Obama Was Co-Counsel Against Citibank in 1994 Suit for “Red-lining” – Can You Say ACORN?

Senator Obama Has Said He “Never Organized With ACORN” or “Worked For Them in Any Capacity” and Has Pointed Fingers at Wall Street and Bush’s Policies,  Anyone, and Everyone But Himself (or His Own Party) in the Sub-Prime Mortgage Mess…

But His Associations and Prior Activities Put in Him Directly At Ground Zero of the Financial Crisis and Only Raise Many More Questions

On June 12, 2008, Democratic Presidential Candidate Barack Obama’s campaign set up a website dedicated to fighting “viscous rumors” about the candidate. The site, entitled “Fight the Smears” seems to have a “smear du jour” which it addresses and lists nineteen separate issues on which the campaign apparently feels its candidate has been unfairly “smeared” to date. For instance, the issue of the day, October 9, regards Sen. Obama’s “tangential” relationship with unrepentant Weather Underground terrorist-turned Professor of Education and author, William Ayers.

One of the issues addressed concerns the now widely discussed organization, ACORN. The group’s acroynm stands for Associatons of Community Organizations for Reform Now, and describes itself as:

The nation’s largest grassroots community organization of low- and moderate-income people with over 400,000 member families organized into more than 1,200 neighborhood chapters in 110 cities across the country.  Since 1970, ACORN has been building community organizations that are committed to social and economic justice, and won victories on thousands of issues of concern to our members, through direct action, negotiation, legislative advocacy and voter participation.  ACORN helps those who have historically been locked out become powerful players in our democratic system.

ACORN has a purportedly separate, incorporated entity, that was specifically created to address housing issues:

National non-profit ACORN Housing has been providing free housing counseling to low and moderate income homebuyers since 1987. We have opened HUD-certified, Fannie Mae-approved housing counseling offices across the US, helping over 50,000 families to achieve homeownership.

Obama’s “Fight the Smears” site includes a page with “acornrumor” in the address bar. This page states that “Obama never organized with ACORN.” In addition, the Campaign asserts that Obama never trained for ACORN nor was he employed by them in any other capacity other than his representation of the organization in a 1995 suit against the Justice Department for violations of the “Motor Voter” law in Illinois. Finally, the campaign reports that ACORN was not involved in Obama’s 1992 effort “Project Vote“. The Fight the Smears site addresses accusations by a Ken Blackwell that the campaign describes as a “voter suppression guru”. If Mr. Blackwell, whoever he is, was the only party questioning Mr. Obama’s associations with ACORN, he might be worth looking into. Rumor aside, there is no question that Sen. Obama has a long history with ACORN.

Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and an investigative reporter for National Review, has spent months intensively investigating Senator Obama, including his connections with William Ayers and the Annenburg Challenge, and with ACORN. One of many, the article “Inside Obama’s ACORN” best details the organization’s true history, intent, and Obama’s connection with it.

Any spinning Obama and his campaign have done notwithstanding, Mr. Kurtz has done his homework. He cites many sources for his articles. One of those mentioned in “Inside…” is an LA Times article, which quotes ACORN’s Madeleine Talbot:

” ‘He got people to vote with their feet’ on the issue, organizer Madeleine Talbot said. At the time, Talbot worked at the social action group ACORN and initially considered Obama a competitor. But she became so impressed with his work that she invited him to help train her staff.”

Perhaps Obama and Company intend to play the careful parsing of words game on this issue. It’s wildly reminiscent of “It depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is.” However, this one doesn’t pass “the smell test”. Mr. Kurtz’s article begins with, “What if Barack Obama’s most important radical connection has been hiding in plain sight all along?” Mr. Kurtz may not know how right he was. Unbelievably, on the Obama campaign site, there is a “Community Blog” post by a Sam Graham-Felsen dated February 21, 2008, which details, among other things, how Obama himself, addressing ACORN leaders in November, 2007 said:

“I’ve been fighting alongside ACORN on issues you care about my entire career.  Even before I was an elected official, when I ran Project Vote voter registration drive in Illinois, ACORN was smack dab in the middle of it, and we appreciate your work.”

The unbridled arrogance of Mr. Obama, his campaign, and the media truly leaves one speechless. None of these superior beings apparently anticpates that any of us know how to read or work our way around a search engine.

It is not surprising that the tip-toeing through the tulips on the ACORN issue is in full swing, considering the recent public outrage at the possibility of additional ACORN funding being slipped into the recent Bailout Bill and rapidly mounting reports of voter fraud by the organization.

The community organizations element of ACORN is the official entity currently embroiled in voter registration fraud in twelve states throughout the country. ACORN’s Political Director in Ohio, Mari Engelhardt, admitted on Tuesday, October 7, that it couldn’t “perfectly” prevent fraud. ACORN attorney Teresa James admitted, “We do not have the resources to know if a particular card is fictitious.”

Late this evening (Oct. 9), a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals judge issued a temporary restraining order against Ohio Attorney General Jennifer Brunner because, to paraphrase the information relayed by Greta Van Susteren during her show, On the Record, “Brunner is not doing enough to investigate voter fraud.” The Attorney General intends to appeal the ruling. Despite my extensive efforts to discover detailed information about the ruling, there is nothing as of yet available online.

