Skip to main content

tv   Today in Washington  CSPAN  December 2, 2009 2:00am-6:00am EST

2:00 am
roles, you have all lot more people who are tired. i am encouraged that you would get these done as soon as you possibly can so that we have something that a scientifically based. i want to bring up three things that occurred to me as a frequent traveler on airplanes. i have done a lot of these short lead trips on continental planes which were very similar to that crash that occurred in buffalo. there are a couple of things. one is that i see people who are now committing to their work -- commuting to their word. it concerns me that we're talking about being well rested at the start of the plight -- the plight.
2:01 am
but to be well rested when the flight begins. how important is it that the crew members spend the night before they start on their leg in their home bed? . from tampa to buffalo to go to work. then they will actually start flying when they get to buffalo or get to atlanta at. i experienced this all the time in talking to crewmembers how many people do not live in atlanta. there are lots of crewmembers that flight to atlanta to go to work. will this be addressed? i would like to discuss that. the second thing i would like to have comments on is what availability for sleeping rooms are there for pilots? how good our this week brunn's? is this something that is being
2:02 am
discussed, providing a place discussed, providing a place where playlists -- provided a place where pilots can get a good rest? the third thing is, who is in charge? my sense is that the pilot is in charge. are there supervisors that are at the airports that are looking over the pilots before they get on the plane and say, he is too tired he just came in from hong kong. i do not think he can go on the flight. is there a chain of command that put someone in charge at the airports to make these decisions? >> thank you. on the issue of commuting, we
2:03 am
recommended that the pilot be required to report to work 64 duty. that is consistent with our regulations at this point. -- sick for duty. this is an area we are looking at to see if there are additional requirements we want to include in that particular area. that is something that will be addressed and we will ask for comments on the proposal. on the issue of sleeping rooms, there are a number of a major cargo carriers that provide rooms, a temperature controlled quiet rooms for pilots to sleep. one of the recommendations was to give consideration to that kind of rest, to perhaps add additional time to the duty day. we will look at proposals in that area and asked for comments on that as well.
2:04 am
for the flights where we have augmented crew, there are sleeping facilities on board the aircraft. ko'd it was recommended that a high year-end facilities be given more credit -- it was recommended that the higher-end facilities be given more credit. we are looking at all of these issues. >> what about supervision? >> the regulations will likely propose that both operator and the pilot will have responsibility so the rule would save the operator may not allowed in theand the pilot
2:05 am
not accept. >> capt. cratain prater. >> i think we need to understand commuting is a fact of life. whether i am driving to richmond to d.c. that might take me three hours, i am commuting to work. i am starting my day ahead. it comes down to the professional responsibility of what do i have ahead of me that day? if i of clients and easy triple -- if i am flying an easy tripl, i will fly up that morning. if i am flying overnight, i will come of the night before and get
2:06 am
some rest during the day. those are facts of the light but we live in now. you have to know your schedule. it is more difficult for reserve pilots. most are within two to three hours of their duty station. it can easily take three hours to get there. you have to plan ahead. i do not see it as a problem. the first officer committed from seattle to add new wornewark tor trip, but what should have been pointed out is she should have floated the night before. it is not just commuting, at the overall issue of how the flight time duty rules work. it was in charge? i think it starts and ends with the captain, but the carrier does have responsibility.
2:07 am
the carrier has a responsibility to accept my word and they will not fire me or discipline me if i say i am too tired to go on. we call this pilot pushing. if the airplane doesn't go, the revenue sits on the tarmac. if they do not have enough pilots because they have cut back, the trip is canceled. those economic pressures live every day. we have to fight them. the last one is the sleeper roomp rooms is mostly an adequa. take up the tube. -- thank you. -- the sleep rooms are mostly inadequate. >> i appreciate ms. killiagilli
2:08 am
saying that their rules will get done. i have talked to the director and secretary lahood and they are out for public comment. i wanted thank you for pushing on these and encourage you to do this as quickly as possible. one of the things to follow of up on is the changing culture. i think their roles are something like a half century old. it does not reflect new technologies, new ways of living and new information that we have about fatigue. one of the things i have been focused on is that flights are regionals get the rule seems to
2:09 am
be different with regionals than the national flights. i know some of the large carriers reimburse pilots for costs of taking it sleep between ships. two regional carriers do the same thing -- two regional carriers do the same thing? >> i would say most carriers do not provide for the reimbursements of expenses of coming to work to be well rested. they do not pay for hotel rooms where you start and enjoy a trip. part of the problem is that the system does not provide for a mechanism to provide the pilot with a decent salary because we have a marketplace system that we have had over 160 failures of
2:10 am
airlines. regional carrier, what does that mean? they fly from canada to mexico. these are airliners. we need to get away from pigeonholing them. >> arguably the regional pilots, as some of them are flying shorter flights. this involves more takeoffs and landings and they are doing more during that time. i am wondering, should we take that into account? >> we should certainly take that into account. it is interesting that that area has had probably the least amount of research done to it. a lot havs been done on time soe
2:11 am
ships. this is a critical area we need to take into account. their roles that were described will take this up and down factor into account. >> what do we do about learning from what other countries have done? is this in the works? this controlled napping idf? -- idea? >> we are supporting that and the foundation since 1994. that is when the first airline started doing this sort of control snapping. it is found to be a very effective countermeasure. it has proven to be a very safe procedure. it has been adopted in many
2:12 am
countries around the world. >> i will follow up on the questions of reimbursement, the idea of more stress on pilots. also the idea of the controlled napping. >> we did recommend that we consider the time of day when the pilots begin their schedules as well as the number of operations or segments they will fly as part of the scale of how many hours of duty time and flight time they should be permitted. park did not agree on how many hours of flight time -- the arc did not agree on how many hours of flight time that would allow. we are in the process of analyzing this. the framework will take into account the time of day. if you have a number of
2:13 am
takeoffs and landings, that may reduce the number of hours. we will seek comment on all of that. on the issue of control dress, we have not issued standards for that. we have not propose to permit that. at this point, i do not expect we will be proposing that. we do believe the crude needs to come to work prepared for the schedule -- we do believe the crew needs to come to work prepared for the schedule. >> thank you. >> center snow. -- senator snowe.
2:14 am
>> this has been on the national transportation safety board most-wanted list for a long time. this is an issue that deserves immediate attention. to follow up on the question that the senator made, and many other regional airlines have pilots that commute long distance. one of the regional carriers that has a quarter of the crew that commute more than 1,000 miles. how are you pass during this into the rulemaking? -- how are you factoring this and to the rulemaking? >> that is an issue that the aviation rulemaking committee did not recommend that we make changes. they recommend that we continue to see that as a pilot
2:15 am
responsibility. we are considering whether there are additional elements that we can or should regulate, and that may be part of our proposal. we have no@@@@@@@ @ @ g;::g=@ @ we have not yet completed that part of our analysis. either way will be asking for comment on whether there is additional regulatory requirements should be put in place as it may affect them. >> how to use the the faa addressing this question now if at all? do you see it is essential to addressing this issue? >> if anything, i believe that it is a personal responsibility thrust upon you by the circumstances. you could live in your base and the next day it is closed and you are expected to fly out of
2:16 am
new york instead of cincinnati. you have three kids in school. you just cannot do it overnight. se changes in one year. you cannot move. it is not a whole lot different than many jobs in our society, except on the other end of it, we have to be in command of the cockpit. it does start with personal responsibility. the carrier must insure that the pilot is able to get to work with the least amount of hassle. it is no different from flying from st. louis to washington, d.c., to begin your work week here. it should not take you eight or 10 hours to fly. there are things that can be done, but i believe it will be done more in the collective of bargaining irina where we come up with a solution from our employers. >> the think operator and pilot
2:17 am
-- do you think the operator and the pilot can make the decision about whether they are too tired to make the trip? obviously they need the pilot. it seems to me they would be most likely. >> it comes down to our physical that we take every six months. we have to determine if we are it to apply that day. it does not matter if i have a call or cold or did not sleep last night because the baby was crying all night. i have to make that decision. all we ask is the protection of the employer. it should be accepted when a pilot calls into said there are
2:18 am
too tired to make that flight. >> on another issue, i happen to run into an airline pilot last week, for a legacy carrier. he was very much concerned about the lack of experience is in pilots and copilots on the regional aircraft. the requirement is 300 hours of flight time, compared to what he had at 3000. he was asked for some tips and the co-pilot was not even familiar with the issues that they were discussing. he described it as scary. i was wondering if i could have your views on that. if you could combine the fatigue and lack of experience -- can
2:19 am
you address this? >> we are fully supportive of hr3371, and hoped the senate will pick that up in the near future. it does raise the experience before they can become a pilot and service of carrying passengers. first of all, let me say, i believe we are one of the most critical professions on ourselves. you never have enough experience. the senior captain sharing in discussing issues with the crew is not a bad swing. two years ago our economy is was going in such a way that pilots were being hired bright at the flight school. it did show a crack. it takes a lot more training at the airline level.
2:20 am
again, training is expensive. many airlines like to cut costs said every corner they can. we need to expand some of the training requirements, and much of that is covered in the house legislation. >> thank you. >> let me talk about the question of when. the fact is, this issue has been around, the ntsb has had this on the most-wanted list for many years. i appreciate the fact that you have started the process, but it is much more important that you and the process. -- it is much more important that you end of the process. you indicated that the time is now sliding, not unusual twist federal agencies, but disappointing giving the circumstances we now face.
2:21 am
give me your best judgment about when those of us who are waiting for these recommendations and the implementation of new rules and regulations dealing with fatigue -- when we can expect action. ticket the administrator is completely -- >> the administrator is completely dedicated to completing the process. he is also dedicated to getting it right. this is an area in which he is knowledgeable given his own experience as a pilot. we have presented to him the framework that the aviation rulemaking committee provided and the kind of details that we have to analyze. he has agreed that we need additional time in order to make sure we get it right. we have committed to him to have the analysis completed by the end of january, a month later than we had hoped to complete it. it will then go into the final
2:22 am
review. we have commitment from the secretary to keep the review as short as we can keep it, and we will work with office of management and budget as well. i can assure you state administrator is completely committed to getting this out as quickly as we can. >> thank you for the answer, but you have just described as they, omb, dot -- all agencies that will have to take a reasonably and expeditious action to get something in place. i have had too much experience with omb and dot to believe this works very well. because i referred to incidents in the 1990's and have referred to 19 years of being on the most-wanted list, we are out of
2:23 am
patience. you are saying one month. i assume that when the faa decided to embark on this and set a deadline, it said a deadline based on the judgment of doing it the right way. now you are saying you need more time to do with the right way. >> the arc gave us a good framework but not all of the specifics that need to be included in their role in need to be fully analyze so we can present those for comment. i think the members would acknowledge they did not get that specific recommendation, given the time limits, as well as talk complicated and difficult these issues are. -- as well as how difficult and complicated these issues are. this requires additional time. >> i do not disagree.
