We know that conservative media – and CNS is probably one of them – conservative organizations and the McCain campaign are running a concerted, coordinated effort,” Kettering said.
“One of its key strategies is to attack and de-legitimize the work of ACORN,” he said.

The Associated Press reported last week that the "FBI is investigating whether the community activist group ACORN helped foster voter registration fraud around the nation before the presidential election."
“We’re not saying that the FBI is involved in voter intimidation,” Kettering said. “The intent of the campaign is to draw law enforcement into the fight.”
When asked Kettering whether conservatives had succeeded in drawing in the FBI, he answered, “Absolutely.”

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama smiles as he gets on his campaign charter at the airport in Indianapolis, Ind., Oct. 23, 2008. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

In an Oct. 18 statement, ACORN said the investigation was a partisan attempt to “taint” the election and undermine both its efforts and the Obama campaign.
“This is a right-wing attempt to set the stage for a massive voter suppression operation,” the statement read. It also characterized the FBI investigation as a “nakedly partisan attempt to taint the election, ACORN, and the candidacy of Barack Obama.”
In an Oct. 16 letter to Attorney General Michael Mukasey and FBI Director Robert Mueller, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) claimed that the FBI had leaked the existence of the investigation, calling it inappropriate and saying it was suspicious, given the Justice Department’s history of political involvement.
“There is extensive evidence that political operatives improperly pressured United States Attorneys to investigate and prosecute spurious claims of voter fraud,” Conyers said. “Thus, one must view the timing of this leak with added suspicion.”
Kettering echoed these claims, saying there was a clear history of past, politically driven investigations at the Justice Department and that the FBI’s current investigations resembled them.
“In the very recent past we’ve seen partisan political behavior on the part of the Justice Department,” he said. “That’s the context in which the FBI is investigating.”
When asked whether the current investigations resembled past, politically charged investigations, Kettering said, “Absolutely yes, we know that’s what happened in the past.”
The McCain campaign did not return calls before press time.