Apparently, all of the above concerns prompted House of Representatives Minority Leader from Ohio, John Boehner, to call today for all federal funding to ACORN to stop as well as for a prohibition against any candidates for federal office contracting with ACORN for campaign work.

Obviously, the outcome of the voter fraud problems are yet to be determined as are any actions that result from Sen. Boehner’s proposals. The second appeal from Boehner results directly from the fact that Barack Obama, despite denying any connection with ACORN, contracted with Citizen’s Services, Inc, a subsidiary of ACORN for services rendered to his campaign in the amount of $800,000. As an article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on August 22, 2008, details, Citizen’s Services, Inc. was described on an ACORN publication in 2006 as “‘ACORN’s campaign services entity”‘. Besides ACORN’s own publication, the article also details that the headquarters of Citizen’s Services, Inc., are listed as existing at the same address as ACORN’s national headquarters. As the links above note, there is ample information available that confirms the assertion is true. I intend to spend further time looking at the address, 1024 Elysian Fields, New Oreleans, LA, and for further newinformation on ACORN and Citizen’s Services, Inc., as my researching their addresses reveals a large number of other organizations at the same address, which must mean this is a huge building or there are some questions that need to be raised. Further, the tax-exempt database I linked for the ACORN address above displays that ACORN keeps its money in an offshore bank account in the Virgin Islands, which I find just plain odd.

It is clear that Citizen’s Services and ACORN are essentially one and the same. The Obama for America campaign initially reported a varied list of services that the group was supposed to have performed (see the sidebar in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article linked above) that seem curiously out of place, considering the nature of the organization. The campaign ultimately revised its reports, citing simple filing error. The revision is to report the services of Citizen’s as “field work”.

Not only is it disturbing that Mr. Obama and his campaign believe that denying any connection to ACORN is plausible, it is disturbing that the ACORN entity in Louisiana appears to be registered as the incorporated housing entity. It is troubling because the organization receives federal funds and calls in to question why this federally funded group would have any connection with an affliate that performs campaign services. There is a clear conflict of interest, at the very least. ACORN, in any form, having been the recipient of tax dollars, should not be working for any political candidates nor should it be endorsing them. The left-wing publication The Nation, proudly crowed on February 23, 2008, that ACORN’s PAC had given Obama it’s “important endorsement”. Yes, in addition to ACORN’s many other tentacles, the organization seems to have a Political Action Committee. The above mentioned “Community Blog” is actually a report of ACORN’s endorsement of Obama for President.

The only relationship Obama publicly owns in regards to ACORN is his work as an attorney for them in suing the Justice Dept. per the Motor Voter Law. Besides all of the other connections, it appears that there is another legal case Mr. Obama has failed to mention.

In 1994, Obama was one of the attorneys listed on a lawsuit against Citibank in which the plaintiffs claim the bank was engaged in “red-lining” or refusing to grant mortgages to people in particular neighborhoods in Chicago.

Clicking here will allow you to see actual final documents in the case. It is a .PDF file.

Clicking here will allow you to see detailed records of the case at a site called “The Civil Rights Litigation Clearing House”

Note that the case is entitled “Buycks-Roberson v. Citibank Fed. Sav. Bank”. Due to the nature of such a case, which, to the best of my understanding, requires an individual private citizen or citizens as plaintiffs, and not a non-profit organization, ACORN’s name is not listed anywhere in the documentation. In order for the plaintiff to have standing in the case, they have had to have been damaged. Since ACORN as an entity doesn’t apply for mortgages on private homes for itself, it cannot sue banks, and so the organization most likely found some victims to prove its point.

Even if this particular case has no connection whatever to ACORN, and that looks most likely not plausible at this stage, it is clearly a tactic straight out of the ACORN playbook. There is no denying that Mr. Obama engaged in filing a lawsuit that had the same purpose as pushing for more and more people to be granted loans who couldn’t afford them. These kinds of measures share not only the same purpose, they had the same effect: the collapse of the sub-prime lending market, in addition to terrible monetary policy by the FED, have led us to the current financial crisis.

Citibank likely rejected loan applications for homes in the neighborhoods that were “red-lined” because they were graded as areas for high-risk of default or were of market values that were so low, the costs of establishing and servicing mortgages for homes in those areas exceeded any potential profit. In other words, Citibank was likely employing sound business practice and attempting to avoid granting mortgage loans to people who they had deemed were at high risk for default.

Lawsuits like Buycks-Roberson v. Citibank directly contributed to forcing banks to grant risky mortgages. It again, is not surprising that Obama makes no mention of any such measures taken by “community organizations” or attorneys that helped to lead to the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Instead, he blames the Bush policies and capitalism. There is no question that Pres. Bush, his Treasury Secretary, and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board deserve much blame for the current crisis, but the entire strategy of giving loans to people who couldn’t afford them, gets at least half of the blame.