2:24 am
they are complicated, i understand all of that. when i started today by citing the number of people who lost their lives and the last 20 years or so because of accidents related to fatigue, and then understanding that we have this issue of fatigue in front of us and cannot come to closure, what i am going to do is -- i will certainly ask the administrator next week in some detail, but i am going to write an official letter, and i assume my colleagues will join me on it, month after month to find out when this will happen, who has it now? we need to move on this. we just need to get it done. it is complicated, but it is not like sending a person to the moon. we can certainly figure out what we need to do to address what has been called a die your problem.
2:25 am
-- what has been called a dire problem. my colleagues talk about commuting. i do not know what we should do about this, but i do not think we should ignore it. you just indicated the process will ignore commuting. someone that flew all night long from seattle to washington to finally get to a duty station and then to hang around the lounge for a couple of hours, based on what we know comment that is not the pilot that is well rested. putting pilots and copilots that dhad never trained on this. in it is unbelievable to me. -- it is unbelievable to me.
2:26 am
the piece that we can understand is fatigued, if nothing else, and tried to move expeditiously as we can to address it. i want to ask a couple of other questions. this issue at snappine of nappii understand why someone might suggest that as an alternative, and perhaps some carriers overseas use it, but i also understand the captain's notions about this. i have flown their planes very minimally. very few hours. i understand in the cockpit, if you are napping and a bell or whistle goes off, you did not wake up knowing that actions to take.
2:27 am
you are drowsy. i do not understand the issue of solving of fatigue issue by napping. >> i am glad to elaborate. we do not view this as the silver bullet for fatigue. it is one of the many tools in the toolbox. airlines would not a build schedules that incorporate napping as a requirement to complete a trip. it is a way to manage fatigue as it rises on a real-time basis. we think it is a smarter approach, managing the napping process, then allowing things to of all the way they have previously where you run their risk of both pilots falling asleep. we think there is a way to do it. we believe nasa has done an adequate research into this.
2:28 am
it is one of the many tools that gets factored into the new equation. that is the duty -- you tbeautyf this new tool box. >> there is layers that have to be applied. the first layer is to make their roles better in the first place so that people show up to work and have the opportunity to show up rested. lastly, in the event that's all of our best efforts are spoiled by the reality at the world and somebody needs to take a rest, you put one last layer of defense and and they have a control procedure where they can
2:29 am
obtain it rest. >> i think i address this adequately. again, you could not prevent and asked if the pilot is that a tired, but it has to be a last- fisheditch effort. the trick we used to use was five minutes before landing to bite into a fresh cut lemon to give you such a jolt that you will wake up and be able to apply. that is pushing the human body way too far. we do not need that. >> >> the chairman's questions
2:30 am
about when the report might be done or questions that i was going to talk about as well, but i think that ground has been covered. the thing that i would suggest is when you talk to the chairman, one of the things -- another part is to make sure the towers are placed positional id. -- kennedy airport 37 full- time, 24 there in 15 trainees.
2:31 am
and so it goes. including the staffing levels right now. the other thing, do you think $20,000 per year is an acceptable salary for someone who has the responsibility of the pilot? >> what i would say is that seniority is king in the airline industry. what that means is that salary is negotiated between a union and the company. it generally favors the more senior pilots. " we're talking about is -- what we're talking about is a pay scale that starts fairly low and ends fairly high. there are ways to level that out.
2:32 am
that is a negotiated element of the pilot's life style. it is an issue that has certainly been at the forefront of many of the discussions, but it is an element that is negotiated between the element -- the airline and the union. >> i know that. i do not mean to be impatient, but the simple question is whether or not someone making $20,000 per year, particularly those that have to commute distances, -- the question is, whether or not with the
2:33 am
responsibility that is inherited in the job, whether $20,000 is a decent salary because many times there will be a second job of that these people have to take in order to keep their heads above water. that plays a terrific role in establishing stress or fatigue. it is an invasion of good sensibility. >> what i would offer is airlines are subject to the requirement about whether they are commuter airlines or mainline commuters -- there is one set of recommendations. airlines prepare pilots to operate the equipment they are flying. it is in respect of of the amounts of money that the pilot gets paid. >> you said security dictates.
2:34 am
-- seniority dictates. the building i live in is right by the hudson river. it is at a height where the pilot's head to head for a lower altitude. the pilot for u.s. airways flight 1549, said in a hearing that his pay has been cut 40% in recent years. he started a consulting business to maintain a standard of living. this was a guy with a terrific experience and of is the great skills. -- and obviously great skills.
2:35 am
i think we're at a point in time where we have to say there are certain standards that must be met. i do not know how to implement them. that is not my job. my job is to make sure what ever we do we have safety of the public protected to what ever extent we can possibly do it. we have all admitted that the safety record is pretty good, but there are possibilities that are relatively high risk that we should avoid. when we are looking at salaries and when we look at what is happening in their regional versus the majors, regionals are doing pretty well in terms of profitability. skywest made 230 billion.
2:36 am
american eagle made 122 million. -- sky west made 200 million. what is to say they should exert themselves a little bit in terms of trying to attract the best that they can get, and once they get them, to keep them alert and satisfied with their job and paying attention to the minute details that they have to? now at a time when jobs are too few, it's simply cannot be left to negotiation, i do not think, between the union and the company because people want to work. their willingness to work has to be accompanied by being alert and as in command as they can
2:37 am
be. do you agree? >> i certainly agree. >> there was a silence that i heard. >> what i will say is that the industry has taken a beating since september. it has impacted every employee in the industry, not just pilots. you mentioned a few airlines posting profits. what i will say is that the industry as a whole continues to lose billions of dollars each year. i would be hesitant to view a couple of data points that show up in the black as an indication that the industry is performing well. >> a commodity like air travel -- they have to be able to look back at where we were in our
2:38 am
history and say just because you can raise money to start new airlines does not mean that you should be in the industry when we are paying for the whole infrastructure. we're not going to have time or the ability right now to examine that question in its entirety, but it is something that should be examined. thank you very much to all of you. very interesting testimony. thank you. >> let me ask a question -- let's assume that your recommendations are done. omb says we will work on this quickly and move it out. dot says we see this and we
2:39 am
intend to get things turned around quickly. all the sudden we have the process complete. now turn just for a moment to a circumstance that has brought us to do more work in this area, the crash. the pilot flew from seattle to memphis and then from guardia and the pilot flew from florida to la guardia. there is no evidence of either of them having a code hotel room -- there is no evidence of either of them having a hotel room for a rest. there is evidence that one of the pilots was doing e-mails for most part of the night. it appears to me that the pilot
2:40 am
not knowing how to use the equipment -- it is entirely possible that a portion of what caused the crash was fatigue. assuming that everything you are doing is done and we are ready to announce significant progress for the first time in many years, how would it have affected the circumstances of the pilot and co-pilot i have just described? both of whom flew across the country without any evidence of having breast prior to the plight on the regional carrier. -- of havigng rest prior to the piflight on the regional
2:41 am
carrier. >> at the end of the day, the pilots will have to take responsibility for ensuring that they take advantage of their best opportunity in a way that prepares them to report to work. they will always have the responsibility and the operator will have the responsibility to determine that the crew member is prepared to work at that time. the regulatory framework can only set just that, the framework that allows for the operator and the pilot to properly prepare themselves to provide safe transportation. >> i understand the responsibility of the pilot. that is the responsibility of a professional to himself or herself and responsibility to the passengers they are transporting. when i do not understand is when we finish this whole process, nothing will have changed with respect to the
2:42 am
circumstances that happened in the cockpit with respect to fatigue. if we have the chart that shows the colgan commutes. we know that something significant has changed with respect to air travel in this country. i will describe it this way regio-- in north dakota, where w up, the airlines that serve our capital city where republican, a regional charactarrier, but thed not flying small planes. all of them flew jets. my guess is that people in the cockpit, there was not someone
2:43 am
with any one of those carriers that was being paid the equivalent of today's 18,000 or $20,000 per year. it was not the case. what happened was our system worst into something different. those carriers merged emerged again and became much larger. they then created a network of regional carriers that flu smaller equipment -- that flew smaller equipment in timand hada different system framework. one of the other things that has happened, especially in the last couple of decades, we have worked into the system with a chart that shows that everyone is commuting everywhere.
2:44 am
it should not be lost on any of us, including the captain, you are a pilot, it should not be lost on us that this chart is demonstration of the significant potential problem. we have people whose workstation is on the east coast, flying from all over the country just to get to a station where they work. what you are saying and what others have said is it is their responsibility. let me ask obvious question, a cargo company was having problems attracting qualified pilots of the instituted at gateway travel program. it has been very successful. they pay cutin pilots to come to their duty station -- pay commuting pilots to come to their duty station. if you are going to have people living in seattle working at of
2:45 am
new york -- how do you make that work? my great concern is -- i am not suggesting that people should not commit, but i am suggesting that if you're going to have this kind of substantial commuting, you better understand that you will have problems related to its with respected fatigue unless the carriers and the pilots get there and have rest invited bed and get sleep in show up in the cockpit fully rested. that was not the case in this incident. i have read the transcripts. neither of those pilots -- i feel bad because they are not with us and able to defend themselves. it appears to me that neither had a night's sleep. when we are done with this issue, i do not think we would have altered the circumstances
2:46 am
that allowed that to exist. somehow, i think we must. area. it is an area we are looking at to see just how the federal government might address this and a regulatory framework. it can be difficult. people drive from fredericksburg to work in washington. that is a long drive that. that is not the same as flying. reno we do need to address this -- we know that we need to address this. we have not yet completely reached the conclusion. we agree with you, it is a risk factor that must be addressed by the airline and by the public. >> it seems to me, when would be a better time to do with them now when you are actually addressing fatigue in the cockpit?
2:47 am
my guess is you will want to say they have our right to commute wherever they want to commute from. do you believe there is no issue or no problem at all with the substantial commuting that has morphed into this regional carriers in the recent decades? >> i would not say there is not an issue. there is an issue. i gave you our commitment that we will continue to work with the faa and employers to find a solution to the problem. this is the reality. the reality is the work force has become very mobile. the fact is the companies keep moving the flying around. the regional carriers especially. they lose a contract and people who have lived in cincinnati for
2:48 am
20 years flying out of their home base now have to to you overnight. -- nwo have tow have to commute overnight. it is a mirror image of the program you identified. cargo operators do the same thing. fedex, they get their pilots to where they pick up their flight. it may be overseas. there are systems out there. we can do a better job insuring that the pilot show up ready to go. >> do you think the commuting is part of this? >> clearly commuting sets up a situation where things can go wrong. whee have seen some things go
2:49 am
wrong. i think what we have is a problem but a difficult problem to deal with and regulatory framework. clearly there has to be an obligation for the airline to provide the opportunity for rest. then they have to take the opportunity oup. the fatigue risk-management system we have talked about put sensors into operation. it tells you if you have a problem because of tired pilots or pearoorly-trained pilots. these are the type of things we need to do. that is why i am such a supporter of the data-driven approach that we can take in this industry. >> do you have a response?
