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Friday, November 20, 2009

ACORN, Brown, and the Cali Tapes

In the summer and fall of 2008, Michigan ACORN board member Adrianna Jones attempted to remove the head organizer for Michigan ACORN, David Lagstein. She wanted him removed based on three failings: 1) lack of financial oversight of Michigan ACORN 2)abuse of canvassers during the 2006 election cycle and 3) "disrespect of the membership". Jones eventually brought up a motion for removal at the September 2008 board meeting of the Michigan ACORN board meeting. That motion eventually passed and Lagstein was scheduled to be fired, when the motion met opposition. Jones was eventually opposed by a faction of the boad lead by Karen Flagg and her motion was reversed. She later joined with the effort of Marcel Reid and Karen Inman to demand a forensic audit of ACORN that lead to the formation of ACORN 8.

When Jerry Brown ran for Mayor of Oakland and subsequently Attorney General of California, Fannie Brown represented ACORN as they endorsed him both times. ACORN hasn't yet endorsed Brown for Governor but that likely has much to do with their own toxicity currently.

Meanwhile, following the stand off in Michigan, Lagstein was moved from Michigan to California. California is also home to one of the biggest and most important funders (those that shower ACORN with money) Herb and Marion Sandler. The Sandlers have been associated with the sub prime crisis through their ownership of Golden West Financial. They were also forever satirized by this Saturday Night Live skit. To ACORN however, they are a near endless supply of money.

Meanwhile, following the release a couple weeks back of the latest installment of the James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles undercover videos, Jerry Brown announced an investigation. At first, most thought that was an investigation of ACORN. Then, a couple days back, word leaked that in fact Brown was targeting not ACORN, but Giles and O'Keefe. Then, it was revealed by Langstein that Brown confided in him that ACORN needn't worry because they weren't the target of the investigation, instead O'Keefe and Giles were.

Let's break it down. First, Brown has no business getting himself involved here. He has a plethora of conflicts and this case is the poster child for what happens when there are conflicts. It was highly inappropriate to communicate with ACORN while investigating them. He should have stepped aside to begin with and now he should be sanctioned. Second, if California is a two way consent state, then O'Keefe certainly, Giles maybe, and Breitbart and even You Tube, might all technically be breaking the law. By this, I mean that California would be a state where both parties must consent before a recording occurs. Even my blogging nemesis, Michael Gaynor, has made this point. Of course, there's something called prosecutorial discretion. So, even if they technically broke the law, the prosecutor must decide if this case is worth prosecuting. Finally, Lagstein is no stranger to controversy.

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