Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Obama’s ACORN

The funding of the Housing Trust Fund, the slush fund that feeds ACORN and La Raza, is out. You can thank House Republicans for enough obstructionism to get that result. Other changes made to the final version of the bailout, according to a source on the Hill, were the removal of several provisions:Provision to provide unions and other activist groups with proxy access for corporate boards
Provision to mandate shareholder votes on compensation issues (union priority)
Diversion of funds into a housing fund to support left-wing activist groups like ACORN
A provision to allow trial judges to arbitrarily adjust mortgages, creating bonanza for trial lawyers
A provision to require the government to sell to state and local governments at a discount homes the government acquires as a result of foreclosure
It also suspends mark-to-market rules and requires a study on their effects on the collapse.

Time to crack Obama’s ACORN (Repost) (Updated)
September 26, 2008
Presumptive presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)’s “most questionable tie is to a leftist organization called ACORN,” NancyA reported July 5, 2008, at No Quarter.His connection to this group begins with a woman named Madeleine Talbot. She embraced Obama and taught him the ropes. He remained a part of this group’s training cadre. Obama taught leadership conferences for the group while working for Miner, Barnhill & Galland. His connections don’t end there. Obama actively sought and received the endorsement by ACORN for his local campaigns. He has now done the same in his bid for the USA presidency.Between 1993 and 2001, while Obama served on the board of directors of the Woods Fund of Chicago, ACORN, a “left wing voter registration group and to a partnership for constructing low income housing,” was the recipient of Woods Fund grant money.Should Sen. Obama be elected to the presidency, John Fund wrote July 12, 2008, in the Wall Street Journal, “he would become not just the head of the Democratic Party but also the inspiration for a large number of liberal groups” like ACORN.“Some of them would no doubt lobby him to hand out taxpayer grants and contracts for their nonpolitical ‘community’ efforts,” Fund wrote.Indeed, Mr. Obama has extensive connections with the granddaddy of activist groups, Acorn (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), which has gotten millions in government grants for its low-income housing programs. In 1992, Acorn hired Mr. Obama to run a voter registration effort. He later became a trainer for the group, as well as its lawyer in election law cases.
Acorn’s political arm has endorsed Mr. Obama while its “voter education” arm has pledged to spend $35 million to register people this fall — despite a history of vote fraud scandals that have led to guilty pleas by many Acorn employees.The housing bill now before Congress would set up a slush fund for community organizations such as Acorn. But Acorn has gone quiet in its lobbying for the bill this week with the news that one of its employees — [Dale Rathke,] the brother of Acorn founder Wade Rathke — had stolen nearly $1 million from the group. Mr. Rathke decided not to alert law enforcement or the organization’s board, and kept his brother employed at Acorn until last month. “Is this the kind of group we want getting taxpayer money?” asks Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.)In the April 29, 2008, Wall Street Journal, Fund wrote that Barack Obama came to Chicago “as a community organizer in the 1980s and quickly developed a name for himself as a litigator in voting cases.”In 1995, then GOP Gov. Jim Edgar refused to implement the federal “Motor Voter” law. Allowing voters to register using only a postcard and blocking the state from culling voter rolls, he argued, could invite fraud. Mr. Obama sued on behalf of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, and won. Acorn later invited Mr. Obama to help train its staff; [...]Acorn’s efforts to register voters have been scandal-prone. St. Louis, Mo., officials found that in 2006 over 1,000 addresses listed on its registrations didn’t exist. “We met twice with Acorn before their drive, but our requests completely fell by the wayside,” said Democrat Matt Potter, the city’s deputy elections director. Later, federal authorities indicted eight of the group’s local workers. One of the eight pleaded guilty last month.In Seattle, local officials invalidated 1,762 Acorn registrations. Felony charges were filed against seven of its workers, some of whom have criminal records. Prosecutors say Acorn’s oversight of its workers was virtually nonexistent. To avoid prosecution, Acorn agreed to pay $25,000 in restitution.Despite this record – and polls that show clear majorities of blacks and Hispanics back voter ID laws – Mr. Obama continues to back Acorn. They both joined briefs urging the Supreme Court to overturn Indiana’s law.In his July 12, 2008, article Fund commented that, due to the “leading role” ACORN, and “other liberal groups”, may play in electing Obama, these groups “deserve a closer look now, before their influence and possibly their clout grow dramatically after the November election.”An Untrustworthy Housing Fund — Housing bill has likely ACORN slush FundPosted by John Berlau
It’s almost a Washington truism that anytime Congress creates a “trust fund” for a certain policy issue, the money flowing into this “trust fund” will be diverted to something else. Government “trust funds” are set up with special taxes and fees so that they will be less subject to normal budget constraints — but this makes them all the more desirable for future Congresses to divert their proceeds to spend on pork.
Payroll tax money in the Social Security Trust Fund, for instance, has for decades been emptied out to fund general government programs. Similarly, the Highway Trust Fund set up to build and improve roads from the federal gasoline tax has also seen raids on its purse for other priorities.
But the granddaddy of all phony government trust funds may be soon enacted in housing bailout legislation before Congress. The so-called Affordable Housing Trust Fund — part of the legislation that passed the Senate Banking Committee in May and is poised to come to the Senate floor as early as this week — is almost set up from the beginning to be diverted to purposes other than affordable housing. The holes in this “trust fund” would allow the money to be easily siphoned off to liberal activist groups such as Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) for lobbying and even political campaigning.