2:50 am
>> i would reiterate that commuting is part of the commercial airline business today. we are much smarter today. we are getting smarter each day when it comes to fatigue management. i think we have a challenge before us and how to factor commuting into fatigued management. i think we recognize it is an issue and we're committed to resolving its. >> in some ways it is like looking at a picture and not seeing it. the three of you suggest that commuting is part of a problem, but you will give us something that does not address that. it seems to me that all of these things relate to the circumstances that we know cause additional risk.
2:51 am
from these hearings i have held -- i was on a regional carrier awhile back, and i happen to know from the series for that particular training that they didn', i felt it is an interestg carrier. my guess is that if you fly regionals, you might get on one some time and you know more about it than some others, and see people in the cockpit that have 200 hours and wonder if they are able to handle the planes as well as i am, speaking of yourself with all but the experience you have a. a lot of things have changed with respect to regionals. we need them. but we need to make sure we're dealing with the issues that relate to -- the issues that
2:52 am
have become self-evident to us in recent years. the issue of fatigue is not just a regional issue. i have not meant to hector you, but i do intend to in the future. [laughter] it is very important -- randby babit has a great deal of promise. he has spent a great amount of time in the air. i have high hopes for excellent work coming out of the faa, and that will include your work and many others. it is central that we consider these things urgent, based on what we now know, and it is essential that it be science- based, but it is essential after
2:53 am
all of these years that we get this done. i am going to be a burr under the saddle because we need to get this done. i appreciate we applaud a little bit longer, but i appreciate the fact that all four of you have come to testify. we have the administrator here next week. we will begin to reach a conclusion on some of these issues. i will write to the administrator, but i hope to talk at some length about commuting in addition to the other fatigue issues. let me thank you very much and this hearing is adjourned. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009]
2:54 am
>> up next on c-span, former
2:55 am
defense secretary discusses how u.s. foreign policy changed after the fall of the berlin wall at 9/11. and allegations of criminal activity by the group acorn. president obama announces plans to send more troops to afghanistan. on tomorrows "washington journal", we will talk about president obama's speech in afghanistan. the montana gov. will discuss tomorrow's meeting of the democratic governors association. in the get a directors documentary about the apollo 11 landing on the moon. >> this weekend on c-span2 "book
2:56 am
tv." soldiers of the iraq and afghanistan and a look and their experiences in war. on sunday, a live three our conversation with this offer. for an entire schedule, " to >> the former deputy defense secretary was speaking during the week. this is one hour and 15 minutes.
2:57 am
bob >> thanks for coming. we are discussing when the walls came down in berlin but. we want to remind you in introduced to some of you who may not been here yesterday, we want to look back at the aftermath of these cataclysmic events -- the fall of the wall 20 years ago in berlin and the 9/11 attacks in 2001. we want to examine how the united states plans for strategy in the wake of dramatic events and situations that is
2:58 am
facing complex and an uncertain world. we are trying to learn from these. how we can better deal with the complex world we face today as a country. we are delighted this morning to have an esteemed policy maker who is on our panel. he has served in many prominent positions in u.s. government. we do not have time to go through all of them this morning. we want to talk about where he was in 1991. related to post 9/11, here it is u.s. decca terry -- u.s. deputy
2:59 am
secretary of defense. we are going to kick off a recession -- he will make a couple of introductory remarks. we will start off by interviewing him and then turn the discussion open for q&a. this is a faculty associate here as well as a professor at the university of virginia in history. he is a superb scholar. he is a wonderful person.
3:00 am
please. >> you did not mention the job that was most fun which was in indonesia from 1986-1989. i have to get that out. but george schulz under reagan institute -- i am not sure of this has been revealed, but the wanted to get rid of political appointed ambassadors. .
3:01 am
3:02 am
3:03 am
3:04 am
3:05 am
3:06 am
3:07 am
3:08 am
3:09 am
3:10 am
3:11 am
3:12 am
3:13 am
3:14 am
3:15 am
3:16 am
3:17 am
3:18 am
3:19 am
3:20 am
3:21 am
3:22 am
3:23 am
3:24 am
3:25 am
3:26 am
3:27 am
3:28 am
3:29 am
3:30 am
3:31 am
3:32 am
3:33 am
3:34 am
3:35 am
3:36 am
3:37 am
3:38 am
3:39 am
3:40 am
3:41 am
3:42 am
3:43 am
3:44 am
3:45 am
3:46 am
3:47 am
3:48 am
3:49 am
3:50 am
3:51 am
3:52 am
3:53 am
3:54 am
3:55 am
3:56 am
3:57 am
3:58 am
3:59 am
4:00 am
4:01 am
4:02 am
4:03 am
4:04 am
4:05 am
4:06 am
4:07 am
4:08 am
4:09 am
4:10 am
4:11 am
4:12 am
4:13 am
4:14 am
acorn, and but the justice department's is that they can justiceacorn -- that they can pay acorn for contract started before the bill. >> i am going to recognize myself in an opening statement, and then others for opening
4:15 am
statements, and we will proceed and looking for the having the testimony of our witnesses shortly. we're here today to investigate the nature and extent of potential wrongdoing engaged in by the association of community organizations for reform now, otherwise no one -- known as acorn. for@@@@@@@@@ @ )k"@ @ @ rg! support of this forum. for years they have been the
4:16 am
subject of allegations of fraud, misconduct, and criminal activity. they have been investigated with voter registration fraud in over a dozen states, and charged with 50 different counts of election- related fraud. in addition, acorn is paid over $1 million in restitution to avoid criminal prostitutions and has admitted to submitting 400,000 false or fraudulent voter registrations for in the 2008 elections. the following is just a sample of the conduct acorn has engaged in. in 2008, it was uncovered that approximately $1 million was embezzled from a corn by the brother of its founder. they failed to report the theft until the theft was made public by the media. in louisiana, the attorney general believes the amount embezzled might be as high as $5
4:17 am
million. a seattle prosecutors indicted seven acorn workers for the worst voter registration fraud in washington state history. oddly nine were confirmed as bayou -- only nine were confirmed as valid, and 97% were fake. acorn employees fell -- pled guilty to election registration fraud there. one person was given crack cocaine in exchange for fraudulent registrations which included deceased individuals. one acorn employee was charged with perjury and identity theft. this summer, allegations against acorn reached prime time thanks to a now famous undercover video with short acorn employees
4:18 am
advising a pimp and prostitute, the undercover du loup, on trafficking girls for sex. they seemed all too willing to provide assistance on how best to avoid detection. but that is not all. the allegations against acorn continue to pour in. according to documents obtained by oversight staff, it appears that they directed an appellate the target republicans in the 2008 election. this type of political activity is a clear violation of the organization's non-profit status. with mountains of evidence, federal law-enforcement agencies can no longer ignore the shape the actions of acorn. because it appears to be organized and widespread, the fbi should look into whether this is a criminal enterprise. the president's close ties with acorn, dating back over 15 years, are of additional
4:19 am
concern. president obama previously served as acorn's lawyer, participated in acorn training programs in chicago, and sat on the boards of two organizations that provided funding to acorn's chicago chapter. just last year, his campaign misrepresented that it had paid more than 800,000 to an offshoot of acorn. the obama campaign initially said that they used this for polling. there really use the money for the same types of voter registration project that have mired acorn in criminal investigations in at least 12 states. the president's ties to acorn take any conclusion that the justice department may reach with regard to whether or not to investigate and prosecute acorn employees. that is why i requested date the attorney journal -- i have requested that the attorney general appoint a special prosecutor. congress also has an obligation
4:20 am
to investigate the apostle -- the possibly illegal conduct of acorn. acorn has received $53 million in federal funding. it is disappointing that that is a pat -- the democratic majority have taken no steps investigate the wrongdoing, even though the majority of the senator -- of congress people have voted to ban the acorn from federal funding. so far it has been all talk and no action. for years our colleagues on the other side of the aisle criticized us. in the face of clear wrongdoing, the same members have ignored congress's obligation to investigate acorn. members of the judiciary committee have a responsibility to look into allegations that acorn, and affiliated organizations and employees, are engaged in activities to undermine the integrity of our democracy.
4:21 am
today, our republican colleagues began that process. i will not turn to the gentleman from california, mr. issa, for his opening remarks. is the ranking member of the oversight and government reform committee. >> thank you. i want to thank you again for co hosting this form and continuing your leadership acorn to leadership accountable for its criminal activities. we enjoyed joint jurisdiction when it comes to ensuring that luck -- elections are fair, that our constitution be maintained, and that government be governed by the congress and not in fact determine who would be in the congress. i regret that this forum today is necessary because in fact the oversight and judiciary committee chairman have refused to do the type of oversight that
4:22 am
should be done. the american people deserve an official hearing into a corn. we have repeatedly asked for that and have not gotten it. today's government-sponsored forum will attend to -- i attempt to shed light on this abuse, in spite of the fact that it is by definition partisan. and it is necessarily partisan. we would like to have this committee appropriately non- partisan. partisan. we will show that acornno carri0 as they know about it on a corn. anyone having any information
4:23 am
concerning further wrongdoings of acorn can go to our whistle- blower web site. write to us or call us. this the first that and having the needy in america, those needing to renegotiate loans, those maintaining -- those with problems maintaining their housing, and those who would like to take advantage of their rights as citizens to take advantage -- to use organizations that are not tainted with one party. we're grateful but the documents -- for the documents that we have today, it thousand pages provided by various states. my staff tells me that in fact these documents are likely only the tip of the iceberg, but page
4:24 am
after page of this evidence shows that acorn officials have abused taxpayer money to enrich themselves, and led lavish lifestyles in sharp contrast with those of the americans acorn purports to help. what other top acorn officials discovered an embezzlement, instead of acting to a cop -- all those responsible fully accountable, these officials covered up the wrongdoing. evidence also indicates acorn is engages in illegal partisan activities designed to help individual democratic members. but in the primary and in the general. this goes from city councilmen to state assemblyman all the way to president barack obama. rather than using taxpayer grants to help the poor communities, of home acorn was
4:25 am
organized, it they enrich themselves in this criminal organization. it can only be described today as a political machine. because light shed on their many misdeeds, including videos of numerous acorn employees and location across the country, which buys two posing as a pimp and prostitute on how to engage in illegal activities on september 14 -- on september 14, the senate voted to cut funding to acorn. days later, the house to the same. more importantly, on september 24, 2009, congress passed and the president signed a continuing appropriation resolution federal funding to acorn. several state legislatures have done the same. as americans were enjoying their thanksgiving holidays, they learned that the obama administration had released an
4:26 am
opinion designed to overturn the very law congress passed and the president signed, that intended to cut off federal funding to. acorn this decision raises obvious questions that now deserve an answer. is this barack obama's payback to the political machine that helped get him elected? did the president signed in good faith a lot an attempt to it here to it, or is he trying to circumvent his own signature? acorn has received money from hud and several banks and foundation, some of the largest banks and america, including those that received tarp money. congress was clear -- all federal agencies were to immediately suspend their contracts with acorn, even the ones that preexisting. now the office of legal counsel at the department of justice has told hud that it can honor those contracts. as a result, a corn will
4:27 am
continue to receive taxpayer funding. before begin, let me briefly go over a few conclusions that our investigations beginning in january have discovered. acorn makes $48 million a year from its membership dues. today we will hear how those dues are received and how often they do not properly reflect what most people would consider to be membership. prior to the justice department decision to partially restore federal funding, acorn was financially bankrupt and had begun closing offices nationwide. acorn is currently in the process of changing its name and has already translated -- transferred resources to several chapters of the service employees international union, and possibly to the working
4:28 am
families party, changing to win, and the council and unity. these organizations are less well known but they helped acorn survive and prosper in its political ambition. it reflects a business model in which money is taken from poor people and bottle to partisan political efforts. acorn corporations lack fire walls. they blend tax-exempt and taxable and political activities as though they were one. acorn's on the internal audit revealed severe abuse of tax- exempt and taxable accounts. acorn creates in shares with its tax-exempt affiliate's data targeting at state and federal representative districts to ensure votes for democrats.
