Ok, bear with me here. This is getting into the minutia…
In a prior post, I linked to an email from ACORN which issued a call for people to work for ACORN and get out the vote for Obama in the Ohio primary. The recruits were not to call the Obama campaign but to apply directly to ACORN. Here is the email from a blog post dated February 21, 2008:
GOTV for Obama! Ohio ACORN is doing a Get Out The Vote project with the OBAMA Campaign. Ohio ACORN is hiring canvassers to go door to door encouraging voters to vote for Barack Obama.
ACORN is hiring in Cleveland (216)431-3905, Columbus (614)425-9491, Cincinnati (513)221-1737, for Dayton (call Cincinnati), and for Toledo call Cleveland. Or email firstname.lastname@example.org and your inquiry will be routed to the appropriate person in each of these cities. Intake and training will be held daily at local ACORN offices. Canvass begins on Wednesday Feb. 27th and will work through election day. Please, only persons wishing to work all or most of these days (Saturday and Sunday included) should inquire.
Please do not contact the Obama campaign directly regarding this post as they are not the organization doing the hiring and it will only distract their staff and volunteers from the other important work they are doing on behalf of Senator Obama.
A Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article details this activity paid for by the Obama campaign to the tune of over $800,000.
Obama is the CSI’s first national candidate, although the company has worked for several regional candidates in recent years, said Jeff Robinson, CSI’s executive vice president.
“Our contracts were relatively small for Obama,” he said, declining to specify amounts because of “proprietary” rights of CSI’s clients. The largest project for Obama was during the Ohio primary, he said.
“That was a very short-term contract for one week of work. In Ohio, they asked us to do canvasses in five cities statewide,” Robinson said.
The Ohio primary was March 4. According to FEC records, the Obama campaign paid Citizens Services Inc. $832,598.29, from Feb. 25 to May 17.
I wonder why the payments extended to May if they did only one week of work.
Later in the Trib-Review article, Citizens Services Inc., attempts to create distance from ACORN.
Sunday Alabi, an ACORN activist and spokesman in St. Paul, is one of CSI’s three-person board of directors. Alabi described CSI as a nonprofit consulting firm related to ACORN.
“I do not know the day-to-day work of what they do. I’m on the board,” Alabi said, referring other questions to [Jeff] Robinson, the executive vice president.
Robinson said CSI is a “not-for-profit political and campaign management firm, much like any political consulting firm.”CSI is not tax-exempt under any IRS code, he said. Without tax-exempt status, the organization isn’t bound by IRS restrictions for nonprofits on political activities.
“We have a wide range of clients. We provide political campaign management. We provide field services,” Robinson said. “Our clients are typically considered liberal. Our clients are labor unions, liberal to progressive candidates, nonprofit organizations on the liberal side of the political spectrum.”
In 2006, CSI collected all the signatures and managed successful statewide ballot measure campaigns in Missouri, Ohio, Colorado and Arizona to increase the minimum wage, he said. “We have a good reputation. We provide good services.”
Regarding CSI’s nonprofit status, Robinson said: “We are organized specifically not to make money, but we make money. There are no profits. We have a staff of 60 people around the country, and that eats up our entire profit. We’re not a for-profit corporation, but we are not a group like a United Way.”
CSI is a “separate organization entirely” from ACORN, he said.
“ACORN is a client of ours,” Robinson said. “ACORN has a lot of different partner organizations. We are a partner, but we are separate.”
If ACORN and CSI are separate, then why was ACORN Ohio recruiting for GOTV activities? If ACORN has tax exempt status (not completely sure on that) and receives taxpayer money for educational services (they do), then they should not be engaging in partisan activities. If these sources are accurate then they did do partisan activities in the Ohio primary. One wonders what they will be doing with taxpayer money in November.