Long a priority of groups on the Left, the “trust fund” — also called the “affordable housing fund” — would get its revenues from a legislatively fixed share of the surpluses of the government’s Federal Housing Administration or the profits from the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The latest version — in the housing and GSE oversight bill that cleared the Senate Banking Committee in May — would establish the fund by taking 1.2 basis points of interest from Fannie and Freddie’s loan portfolio — about $500 million a year.
Enacting an off-budget funding entity for housing has long been a goal of Rep. Barney Frank, and since he became chairman of the powerful House Financial Services Comittee when the Democrats took Congress back a year and a half ago, he has inserted several versions of the “trust fund” into many housing bills. “Given our severely constrained fiscal realities,” Frank has argued, there needs to be “a low income housing trust fund that will be paid for in ways that do not draw from federal tax revenues.”
Yet given how important low-income housing supposedly is to Frank and other advocates, there are relatively few safeguards to ensure that most of the Trust Fund proceeds are actually spent on affordable housing. There are prohibitions on using the funds for lobbying and political activity, but the bills — including the Banking Committee package — contain virtually no teeth in enforcing these bans. There are no explicit requirements for recipients of the grants to fill out timesheets for housing activity, or restrictions on groups using grant money to pay employees who also happen to do other things — such as lobbying and political campaigning. And there are really no penalties other than being forced to give the money back and being disqualified for a new grant.
These safeguards are important, because some of the biggest “housing advocates” also have politics in their portfolios. These groups would include the ACORN and the National Council of La Raza, both of which provide housing counseling as well as lobby for liberal causes and politicians.
ACORN has an especially dubious histrory concerning both election fraud and misuse of federal funds. Several ACORN workers have been indicted and/or convicted of voter registration fraud with phony signatures. In Washington state, seven ACORN employess were indicted in what the Democratic Secretary of State called the worst case of voter fraud in the state’s history. As Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund reported, “The list of ‘voters’ registered in Washington state included former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, … actress Katie Holmes and nonexistent people with nonsensical names such as Stormi Bays and Fruto Boy.”
And ACORN has also been sanctioned specifically for misuse of federal housing funds. In 1994, the ACORN Housing Corporation (AHC) received a grant from the newly created Americorps to assist low-income families at finding housing. In applying for the grant, the AHC claimed its activities were completley separate from ACORN.
But one year later, the Americorps Inspector General would testify that “AHC used Americorps grant funds to benefit ACORN either directly or indirectly.” She found several instances of cost-shifting from ACORN’s lobbying group to the housing entity, and also found several instances of steering recipients of housing counseling into ACORN memberships. (This report by the Employment Policies Institute contains the Inspector General’s testimony in full.)
Given this history of the fungibility of housing grant money, Republicans had so far blocked the creation of the new housing trust fund. No bill containing the fund had been passed by the Senate, and White House issued a statement containing veto threat last fall, citing — among other things — concern that the fund would “be susceptible to political influences that could compromise the goals of assisting as many low income families in need as possible.”
But just after Senate Banking’s ranking Republican Richard Shelby announced he had reached a “compromise” with committee chairman Chris Dodd on the housing fund and other issues, most committee Republicans followed suit. The bill passed the committee 19-2 just before the Memorial Day recess.
Part of the “compromise” that Dodd and Shelby announced was that money from the “trust fund” would be used to fund the bill’s main action of bailing out troubled homeowners through FHA guarantees of modified loans. This way, there would be somewhat less direct costs to taxpayers than in Frank’s House bill, which relies solely on general tax revenues for the bailout. But as they were rushing out for recess, perhaps the GOP members didn’t notice the many devils in the details of the Senate Banking package.
In addition to unrelated items such as a bizarre requirement for a fingerprint registry for much of the mortgage industry, the bill hardly gave any ground on the trust fund. Only part of the revenue would go toward the bailout, the rest would continue to go to grants that could find their way to groups like ACORN. And after two years, all of the money would go to the fungible housing grant.
As described by a press release from the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), a group that has long pushed for the trust fund, “The bill as passed … diverts half of the money intended for the housing trust fund in its first year and 25% in its second year. After that 100% of the funds go into the housing trust fund.”
Although Frank has been described as angry about the compromise, the fact is the committee has already given him about four-fifths of what he has always proposed. The NLIHC press release calls the Senate Banking bill a “milestone” and boasts that “the National Housing Trust Fund Campaign has moved one step closer to accomplishing its core goal: establishing a housing trust fund at the federal level with a dedicated source of revenue.”
But what we’re really a step closer to an unaccountable slush fund that could be used for dubious purposes. Advocates have never really explained a policy rationale for having an off-budget entitity for housing. At the very least, the “trust fund” proceeds would go to what states and the federal government are already doing. Frank has cited assistance to renters as a justification. But as the White House noted in its statement last fall, the federal Home Investment Partnerships Program of the Department of Housing and Urban Development already serves this goal, making a trust fund for this purpose “largely redundant.”
Forcing Fannie and Freddie to divert money also threatens the very solvency reforms contained in the same Senate banking package. As Heritage Foundation economist David John notes, “It is very worrying for Congress to treat the GSEs as a piggy bank that can fund specific projects without going through the normal appropriations process.” The White House statement argued that this would create “an undue and counterproductive reliance” on Fannie and Freddie.