4:29 am
acorn has voter registration material the specifically instruct members to tell people to vote for barack obama for president. acorn has mishandled the personal financial information of its members, and those it serves, putting them at great risk for identity theft. the purposes of this forum is to explore the scope of acorn's misdeeds. the organization -- the degree of concern that every american should have that the current administration is fast becoming in reality the war room for acorn's political machine. why did the department of justice approved the furtherance of taxpayer funds acorn? why has the president and his administration continued to dismiss growing concerns about acorn's criminal acts as a
4:30 am
"distraction clause " and that "he has@@@@@@@ @ @ @ @ @ k duty to ensure that correct
4:31 am
organizations are not given the power to disenfranchise a our citizens and threaten our liberty. i look forward to our witnesses and i certainly hope that today's forum will be the beginning of a wake-up call to the majority -- for the majority to hold real hearings. and i thank the gentleman. >> thank you. some other members wish to make opening statements. we will turn to them now. the tillman from n.c. is recognized. -- that gentleman from north carolina is recognized. >> i think you have addressed the pertinent issues and not look for to hearing from the panel was the meeting progresses. i yield back. >> the gentleman from iowa, mr. kean, is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i appreciate you for holding this hearing together, this forum, more technically correct. but scan over the things that
4:32 am
come out in my mind as i listen to the presentations that each of you have made and covered a lot of the actual data. i have been watching acorn for four or five years. if anybody wonders about my dedication, i carried a constitution in my pocket every day, and end of my -- and in my other pocket i carry one of these, acorn. this is a threat to this constitution. of all the things that are guaranteed in this constitution, the rights that come from god to humanity that are enumerated in this constitution, the underpinning of the constitution itself, the very foundation, is the american people faith and confidence in the legitimate election process. and acorn, a criminal enterprise, has been engaged in many things. but the most dangerous to our republic is the corruption of the electoral process, but will fall and intentional submission
4:33 am
of fraudulent voter registration forms. and some will say, nobody voted fraudulently. we turned and a lot formed. acorn themselves admitted that 400,000 were fraudulent. but we have prosecution's going on in places like troy, new york for fraudulent votes 3 who would imagine that you would spend the millions of dollars that acorn has spent to produce all sorts of fraudulent voter registration forms and not have anything come out of that but a legitimate election? it defies any but a sense of logic. this is million of dollars spent. and the detroit -- and a fraudulent elections that come from false or fraudulent voter registration forms, what of their components? what is happened with the community reinvestment act? how is it that acorn was front and center, bragging about shaking down lenders to get them to make bad loans?
4:34 am
acorn was it they came to this congress and asked us to lower standards for fannie mae and freddie mac said they could pick off the loans that have party been shaken down by them? and a shakedown term is not mine. that is the chairman of the judiciary committee, john conyers, who put that into my years. a number of the appropriations committees, this congress needs to do it full court press. i'm interested in hearing from one of the witnesses to see if he has the resources to do way investigation of the national organization that are engaged in these things, including the of the small -- the embezzlement process, the coverup, the facilitation of false and fraudulent voter registration forms, and by the way, i will make a point also that i believe that when this
4:35 am
investigation is finally finished, whether it is done with legitimate investigation of state and federal authorities working in conjunction with congressional investigations and hearings, or whether it is finally uncovered by the historians, we are going to find out that these roads falling acorn to lead to the white house. we know that the president has worked for acorn, and he has been part and parcel of that, he has talked about it openly, project vote in particular, and i know he was a pro bono attorney. that entire network is something, the chicago organization, and the last point i will make is, the new white house counsel is the one who said -- set a seven-page letter to the attorney general urging him to investigate president bush and the mccain organization for alleging that acorn was
4:36 am
promoting fraudulent voter registration activities and arguing that they should be investigated and prosecuted if charges could be found. i think it is the exact opposite. now we can see what his job is in the white house, and historians will figure this out if we do not, but it is our congressional duty to get to the bottom of the acorn. >> let me get this right. there are roughly 100 acorns in the container. each one represents 400 fraudulent votes? >> that is a close estimate. >> can we of certain that none of the acorns were obtained fraudulently? dollars they may have all been obtained fraudulent. these came from the capitol grounds. that would be the acorns that belong to the american people. they represent the public's
4:37 am
interest in investigating acorn. >> mr. gohmert is recognized for an opening statement. >> thank you, mr. chairman, ranking members met -- i wish it were otherwise. and ranking member issa. i do think the witnesses for being here. this is such an important issue. for a government that wants to take over everybody's health care, where there are estimates of 50% of fraud, it really does same that we ought to be more interested in fraud. i know that there was he went right after the 2000 election
4:38 am
issue from the other party? i know that there are democrats they care about fraud and corruption. they are friends of mine. but apparently the leadership has not felt it was worth investing the time and effort on. this is critical. how can we run anything if we can i get this right and eliminate fraud when people have the courage to come forward and address it themselves. so i appreciate this hearing and the efforts that have already gone into this. i appreciate the efforts of the witnesses and i look for during your testimony. and as i looked down at the acorns, we know that from one acorn, many nets can grow. >> thank you, mr. gohmert. i recognize the gentleman from indiana. the former chairman of the
4:39 am
government committee. >> let's get that right. i want to thank both the ranking members for having this hearing. i wish we could have a complete hearing with the democrats being involved so we can get into some details in an efficient way, more efficient than this one today. all that they are secretary of state for being here. he is a real fighter. he works so hard to get the photo identification past, and also to make all the way through the supreme court, and they wonder if you are one of my theories and i really appreciate you being here today. i would like a lot of comments about what you have done but i will not still your thunder. let me just say that i do not think that there is any doubt that acorn is a corrupt organization. when you look at the things that they have done, they have evaded taxes, obstructed justice, engaged in self aided and abetted coverups about the
4:40 am
brother of that organization, that convicted investment fraud, deprive the public of its right to on a service is, committed conspiracy to defraud the united states, and as has been mentioned by my colleagues, the president was one of their " advisers and legal counsel brad the white house will do everything that they can to make sure that acorn continues to get federal funds. that is why this hearing is so important and we keep -- need to keep the pressure wrong. we need to keep the pressure on and make sure that we talk to our democratic colleagues so they don't try to sweep this under the rug. they've also submitted false filings to the irs and the department of labour prepared falsified and concealed facts concerning an illegal transactions between related parties in violation of the employment retirement income security act. that become embroiled in
4:41 am
numerous voter fraud cases. the prostitution and all the things that we've heard about. this is an organization that needs to be completely disbanded. it should not get a dime from the federal government and we need to be very vigilant in making sure we continue to pursue this. all this. i yield back the balance of my time. >> thank you, mr. burton 3 does that gentleman from louisiana have an opening statement? >> thank you very much. i know that acorn had its inception in louisiana, so i want to thank the assistant secretary general for being here to testify. i want to get the details -- if the backs of the situation, to see whether or not acorn was involved in illegal activities in louisiana, because coming from new orleans, i note that
4:42 am
the organization has done some good things in order to address the issues of minorities as well as other issues that concern the african-american community. again, thank you for being here and i look for to your testimony. >> thank you, mr. cao. >> i thank you for holding these hearings. allegations against acorn keep growing and growing. the more that we look at this organization, the more it l like a criminal enterprise -- nationwide criminal enterprise. most disturbing is that this criminal enterprise has at its tentacles at the most fundamental aspects of our democracy, voting. voting is sacred in this country for it is one of the reasons that we started this country, so that people would have a voice
4:43 am
in our democracy. and have some organization come and and flaunt their right to vote fraudulent voting procedures is something that we ought to be very concerned about because it is an attack that is the basic fundamental premise of our country, the right to vote. we get been attache in third world countries when they have voter fraud in their relations. all self righteous, not that we should not. but we talk about democracy is all over the world. we are quick to say that there is voter fraud in those elections. well, we ought to look at home and start dealing with our own issues. voter fraud comes up, i think, every two year's summer in the country. we talk about voter fraud and after the media goes on to the next event, it disappears and no one goes to jail. it is time that those coated jail for voter fraud in this country. and it needs to start where these people in acorn, if they
4:44 am
are guilty, they need to go behind bars. then they lose their right to vote. that is what happens to convicted felons in this country. i think it is imperative that we have an open dialogue and we find out the truth and get to the basis of what is taking place in this country, and in a taxpayer-funded organization that is supposed to help votes and denies other people the right to vote. that seems to be the worst of everything. the secretary of state for the state of washington recently said that acorn voter fraud is the worst case of voter registration fraud in history. of the state. of the 1800 names submitted by acorn in washington, 97% were falsified. and of course this is not unique to the state of washington. it is all over the united states, in missouri, ohio, and #r@ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @
4:45 am
our expert panel. our first witnesses secretary todd rookiquita.
4:46 am
he has overseen indian oblations with the commitment to innovation and technological advancements. his efforts to combat investment and mortgage fraud have led to the convictions of dozens of white collar criminals, over 300 years of jail time, and millions of dollars return to the victims. he went on to obtain a law degree from the indiana university school of law in in in the -- in indianapolis. he practice and an attorney before serving as general counsel to the secretary of state sewer and gilroy, and later as deputy secretary of state. our second witness is david caldwell. is the deputy director of the criminal division for the louisiana attorney general's office. he is also the head of these special corruption and prosecution unit. he graduated from louisiana state louisiana with a degree in english and russian.
