By Roger J. Stone Media coverage of ACORN and that organization's illegal activities in New York, California and elsewhere has largely ignored one of ACORN's most successful projects; New York's Working Families Party (WFP). Because of the unique nature of New York State election law, candidates are allowed to be endorsed and appear on the voting machine ballot as the candidate of multiple parties, winning the cumulative total of all votes cast for that candidate on multiple party lines. Minor parties such as the Conservative, Liberal and Right to Life Party have played significant roles in New York politics. The Working Families Party is not about working people or families and it isn't really a party. The WFP is a wholly owned subsidiary of ACORN. Bertha Lewis co-chair of the Working Families Party is the Executive Director of New York ACORN. New York ACORN leader, Steven Kest was the moving force in forming the party and WFP headquarters are located at the same address as ACORN's national and New York office at 88 Third Avenue in Brooklyn, New York. WFP is essentially a money funnel which pays for an aggressive door to door canvas. Largely funded by unions, the WFP is ACORN's "political arm" in New York State. Candidates supported by the Working Families Party and issues supported by ACORN are both advocated on the door steps of target voter homes as they share one major voter canvas. The Working Families Party has no county organizations or county committee men or women and no local structure beyond its top leadership and an army of paid canvassers. Since the major parties no longer have the man power to organize an effective voter canvas, Democrats have turned to the WFP for their door to door campaign activities. But more importantly, the Working Families Party is a criminal enterprise utilizing a for-profit political consulting firm, Data and Field Services (DFS) to skirt New York City election laws regarding public finance and campaign spending limits. It's the classic "pay to play" politics. Candidates like Democrat Bill de Blasio pay the Working Families Party and this shady "consulting firm" which operates from the same address as the WFP and New York ACORN. The city Campaign Finance Board recently said "there are no apparent firewalls between them." The New York Daily News has called the relationship between candidates endorsed by the WFP and DFS an "election funding scam." Queens County Democratic Chairman Clarence Norman went to prison for trading his party endorsement and ballot position in return for political consulting contracts to favored vendors. The Working Families Party endorses candidates willing to pay DFS. But the WFP-DFS scam is even more insidious than that. DFS provides the candidates a discounted rate on their canvassing, staff and get-out-the-vote services - thus allowing the candidate to cheat the public campaign finance system which enforces strict campaign spending limitation. For example, a voter file like the one public advocate candidate Bill de Blasio purchased from Data and Field Services should have cost $40,000. Instead, he paid only $5,000.[i] Why the sweet deal? De Blasio, a Brooklyn Councilman, has been endorsed by the Working Families Party. But the back-scratching goes both ways. De Blasio and Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, both endorsed by the WFP in their respective races, were among the four Council members who steered $85,000 in government grants to another ACORN affiliate, New York Agency for Community Affairs. City Hall reports that the non-profit NYACA "transfers most of those funds to the same ACORN account out of which many political expenses on behalf of favored candidates are drawn." [ii] So, de Blasio delivers public cash to ACORN and gets their WFP endorsement and ballot position as well as discounted rates on the door-to-door canvassing for his campaign in return. De Blasio and seven council candidates have reported sending a total $154,033.76 to DFS. As of mid-July, the WFP had transferred $554,629 to DFS from its general party account, which had received $345,000 from unions. City Hall, a Manhattan media publication, conservatively estimates that DFS has spent at least $1 million in city races and that the disparity between DFS costs and payments made to the for-profit by city candidates is around $700,000.[iii] Four WFP candidates including de Blasio have sent a total of $42,467.30 to New York Citizens Services, Inc., a company that shares its Brooklyn address with ACORN, the WFP, and DFS. The ACORN-WFP canvas must be somewhat like "Springtime for Hitler," the play produced on Broadway by Max Bialystock; over subscribed. Funded with a mix of public funds, party funds, union funds and candidate payments, the Working Families Party is free to charged favored candidates ridiculously discounted rates for campaign services through their for-profit arm DFS. New York Executive Director and WFP co-chair Bertha Lewis once said, "Candidates know that when they're on our line, they're committed to certain things." [iv] Participation in a conspiracy to evade campaign finance laws and cheat the taxpayer funded campaign finance system must be what Lewis had in mind. Manhattan District Attorney candidate Richard Aborn has reported sending $55,000 to DFS. He was defeated in the Democratic Primary. In addition to Mark-Viverito, who's running for re-election, the seven Council candidates with DFS contracts include: Danny Dromm, SJ Jung, Brad Lander, Jimmy Van Bramer, Debi Rose, Lynn Schulman, and Jumaane Williams. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has opened an investigation into the activities of NY ACORN. The Attorney General will soon realize that ACORN and the Working Families Party, which endorsed Cuomo for AG, are one in the same. Cuomo should recuse himself and ask Governor Paterson, also endorsed by the Working Families Party, to appoint a Special Counsel to conduct the investigation. The Working Families Party should be prosecuted for their use of DFS to skirt campaign finance laws at a minimum. More likely is a RICO action against ACORN. Former Philadelphia U.S. Attorney, David Marston has written an excellent article on why ACORN is involved in racketeering and why they should be prosecuted under the RICO statutes. Roger Stone is the Editor and Publisher of the STONEzone at
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