Besides his involvement in the Citibank suit, Obama received $105,849 from Fannie Mae and its employees since being elected to the Senate in 2006. That makes him the #3 recipient on the list. He is only topped by Connecticut Sen. Dodd at $133,900 and Massuchusetts Sen. John Kerry at $111,000. The list actually records all donations received from 1989-2008. Dodd has been in office since 1981, meaning the amount he has received may have been spread out over the last seven years, and the same is true for Sen. Kerry, who has also been in office for much longer than the term of the report. Sen. Obama has been campaigning for much of his first term in the Senate, and has reportedly spent 141 actually serving in Washington, D.C., since taking office. That means he received $756 in contributions from Fannie Mae and its employees for every day he served.

It’s hard to imagine that kind of money has no influence on a politician’s policy decisions. Further, it causes one to wonder why Fannie Mae executives and employees thought the Senator was so worthwhile an investment? Could it be that the continued reckless practices of out-of-control lending were concepts he particularly endorsed? Put together with his involvement the Citibank suit, tax policies of forced “fairness”, belief that healthcare is a “right”, and intent to tax businesses at high rates, it doesn’t take a leap to understand that Fannie Mae would find a friend in Barack Obama.

The questions that beg asking are: Where is the media to ask these questions? Why didn’t they dig up the information about the Citibank suit?

Keating 5 Prosecutor Bob Bennett Speaks 10/6: McCain Exonerated

Keating 5 Prosecutor Bob Bennett, self-acknowledged Democrat, spoke with attorney Mark Levin about the investigation on Levin’s radio show Monday, October 6.

(The following is a transcript of the portion of the interview that is pertinent to the Keating 5 case. For a full transcript of the entire interview, which also includes an interesting conversation about the Iran-Contra scandal, visit this post. For audio of the full show, which Levin posts to his website go to marklevinshow.com.)

Mark: Well, first of all, your book, In the Ring: Trials of a Washington Lawyer. We’ve linked to that on marklevin.com. It’s a terrific book and that is why I want to talk to you.

Bob: Thanks, Mark, yeah.

Mark: You have a chapter on the Keating 5. And Bob, this is very important, now, because, people are bringing up, i don’t want to drag you into politics, but people are bringing up William Ayers, and suddenly this Keating 5 thing pops up again. Why don’t you tell us, give us a thumbnail sketch of what happened there and what was the deal about John McCain.

Bob: I’ll stick to the public record. What my role was – I was hired by a bi-partisan Senate Ethics Committee to investigate what was known as “The Keating 5″.  And in essence, what it was, was that there was something called the Direct Investment Rule which Charles Keating was opposed to. What it did was it basically said that Savings and Loans, which he owned one, couldn’t, were limited in where they could invest their money. Senator DiConcini scheduled a meeting with several Senators  to meet with the head of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board and pressure them.

And, Senator McCain attended that meeting. And one thing led to another and the Ethics Committee conducted an investigation. And I investigated it for a long, long time, well over a year. For the purpose of determining whether or not the Senators, including McCain, violated any standards, rules, ethical prohibitions. And at the end of the investigation, I concluded that Senator McCain and Senator Glenn should be exonerated, that is, that there should be no further action against them, but that was rejected by the Committee and there were some twenty-six days of public hearings.

As you know, Mark, ’cause on the occasions we’ve met, I- we argued some. I’m a Democrat, as you know. But, I had to call it the way the evidence dictated, and I called it that John McCain did nothing wrong. How Heflin, who at the time, was the Chairman of the Committee, was very concerned that there be twenty-six days of hearings with only Democrats in “the docks”, so to speak, so my recommendation about exonerating Senators Glenn and McCain was rejected and we went forward. But… it’s….and at the end of the day, it was pretty clear, from all the evidence, that there was no violation by Senator McCain.

I’m sorry to be so long but that’s in a nutshell, what happened.

Mark: Well, it’s important, because it’s a long time ago, we have five and a half million people listening and we gotta get this right, Bob. And, it seems to me, that based on what you’re saying, based on what I’ve read in your book, and what you’ve said before, frankly, that he was thrown into this for political reasons, and it’s being raised again, you don’t have to answer the last part, I’m commenting, it’s being raised now for political reasons. John McCain is not an unethical man, can you, can we agree on that?

Bob: Let me say this: from all the evidence, he’s not a friend of mine, although I guess, in the spirit of full disclosure, years after the Keating case, just this past year, he hired me as a lawyer, to represent him in connection with this dispute about lobbying he was having with the New York Times. But, at the time I made my findings, I was totally independent, and I’m not a surrogate of his in this political…. You know, I represent too many people on both sides of the aisle. But the direct, that as background, I certainly saw nothing in my investigation that would call into question, John McCain’s ethics. When he learned that there had been a referral to the Justice Department by the regulators, uh, he withdrew from any assistance to Keating and in fact, got into a big argument with Charles Keating, who called McCain “a wimp”, which did not sit well with the Senator. So, I certainly, based on my investigation in that case, saw nothing to call in to question John McCain’s ethics.

Mark: And you’ve represented, you’re right, people of all political stripes and so on.