4:47 am
after graduating from tulane law school, he worked the attorney general in the criminal law division. he is try and obtain convictions in white-collar cases in insurance fraud and vote rigging. he served as an advisor and coach for lsu law school, and for another program which began in 2003. our third witness is a senior legal fellow at the heritage foundation's center for zero legal and judicial studies where he manages civil reform initiative spirit before joining heritage in 2008, he severed two years as a member of the federal election commission. previously worked at the justice department as the council for the assistant attorney general for civil rights.
4:48 am
a former litigator, and a senior corporate officer, he worked on tort reform and civil justice issues for more than a decade in the insurance industry. he is a 1984 graduate of vanderbilt university school of law. he received his bachelor's degree in political science in 1981 from the massachusetts institute of technology. our final witness is a writer in washington, d.c., working with the american bar association acorn and association. she has partnered with a european organization as an election observer and macedonia. in 2008, she came for to expose the damage that acorn has done
4:49 am
to the impoverished and marginalized communities. we appreciate all of you being here today, and for your various perspectives, all useful and informative, and will begin with the secretary. >> thank you, ranking members met. -- ranking members smith and issa for holding this committee. representative burton, thank you for providing on the people of the fifth district of indiana. i share your concern. i am not sure why this is a partisan issue, quite honestly. when i talk to the indiana secretary of state about what we're doing, it is not just for republicans. it is democrats and everyone asking me. >> can you see if your green light is on? i can link closer.
4:50 am
dollars this is an american issue. this is a constitutional issue, as congressman king points out. as congressman poe points out, i think americans ought to be mad because we are in indiana. this is going on in our election process. we have worked very heart of the last several years to make sure that our process works. that it has the appropriate measure of a sensibility and integrity, and both are needed if we are to have a process that belief -- that people believe in. if people stop believing in the process, if they think their votes are deluded or stolen by zealots who would cheat the system in favor of the party or candidate or cause, then they stopped coming. and when we stopped coming to the polls, we lose the republic. that is why this is a fundamental matter. i am submitting written testimony along with two attachments.
4:51 am
i will attempt to abbreviate them here now and make your points. i'm happy to take your questions. i view my role as chief election officer for the state of indiana where i try to increase participation and maintain the cup -- the public confidence in the process by conducting a process that is a sensible and fair to all of those eligible to vote. in that sense, but registration fraud is voter fraud. this is a holistic problem -- process and that is one of the many ways that we as a state make sure that we have parameters in place, that we do not have chaos in the system, that we do have a process in fact. and voter registration is an integral part of that. i want to point out that in that same campaign, i think the third parties are very important to help us in voter registration. i do not think it would be a good idea to make the solely a government process.
4:52 am
it is lost on most of us, but the distinction is there. in a free society, we as people select to we want to send to government and then we'll let them to do that. that is why we basically have volunteers as poll workers. that is why it is acceptable and needed to have third parties responsible -- responsible for part is helpless in the -- responsible for party is helpless in the voter registration process. and i do not want to do away with that third party held, but the emphasis should be on the word responsible. as early as february 2008, in a as early as february 2008, in a work -- in a year that historic for indiana, we began receiving alarming reports from constituents in several counties throughout the state about fraudulent voter registration activities and the acorn chapter located in gary.
4:53 am
they dropped approximately 5000 voter registration applications at the office during the last few days and the hours of the voter registration period. apart from the chaos that this causes for election administrators to process all of that, and we are required to process those under law to make sure that no one is inadvertently disenfranchised. but many of these turned out to be suspicious, incomplete, or unverifiable. at that point i ask the lake county board to secure those applications, all the evidence associated with them, and sent as examples of what they were talking about. they did, and my office ended up sending copies of 1438 border registration application that had been flagged by the lake county board. evidence of a pattern of voter registration fraud was striking. for example, 61% of the
4:54 am
applications had one or more critical defect observable on the face of the application, rendering them in balladur useless 388% of that 1438 application number could not be verified the the in the end of voter mia -- vote -- the indiana motor vehicle registration. you should know that indiana law requires the identification on the application of anyone offering, completing, or updating voter registration information. only three of the altered applications identified the third party. 22% of the acorn applications appeared to be multiple applications prepared by the same individual. attorneys for acorn made several defenses. one of the main ones being that
4:55 am
indiana law requires acorn and other groups to turn and all voter registration applications. my opinion is that it is an absurd interpretation of indiana law. an analogy would be to our tax return. no one is required to turn in an knowingly fraudulent one. and the same holds true for indiana's voter registration law. the intent was not there that we turn in fraudulent voter registration applications, only that we did not want valid registration application sitting in someone's truck are turned in after the election or something like that. it is important to know that my office is not a law-enforcement agency. i have a great staff of attorneys that went in the heat of administering the election to
4:56 am
secure this information, and we got the statistics by doing a preliminary but informal investigation. in indiana, only a county prosecutor or the u.s. attorney can file criminal charges and the relevant law enforcement agencies have the investigative powers. imagine that we were able to find not having those powers and what could be found if further investigation was begun? i've been in contact with u.s. district attorney repeatedly for the last year. he assures me that an investigation is ongoing. but charges have yet to be filed. i was certainly encourage -- i would certainly encourage people here to enforce federal law when it comes to the 2008. there were federal candidate on the ballot which gives the federal government jurisdiction over this matter in indiana and elsewhere.
4:57 am
i'll submit my testimony for the record. >> without objection, the complete testimony will be made part of the record. >> thank you, congressman, and i appreciate the opportunity to be here today. the opinions i am expressing our mind on and not those of the heritage foundation. i would say that representative king was holding at heritage copy of the constitution. [laughter] acorn is a far-flung operation with numerous subsidiaries and affiliates. one person discovered 200 affiliate's, almost an under estimate, operating at a new orleans. it claims operations and 100 cities. some of these organizations engaged in political work, like its affiliate's citizen services which received more than $800,000 last year from the
4:58 am
obama presidential campaign. others have a tax-exempt charitable status. yet the $127 million in donations or tax dollars that acorn has reported to have taken in since 1993, and again that is an under estimate, are apparently moved around is that work of organization and coming but with no concern of the propriety or legality of doing so. congressman issa released a report that he talked about that found but structurally and operationally acorn hi behind the paper wall of non-profit corporate protection to conceal criminal conspiracy on the part of its directors to launder federal money in order to pursue a partisan political agenda and manipulate the american electorate. the report and other reports also show that acorn has been accused of evading taxes, obstructing justice, covering up
4:59 am
of million-dollar embezzlement submitting false filings to the irs, as well as violating the fair labor standards act. i think the million dollar investment may have been $5 million according to the louisiana attorney general who we will hear from. it was hidden by acorn for 10 years. senator grassley released a report which was a review of acorn's tax-exempt status. he found almost 50 such tax- exempt subsidiaries of acorn, mainly receiving charitable donations. he concluded that the flow of money among the acorn family of organizations is a big shell game. dollars raise for charitable activities appear to be used for impermissible lobbying and political activity. in 2008, elizabeth kingsley, acorn@@
5:00 am
the lack of documentation about the transfer of money between acorn and the many affiliate's, and the tax deductible, charitable donations, for political purposes, and the conflict of interest between acorn employees with roles in the tax-exempt entities and political activity. they inspired some of the members after they began to look for inspiration, in the internal operations of the organization. acorn is a mess where a small group contains all of the shell companies with a transfer millions of dollars. that is a classic pattern that is used by criminals to launder money and control their operations. the former leader of the
5:01 am
arkansans acorn office said that this was run like the cult of jim jones. jim jones cult, where all the money ended up under the control of the founder and longtime head of the organization." then we get to the undercover videos. they show five separate acorn offices providing assistance and advice to a couple posing as a prostitute and her pants on how operate an illegal business, commit tax and mortgage fraud, and money-laundering. the couple also admits they are smuggling and underage girls from south america for prostitution. not only do the employees not report human trafficking and sex slaves, they provided by some house successfully cover-up such an end -- such an operation from the authorities. acorn has had dozens of its
5:02 am
employees convicted of voter registration fraud and numerous elections. there are many different third party organizations batting cage in voter registration, but there is only one with a record of that kind of criminal activity, an obvious sign of problems within the organization itself. one former acorn employees said that there is no quality control on purpose. such voter registration fraud is a criminal violation of federal law, punishable by up to five years in federal prison. this criminal activity also interferes with the ability of regular voters to participate in the election. acorn has a habit, as the secretary has pointed out, of dumping huge numbers of voter registration forms on local election officials just before the deadline for voter registration for upcoming elections. so while officials are trying to process the registration of
5:03 am
legitimate voters, they have to spend a disproportionate amount of limited time and resources sorting through thousands of fraudulent and invalid forms submitted by acorn. one state audit alone in india not found that 83% of the registrations filed by a acorn and its affiliate, but private vote, were invalid. in the internal report, it said that the tight relationship between project but an acorn make it impossible to document that project vote boss money had been used in a strictly non- partisan manner. there appeared to be numerous violations of federal law by an organization receiving millions of federal tax dollars and may have abused its tax-exempt status. yet the department of justice in the fbi have been almost entirely silent and seemingly negligent in carrying out their duty to investigate and prosecute violations of federal law. as has the irs.
5:04 am
credit goes to officials in states like louisiana and nevada for opening investigations, but acorn is a sprawling, multilayer organization with offices all over the country. it operates in a multitude of different areas from elections to housing to even operating radio and tv stations. i'm sorry, is my time up? , could you summarize? >> the bottom line is that only the fbi and the justice department have the power to perform a nationwide investigation. and there is more than enough evidence for the undercover videos and all of these other reports to provide a basis for a federal investigation. the government has launched a major investigations of businesses and government contractors on much less evidence. what needs to happen is they need to act immediately -- the dumping of california of 20,000
5:05 am
documents in the trash by the san diego office only days after the secretary of state -- the attorney general announced an investigation shows that they are willing to destroy evidence and perhaps obstruct the law enforcement investigations. oversight hearings need to be in -- conduct and not just a acorn but also of the justice department and the fbi so that they are not doing an investigation, they can explain why not. >> thank you. mr. caldwell. dollars thank you for holding this hearing. can you hear me? i will keep my comments very brief. i do not want to rehash any of the stock already talked about. i did want to answer a question mr. king had with regards to the massive investigation, whether we have the resources to do that, just in case i kick off.
5:06 am
i would like to say no to start off with. but we are going to do what we can with what we have. it is probably unusual that a number of law enforcement and the investigating agency is here to testify before a committee regarding an ongoing investigation. we are aware of that but in this case it is necessary, because this is a nationwide issue. acorn is based out of new orleans. there is an allegation of fraud in several different areas, particularly involving taxpayer money, which is what we are principally interested in. and the public nature of this has been very helpful to us through the committees here. we have seen a lot of information and witnesses have come forth. you have been a great help enlighten us on a lot of different issues to help us narrow bands -- the focus of our investigation.
5:07 am
it is important to point out that as to the financial fraud, it was those people who brought this forward. it is not a democrat or republican issue. you put people in jail -- the justice not ask them if they are democratic -- democrat or republican. this is important to everybody and since this occurred in louisiana, a legion -- a louisiana agency would be remiss to sit on their hands and not do anything about it. that is why our office is involved in particular. i did want to point out that it was covered in the media that we executed a search warrant on the acorn offices in new orleans. i believe it was friday, november the sixth. we did that because we had gotten information from acorn attorneys that some of the hard drives were turning up missing. a lot of us were concerned that
5:08 am
maybe some more would turn up missing. unspent -- instead of spending years haggling about what was going to be turned over and what would not, we went ahead and secured all of that. we've got a lot of it back to those offices and we have done what we said we were going to do. what that search warrant yielded were 178 hard drives, the servers, on massive amount of information. also documentation that we were looking for that we had subpoenaed and had not yet gotten up until that date. what our mission is, if there are violations of state law, louisiana state law, we will pursue those. but if there are other potential violations of laws of other state or the federal government, i think we would be remiss if we did not handed over to somebody. i do not want to stick that in
5:09 am
the back closet. we put out the word to other state agencies, in contact with california, their attorney general's office regarding some nonprofit issue, and to the extent that we can legally and ethically share and provide the affirmation that we have obtained, we are certainly willing to do that. the issues that we're running into now is the people reviewing those documents are myself and my investigator, scott bailey, and we're in the process of getting another accountant. we tried to enlist the help of the governmental accounting office, perhaps the hands -- the inspector general, and we're reaching out to other states. we got an estimate for the forensic review of these hard drive and servers. the targeted estimate that we got back was approximately $3.5 million. just for a targeted review of
5:10 am
disinformation. the forensic people have to go in and determine what is privileged and what is not, and we have to have lawyers involved. we know that all runs up the bill pretty well. that is what we're dealing with. to the extent that any of you are able to help with those agencies that are in your jurisdiction, to either provide manpower or financial assistance from the federal government, what ever we need to do to try and get back to wait that, we have asked our state government for funding and we will see how that turns out. but i wanted to let you know that if it's an issue for us. we're in the process of hopping around on one leg with this investigation. but we will keep hopping until it falls off. if we run across something that is pertinent to other states, we're going to be active in that regard. how would encourage anybody watching this or any witnesses
5:11 am
-- if you have got something to say, and you have worked for acorn, and you really were interested in doing the right thing, became disenchanted -- we as a law enforcement agencies stand in the middle, and all we want to do is find out what the truth is, whatever that may be. it involves the illegal use of taxpayer money or private donor funds, we are going to do the right thing. that is been very helpful so i want to thank each of you for being a part of this process. i wanted to note that in louisiana, after allegations of voter fraud, we actually have a statewide registration system so that of someone registers in one parish in north louisiana, you cannot go double dip with the same name down in new orleans are bad -- or wherever. -- or baton rouge or wherever.
5:12 am
>> thank you, mr. cali. your invitation to come for leases to our next weapon -- mr. caldwell. your invitation to come forward leads to our next witness, thank you. [inaudible] . i was tasked with keeping track of the database, and i assisted the organizers on putting together a political plan, some of which are in the packet today. and i was responsible for
5:13 am
creating the political operations presentations that put together all the work between the political project boat across the board. the reason i have come for is because i noticed things happening -- in dealing with this project. this violated their status, and that is one thing that i saw and i testified to in pennsylvania. i also testified that they were operating as basically the same organization, and there was money being funneled between the organizations. i have testified that they promoted a culture of dishonesty that was motivated by getting a certain number of the registration cards whether or not .
5:14 am
i also testified that there is a system put on the organizers to get these cards, and if they did not get them every day, these people were fired. they were forced to sign a contract that said that a corn -- acorn would fire them. they did not know they were signing and -- what they were signing and often they would be thrown under the bus. >> thank you very much. the gentleman from california has taken the initiative on this issue and he is recognized for this question. >> thank you. i want to thank you for coming forward to the committee, and i will take a moment to define a little bit further your past. worked with other@@@@@@@ rr
5:15 am
this is furthering the community outreach and the community support to help them? >> i turned down a higher-paying job, because i thought i was logically in line with this. >> this is something that i hope that we all learned today, and i hope that we leave this knowing better. there are people who care about people in need, they find that these organizations are doing a good job. you went to the largest organization of its kind and found that they had another agenda. let's go through a little bit of that agenda. i will be fairly narrow, because my time is short and there are people who have not been through these answers as often with you.
5:16 am
i have made the accusation that this is a criminal enterprise. the partisan nature. all of us on the dais except perhaps one knew albert winn, local congressman here, well-liked on both sides of the i'm. you watched agosh's involvement in his -- acorn's involvement in his primary, democrat to democrat primary. can you tells about that? >> yes. during 200067 acorn was working with the 527 organization called communities voting together. communities voting together was actually another affiliate of acorn run by jeff robinson. jeff robinson also was head of c.s.i. and he was part of the acorn political operations. he came to me and he wanted to do a powerpoint to present to funds and other progressive organizations. the name of that powerpoint was campaign for a new congress. when i saw it, albert winn was pictured standing next to george bush. and they tried to paint him in a
5:17 am
light to make him seem that because he was friend with bush, he was seen laughing with bush, and they said that he supported his invasion of iraq. they were trying to get rid of albert winn in favor of donna edwards. donna edwards happens to sit on the board of one of the foundations that had provided acorn money for the 2006 voter registration drives. so i put together that powerpoint using the door knockers that acorn had flooded into the communities. and i scan them in. and that presentation was used to get more money in order to beat winn in maryland. >> well, let's kind of go back to that. you're working for a nonprofit, a 501-c-3 at the time that is prohibited from being involved in political activities, right? >> correct. >> and a political arm comes to you with an overtly federal election, primary in this case, and has made a decision that al winn is not their kind of democrat and they want your help on behalf of one of your
5:18 am
nonprofit donors that has helped you register voters in that very district, and they want you to in fact help a presentation that led to his defeat in the primary. >> that is correct. >> mr. smith, i'm going to ask a couple more questions. but i think for here today, the distortion even in the democratic primary of "you're not the right kind of democrat" speaks legions about why for the sake of both parties this should be investigated further. and i appreciate your coming forward with that. because obviously we would like the attorney general in maryland to do something about that in a timely fashion. plus the u.s. attorney. but let me go through a couple of others. you're very familiar with the corporate shell. you yourself were operating out of at least three corporations. did they carefully pay you allocated based on your time between the various corporations? >> no. i was a sal rid employee through
5:19 am
project vote. i was paid straight through the project vote payroll, though i functioned more on the first year and a half for acorn political operations than i ever did for project vote. >> so in a nutshell, right there, the very way they hired you using charitable tax-free, tax-deductible contributions from private individuals and corporations who cared about the poor and who cared about voter registration in those communities, you were used for overtly political events. >> correct. >> it sort of -- even after all the year i've had of living with this, it still surprises me when we go through that. maybe my last question, if you were to summarize the most important thing that you said to
5:20 am
try to change acorn and what the reaction was. because you were once a very important employee. and virtually overnight, as i understand it, on what i would consider to be pretty trumped-up charges of some expenses that should have been reimbursed and not reimbursed, suddenly found yourself out. what happened to go from being such a trusted employee, so active in it, to where quite frankly even though most of the charges have been dismissed, they went after you with a vengeance, firing you and suing you? >> well, because i had access to not only the donor database but like i said the accounting system -- >> say, i'm one of ms. moncrief's attorneys. >> i understand acorn continues to pursue her. >> this is an area we would rather not get into now although
5:21 am
we'll be happy to share with with you when the issues in the ongoing case are resolved. >> ok. last question, then. the various corporations, the affiliates around the country, what you saw in the way of nonprofit money being used for political activities, did you see those in other affiliates from your position? >> yes, i did. i saw them in acorn institute, aisj, american institute for social justice, as entities like working families party. they were all considered to be under the acorn umbrella. all of the money went into c.c.i. and was dispersed out for the political purposes. most of the money was not to help people, it was to run a political campaign. and it was an ongoing political campaign, even during a nonelection years acorn was still ramping up for the next voter registration drive or the next big push until 2008 which
5:22 am
they considered to be the big one, the once in a generation opportunity as they called it. >> thank you. mr. smith, thank you for your indulgence on a little extra time. >> you're welcome. thank you, mr. issa. ms. moncrief, let me ask you one quick question, that is given what you saw, the politicalization of acorn and project vote, and which you knew to be a misuse of funds and you knew that project vote was used for election reasons that were wrong, what made you decide to come forward? you could have resigned, you could have not said anything, you could have kept quiet. what made you want to go public? >> well, i tried to do this twice. in 2007 i contacted the employment policies institute. i spoke to a man named brett jacobsen. and we talked about some of the acorn's antics in relation to throwing people under the bus as
5:23 am
i call it. too many people during election cycles were being sent to jail for things that acorn was encouraging. and a lot of times they were targeting people that didn't have the best education, that didn't have a lot of resources. and these were the people that they were offering up like sack figures lambs. at the time he told me that i needed to find other employment because i had just had a baby. so i didn't do it in 2007. in 2008 i realized that i only had one opportunity to come out there and tell this real story because i knew what their plan was. i was at the planning meeting about what was going to happen with president obama. i had received a co nor list. i had received calls from the obama administration. so i knew what was going to happen if he was elected, that acorn would be like they are now, they're basically untouchable. things are kind of hitting them but they're sliding off. so i tried to tell this story before the election and the "new york times" killed it. after the election i've still been trying to tell it because it's important.
5:24 am
they're making money off the poor. poverty is big business for acorn. and it's time to let the poor people stand up instead of them standing on their backs. >> thank you for being willing to tell the truth. we appreciate it. mr. von spakovsky, given what you know and what you've heard, could any easterly tax or election laws have been -- any election laws have been violated? >> i'm not an expert on tax law, but i think it's pretty clear that they violated their tax-exempt status. and at the very least, they should lose that tax-exempt status and pay whatever fines are associated with having received partisan political contributions and money to engage in political activity. i think there's all kinds of potential, federal election campaign violations.
5:25 am
mismoncrief herself has testified under oath in court in pennsylvania about the fact that when she was working for acorn, they received a list of maxed out donors from the obama campaign and the instructions were to have acorn and project vote go to those people to raise more money so that they could use it to get out the vote for the obama campaign. i mean, there are so many potential violations of the federal election campaign act there that i can't list them all. >> ok. thank you, though. mr. roquita, a question for you. from what you've seen and firsthand, do you think the fraud was just limited to lower-level employees or was it top down? >> well, from what we've seen i think there is a mix. certainly one of the defenses was that these were employees that might have done these acts, if any acts were committed, and
5:26 am
thereforth organization as a whole implicated. well, the laws of agency and common sense refute all that. certainly these folks that were out on the streets, so to speak, collecting voter registrations had to have been trained somewhere. unfortunately they weren't trained in how to correctly do these things. they were trained in how to quickly get numbers. >> ok. thank you. and my last question, mr. caldwell, you've had some experience with a lack of adequate audits and accounting and so forth. you've heard other testimony. in your opinion, could acorn be considered a criminal enterprise? and if so, why? >> well, under louisiana law i think your question illustrates a problem that we potentially have with the prosecution of a corporation. you can't put a corporation in jail. so if you try and convict a corporation you're talking about
5:27 am
levying fines against them for whatever criminal activity the statute provides. what we foe on are people. -- focus on are people. the problem i see down the road is if you have someone and you do something to a particular corporation, nonprofit or otherwise and you've still got the same people then they just go and file under a different name. and so that to me is the real heart of the activity. in terms of an organization being a criminal enterprise, that can happen. now, you have different -- you have under civil law, you have civil -- a civil reco action and those -- ricoh action and those things that are filed. and civil i think is a matter of the degree of the burden. the problem that you have in these corporate cases is that the corporation a lot of times will put it on individual actors and say, well, look, we as a corporation as the brain center did not authorize this. it was this particular person. and they may throw that
5:28 am
particular person under the bus. so that's -- i don't know if that directly answers your question, but i think in terms of the actual people that's more what we look at, especially in a case like this. >> ok. that's sufficient. thank you, mr. caldwell. let me recognize the gentleman from north carolina, mr. kobul for his questions. >> thank you, mr. smith and thank you all for being with us. mr. von spakovsky, the attorney general recently told the "new york times" it is legal -- approved prior to laws that were enacted that prohibit acorn from receiving money. do you believe this is an accurate reading of the law? >> no. i've read the opinion released by the office of legal policy. i think it's quite a stretch to come up with that opinion. and it ignores, for example, the federal acquisition rules which specifically say that all
5:29 am
government contracts have to have a provision in them that specifically say that all payments are "conditioned upon availability of funds." and congress has said there is no availability of funds. so i think they are misinterpreting the law. >> i concur with that. mr. caldwell, in north carolina's early days there was a popular presbyterian minister who answered to the name of david caldwell. any relation? >> no relation. >> he would have been a debt and sister . >> i may be related to him. >> a cousin? one of the mentioned about the california office of acorn dropping material that may have been related to a state investigation. is there evidence that this -- is there evidence that this was done in louisiana? can you prosecute this? >> if we find during this
5:30 am
investigation that they have obstructed justice, that is very serious and we take this very seriously. what goes on in california, i am not that familiar with. there were documents in a dumpster. the argument is that based upon the scope of the subpoena, which was very broad, the question would be, where those documents relevant to what we had, or was this something that they were dumping out or cleaning house. this certainly raises eyebrows. when we hear something like that, regardless of the answer, we want to know the truth to get to the bottom line. we have to narrow this down and get to that part. >> i thank you for that. with the allegations that they have given wrong registration
5:31 am
forms, is this criminal activity and should this be prosecuted? >> absolutely. in my written testimony, i have two pages of the federal criminal statutes that have been violated. federal and state ricoh statutes as well as -- let me quickly look. the national voter rental administration act violations, its indiana comparison and the conspiracy against the exercise at voting rights found at u.s.c. 241 and its indiana comparison. >> thank you, sir. ms. moncrief i was going to get into the iowa winn controversy but i think you fairly well covered that. let me ask you this question. in an internal acorn memo describes several instances where grants and donations intended for nonprofit use was
5:32 am
in fact mixed or co-mingled with money used for partisan political purposes. now, to what extent do these actions violate election and tax laws? >> well, i think there are definitely federal law violations. i mean, for example several years ago the department of justice set up a -- they called it a national procurement fraud task force, which is as broad task force with people from the criminal division, various attorneys offices. and they list the various things they're on the lookout for to prosecute. and one of them is grant fraud. and in fact, if they were receiving government grants, not using it for the purposes for which they applied and transferring it to other entities, particularly political entities, then i believe they engaged in grant fraud which is something the justice department should be investigating and prosecuting. >> i again concur. mr. smith, i want you to notice,
5:33 am say, i'm yielding back prior to the red light illuminating. >> i thank the gentleman. with that we yield to the gentleman from texas, mr. gohmert, who can use that remaining time and five beyond it. >> i've often advocated that we ought to be given a number of words rather than time. otherwise it's -- >> would that help people with a southern drawl and the slow talk? >> it would be a tremendous help. >> ok. >> but mr. rokita, let me ask you in your report it mentioned that acorn had violated f.e.c. law. did the f.e.c. ever contact you regarding your complaint? >> no. you make allegations that were pretty brazen about violating the law in the federal election commission did not bother to get back with you? >> i don't know of any
5:34 am
communication from the federal election commission. and again, we focused a lot on the criminal statutes and put that to the u.s. attorney. and the lake county prosecutor as well. >> what u.s. attorney's offices responded to your request. >> the u.s. attorney's office for the northern district of indiana. and i've had numerous followup in-person meetings where i would travel to lake county in person to meet with him in his office and then now written correspondence. and they do assure that they are looking into the matter. >> how many from the u.s. attorney's office in maryland got with you? >> in maryland? >> right. >> none. >> ok. just indiana. >> just indiana. >> all right. mr. caldwell, did acorn actually
5:35 am
share accounts with tax-exempt groups like acorn institute and project vote to your knowledge? >> we're in the process of determining that. we issued subpoenas for bank account records early on, before all of the prostitution scandal broke. and we're in the process of obtaining that documentation. it's my investigator just handed me. this we have acorn-related bank accounts. we've got 89 pages, 700 plus accounts to analyze. and so part of the task that we have and any agency investigating this to determine what agencies are affiliated and to follow the money. so that's what we're in the process of doing now. but i will say that we had an issue with some certain agencies now saying they're not affiliated with acorn. that very thing came up when we issued a subpoena to the
5:36 am
accounting firm for acorn and c.c.i. we got a letter which is filed in the public record back from our project vote saying they're not affiliated with acorn in any way, and therefore should not be part of that subpoena. and that concerned us because you have a lot of organizations that are under the umbrella. and so if we have to fight every single one of those in court we'd be five or six -- i mean, we won't get anything done. so that was another impetus behind the search warrant. because now we have i believe the documentation and media that we need so we can do it on our timeline and other folks'. >> have you so far found evidence that those representations of no association were inaccurate? >> we do have account records. well, it depends on how you define "association." i think that's part of what the wiggle room that people are attempting. >> if it were defined as "receiving money from or giving
5:37 am
money to" do you have evidence that they were associated in that manner? giving money to or taking money from? >> which organization did you ask? >> well, either acorn institute or project vote. >> i believe we're on that track. i blown mean, i will tell you this. we're going to file a response in the public record to project votes objection. and it is our position that they are in fact affiliated with acorn such that we are allowed to review their documentation. if it takes too long we're just going to issue another subpoena specifically directed to them. i mean, for us it's about the fastest means to obtain what the truth is. so we're not really going to do a whole lot of legal wrangling with them. but to answer your question, yes, i do believe they're associated. >> what was the role of citizens consulting inc.? >> they as we understand it are the financial arm of acorn. so for example they process all the payroll for acorn
5:38 am
nationwide. any of those organizations and entities. so that's where all the money flowed through, or most all of it to our knowledge. >> thank you. mr. von spakovsky, how does robert bauers' appointment as white house general counsel jeopardize in your opinion a proper investigation into acorn? >> well, i mean, i have to say, i know bob boronia personal level. he's a very nice guy -- bob bauer. but he is a fierce opponent. and he was the acting general counsel for the d.n.c. and he's willing to do just about anything to win. and i mean, his letter last year in which he tried to get the justice department do a criminal investigation of anybody who really who talked about voter fraud -- i mean, his claim was if you talk about voter fraud you're trying to intimidate voters. and you know, with him now being the white house counsel, that
5:39 am
gives me a lot of worries. i mean, i guess i should be looking in the mail for a grand jury subpoena because i write about voter fraud, you know, quite a bit. but that concerns me greatly so far there's been absolutely no movement, no information whatsoever that the justice department or the f.b.i. are doing any kind of investigation. and look, you and i, we all know in this room that if for example a national real estate company, realtor, if there were five undercover videos of a realtor in five of their different offices around the country telling people how to engage in mortgage fraud by covering up what you actually do in the applications you're sending in, there would be a federal investigation going on and it would have been announced with great fanfare at the justice department. >> well, you say.
5:40 am
that but it could depend on whether that group had made loans to people in a particular party in congress perhaps. and maybe they wouldn't have announced it with fanfare. if i could just ask ms. moncrief with your indulgence. you. you mentioned previously about the communication that it was really more important to get 1.4 million voters registered than it was to worry about some of them being improper or false. who specifically would have communicated that? >> the political directors of senior management. we would have meetings of acorn political operations. and they would go over the types of things that were needed for this drive. and one of them was that they said they didn't mind if a few bad cards slipped through in order to get to the goal. it was all about getting the
5:41 am
numbers. it really didn't matter whether the cards were correct. >> but who were those directors that you recall communicating that? >> kimberly olsen, zach pollette was the head of acorn political operations, nathan henderson james was there, jessica angus, ben hana and claire -- i can't think. her first name is claire. >> well, and again -- >> claire crawford. i'm sorry. >> we appreciate so much your willingness to come forward. have you been threatened, harassed at all for coming forward as you have? >> when i first came forward i had some problems. but things are getting better the more that i get out there. and i just wanted to mention that we actually counter sued project vote under the alter ego theory so we may want to provide some of that information to louisiana. it may help with the claims. >> ok. thank you all so much. >> thank you, gentlemen. certainly part of the reason we're holding this forum today is so that we can shed light on
5:42 am
the lack of fire corporations -- lack of firewalls for these corporations perhaps making the case these corporations do not deserve separate identity. normally piercing the corporate veil has to do with is it operating as a separate corporation or not. and with that i would recognize for his questions the gentleman who will probably be sundown as the acorn king -- probably be known as the acorn king. >> thank you, mr. issa, for pulling this forum together and working in cooperation with the balance of the people in this committee. first reflection is, i better come to the end and do that. i'd like to conclude with ms. moncrief. it really caught my ear when mr. von spakovsky made the statement about the now white house counsel bob bauer as and i would ask to the two parts of to
5:43 am
the question, have you reviewed the letter he wrote to the justice department a year ago that i referenced in my opening statement. you may recall in the last paragraph of that letter -- you may recall in the last paragraph of that letter that he requests a private, personal meeting between himself and the attorney general, the attorney general mull casey at the time. i never did find out whether that meeting took place or what might have been discussed that would have accelerated the fierceness of this. but i pose that question if you have some answers to that or any indication. then the other component is, is it a stretch to speculate that mr. bauer was hired at least in part to help scrub the links between the obama campaign, the obama white house, and acorn? >> i have read his letter. i don't know the answer to the question of whether there ever was a meeting between mucasey and bob bauer. i mean, i don't know the answer
5:44 am
to the other question. i mean, that would be speculation on my part which i don't really want to do. i do know he's a very good lawyer. and he would do whatever it took, i think, within the legal bounds, to do the best job he can for his client. and if that meant making certain that there are no problems in the connection between -- the prior connections between the president and this company, i thought he would work on that, very much. >> in turning to him, i want to say, publicly, thank you for your successful effort on cleaning the election law in indiana. that is something i want to do in iowa. many of the things that you have
5:45 am
accomplished with legislation that you were able to push through, this failed in the house. this is very well done. i just want to say that this has integrity. this is not democratic or republican. you have mentioned that you are working with the northern district of indiana, and that there have been a number of communications there. i will ask you, so that this panel knows how to recognize people working together, can you tell us the name of the u.s. attorney? >> i want to watch the news as this unfolds. i am looking for people who care about the constitution and i want to have the right -- have the right people on the back when the time comes. and then to the attorney general -- that was a bold decision to go in, and get that
5:46 am
information, getting the 178 hard drives that he talked about. i have not been there since the first part of july. there was a large campaign posters for obama in the front window. this was at the international headquarters. the remembered if this was still there when you serve the warrants? n a few times over the past few months. and i have never seen that sign. i'm not saying it wasn't there at one point. so that's probably been for at least a couple of three months. i did not see any political campaign signs. >> put it on the floor in a poster often enough i imagine that was an inspiration for them to pull it down before you arrive with your subpoena. just a little aside for my own information. but you also mexicoed in your oral testimony that there were documents that you had formerlily subpoenaed in the blanket i'll call it a raid on
5:47 am
acorn's headquarters in new orleans. are you at liberty to tell us what documents they did not produce when they were specifically subpoenaed? >> well, we really to be honest with you didn't get that far. because we issued a subpoena. and this is all in the public record. because when they filed their motion for protective order we issued a subpoena for the accounting records. and we directed that to their accountant. the duponche firm. we heard back from them in written and oral correspondence. they said look we want to comply but our client is telling us to assert an accountant-client privilege. that's not under federal law. that's under state law. and so they filed a protective order. and as part of that protective order they put in a correspondence from acorn, the attorneys for acorn saying, well, we're going to comply with the federal subpoena but not with the state subpoena. and that caused concern, simply because with this amount and this type of massive
5:48 am
investigation, i mean, if we have to litigate that before a state court judge who's got to review hundreds of thousands of documents in camera it's just never going to get done. so that caused us concern. and now in discussing that initial conversation with acorn's lawyer, that's when she told me, she said, i just want to let you know that we've had a couple of hard drives that we're in the process of trying to get back but we weren't successful. and she did say those may contain information that would be relevant to you. and so that caused us concern. because while we had heard other things around the country regarding potential destruction of documents and that type of thing, all of that was to attenuate it. that additional piece provided us with probable cause. so we were not able to get -- it was very early on. as soon as we heard about it we executed that warrant two days later because we wanted to ensure. now, they have been making rolling production. and one of their responses other than the protective order to us is that, look, we'll provide you
5:49 am
with stuff but your subpoena is very, very broad. so you need to tell us and we'll do a rolling production. so i will say this. the lawyers have complied with that part of it. but they can't control an entire organization in terms of destruction of documents. if somebody wants to run off with something then they'd be able to, it doesn't matter what their attorney says. >> can i ask for unanimous consent for additional minute? >> without objection. >> i thank you. i promised i'd get to ms. moncrief. i wanted to make a comment i think everybody else in the panel has some kind of support team that they work with. i'm hoping that you have a support team as well. and i want to encourage you to continue to do what's right and speak for the truth. you've seen the films i will presume, at least some of them that were released to america by james o'keefe and hannah generals. and could you tell this panel, do you believe that reflects accurately the culture of acorn?
5:50 am
>> honestly, i think it does. even though the videos were extreme, what happens is that acorn allows for people to kind of blow the lines in order to get the job done or to help the movement. and eventually what happens after you've blown the lines so many times you have what you see in those videos where people are overstepping boundaries and they're very comfortable with it. unfortunately, those offices were like that. there are some offices where people are genuinely trying to help the poor. but usually those people do not last long and they end up leaving acorn. the ones that stick around tend to become jaded and they would give that type of advice. so i wasn't shocked but i was very saddened to see that's what it had come to. >> thank you very much. thank you, mr. chairman. thank the witnesses. >> thank you. and now we recognize a man who issued more subpoenas than any other chairman in his time and perhaps in history. and if he had the ability to seize documents before destruction before his tenure
5:51 am
i'm sure he would have done it. the gentleman from indiana, mr. burton. >> i only signed 1209 subpoenas. i did get writer's cramp, though. i just have about three quick questions. first of all, from mississippi moncrief, do you have any idea how much money was involved in all these things that you were witnessing? i mean, when you met with these people they were talking about allocation of funds and getting people registered and so forth. do you have any idea of the commingling of funds or how much was used? >> i know that just for the voter registration drive last year it started off at $28 million. by the time i left it was upwards of 33 to $34 million. and that's just on the project vote side. >> now, that $33 million, do you know where that money came from? do you have any idea of how it was split up? >> foundations. most of the money came from private foundations and major donors. very little came from the government because of it being a
5:52 am
voter registration drive. they did have a couple of election assistance commission grants, but the majority of that money came from private foundations. it was then cycled through c.c.i. and disbursed to acorn because project vote doesn't have the capacity to run the voter registration drives. they could not do them unless they were contracting out to acorn to get the people out there. >> but they obviously were working very closely together. >> yes. >> yeah. todd, secretary rokita, there's a couple of questions i wanted to ask you. the state attorney general and the u.s. attorney's office were contacted regarding these cases as well as the f.e.c. whatever happened with those? i mean, did the state attorney general do anything? the u.s. attorney? you said he has up in the northern district. >> right. at the time that we -- this was right before the 2008 fall election, we did send the report that we attached as record here to the indiana attorney general, u.s. attorney, federal bureau of
5:53 am
investigation, and the letter we got back from a deputy at the attorney general's office in indiana was that if the local aid county prosecutor or if the u.s. attorney want our help we'll do it but we're not going to get involved before that. >> you're kidding me. >> no. >> didn't they have the authority to go ahead as state attorney general and move on that? >> again in indiana, every state is different, of course, the state constitutional office holders are very limited in their criminal investigative powers. and those are reserved. and the prosecutors are very protective of this because i've tried to get a -- thank you for your compliment, congressman keene but i've tried to get criminal jurisdiction over elections and got pushed back very hard by the prosecuting attorney's council in indiana because they file criminal charges. >> but you said -- so the state attorney general really couldn't do anything without the consent of the local prosecutor?
5:54 am
>> both of our offices could be deputized by either u.s. attorneys or local prosecutors. >> but fe chose not to do that? >> not yet. >> not yet? well, there's still hope. and finally, i just want to ask mr. von spakovsky one question. you said there are many connections between acorn and president obama. i have heard of a few. can you enumerate some of those? >> i'm sorry. between acorn and -- >> and president obama. you alluded to connections. the only one i've heard of was he was a counsel for them or an attorney. >> well, yeah, he represented -- when the national voter registration act was first passed in 1993, he represented them in the lawsuit they filed in illinois. but my understanding is that there is video of him speaking at many of their conferences, that he was actually a trainer
5:55 am
for them. also like i said last year they gave a lot of money, i think it was $830,000 to one of their affiliates to do voter registration, get out the vote for them. there are many connections over the years between these two organizations that have tied him into them. i mean, they are supposedly community oers, something that he started off at -- as in his career. and i think he helped get training from them and then was training their people. >> mr. chairman, thank you once again for holding these hearings. i really appreciate you people being here. thank you very, very much. >> i thank you and i thank you for your good work here today and your patience. i'm going to do a second round for anyone that wants to remain. secretary rokita, in your state do the republican and democratic parties do voter registration?
5:56 am
>> absolutely. >> and when they're presented with funds to the party to do that registration, they're required, i assume, to take all registration that is come their way. they can't say, do you want to register republican? >> right. that's not based on any kind of funding, that's based on indiana law if you possess a voter registration, assuming it's valid or you think it's valid you should turn it in. >> right. so when you -- when the republicans and will the democrats in -- when the republicans and the democrats in indiana do voter registration they take all the registrations that are full and. >> yes. >> let me just presume they turn them in a little less at the last minute than acorn has tended to. >> absolutely. again we weren't responsible like political parties to do voter registration. >> i want to get into something that concerns me a great deal. when they take money it's not
5:57 am
tax deductible, isn't that correct? it's campaign money. parties are not tax deductible to individuals or corporations when you give to them. >> no. >> and yet acorn's voter registration division was getting tax deductible, 40% paid by state and federal tax deductions to those contributing. isn't that your understanding? >> yes. >> so let's see. here's an organization that i believe only registered -- let me rephrase that -- regsters and then turns out votes only for democrats even though they obviously accept all registration that is come in. but they turn them out for one party and yet they're able to have a 40% advantage in money. their money is charitable, tax deductible foundations very named foundations are able to give them money where they can't give the republican or democrat parties or libertarian or people for freedom money, right?
5:58 am
>> i think that's the case and i believe it's ridiculous. >> well, ms. moncrief, from your time looking at the accounting and so on, was that an advantage that was often sold? in other words, when acorn's fundraising went onto foundations, was that an advantage to foundation that is you can give us money where you couldn't give money to the republican or democrat or libertarian parties? >> yes. acorn was specifically targeting progressive funders or liberal funders. most of the people that they were trying to get the money from wanted them to go after democrats and they knew that if they gave money to acorn it was just like giving money to the d.n.c. or giving money to a candidate. >> so $38 million essentially given to a democratic movement around the normal restrictions on charities and charitable deductions for that. so rich progressives and progressive organizations could do this with a huge advantage. because this money cost them less to get.
5:59 am
it was charity money. >> correct. >> amazing. and if project vote, as you said, employed you and had you specifically doing things which were not allowed to a 501-c-3, and it was discovered, wouldn't they lose their tax-exempt status? >> you would think so. but there's been some hesitancy from the i.r.s. to investigate even though we presented some information to them last year. >> also amazing. you know, when you were giving your statements on the pattern, i couldn't help but think that as a freshman when i came to congress and we were in the heat of enron they were talking about how enron had to get certain numbers and the accounting, over tim


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on