(The Politico) Earlier today, when House Republican leadership framed its opposition to the bailout bill as it currently stands, a principal objection focused on the group ACORN, which the e-mail alert called "the scandal-tarnished 'community organizing group'" -- with scare quotes in the original.

They're referring to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, a group generally allied with Democrats and derided by the GOP as corrupt, inefficient and a front-group for Democratic efforts on the ground.

In issuing the statement, House leaders are reflecting -- and also feeding -- a reaction to the provision that has exploded in the last day or more. Our colleague Ben Smith says he's gotten more than a dozen anti-ACORN e-mails in just the last few hours. The viral uprising is both organic and institutionally driven. Prominent bloggers have fed the flames and so has the Wall Street Journal editorial page; several of the e-mails sent to Smith reference a House leadership alert on the "ACORN Slush Fund" and others refer to the Journal opinion. On Thursday night, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told The Crypt that his friend Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) opposes the provision.

"The draft bill includes a left-wing giveaway that would force taxpayers to bankroll a slush fund for a discredited ally of the Democratic Party," reads one leadership alert. "At issue is ACORN, an organization fraught with controversy for, among other scandals, its fraudulent voter registration activities on behalf of Democratic candidates. Rather than returning any profits made in the long-term from the economic rescue package, Democrats want to first reward their radical allies at ACORN for their (often illegal) help in getting Democrats elected to office."

In the end, how much of the bailout's potential profits are earmarked for ACORN? "None. Absolutely none. All funds would go to state and local governments," said Steven Adamske, spokesman for Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), the chairman of the Financial Services Committee and a lead negotiator.

The opposition has grown so intense that critics refer to the measure in arcane legislative lingo. Erick Erickson titled a Friday morning blog post at RedState: "Section 105(d) of the Bailout Must Go."

Here's the relevant language:


DEPOSITS. Not less than 20 percent of any profit realized on the sale of each troubled asset purchased under this Act shall be deposited as provided in paragraph (2).

USE OF DEPOSITS. Of the amount referred to in paragraph (1) 65 percent shall be deposited into the Housing Trust Fund established under section 1338 of the Federal Housing Enterprises Regulatory Reform Act of 1992 (12 U.S.C. 4568); and 35 percent shall be deposited into the Capital Magnet Fund established under section 1339 of that Act (12 U.S.C. 4569).

REMAINDER DEPOSITED IN THE TREASURY. All amounts remaining after payments under paragraph (1) shall be paid into the General Fund of the Treasury for reduction of the public debt.

And here's Frank's one-page summary of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and to find the relevant bill go here and search for H.R. 2895.

State and local governments can then dole out the funds and could send money to ACORN if they so choose and if the organization's efforts meet the standards set out in the law. For their stand against the provision, Adamske tweaked House Republicans, who have long called for more state control of federal funds.

"Are they worried that the Governor of Alaska and the Mayor of Wasilla will give money to Acorn?" he asked. 

Regardless, House Republicans are saying that unless the possibility of ACORN seeing any money from this bailout is eliminated, there's no deal. "Doling out favors to ACORN and other liberal special interest groups are a non-starter for House Republicans," said Behner spokesman Kevin Smith. "If Rep. Frank wants to keep ACORN in the bill he can secure the necessary Democratic votes for passage because he'll need every one of them."

The housing bill signed Wednesday by President George W. Bush will provide a stream of billions of dollars for distressed homeowners and communities and the nonprofit groups that serve them. Brody Mullins/The Wall Street Journal
Acorn volunteers registered people to vote in late July.
One of the biggest likely beneficiaries, despite Republican objections: Acorn, a housing advocacy group that also helps lead ambitious voter-registration efforts benefiting Democrats.
Acorn -- made up of several legally distinct groups under that name -- has become an important player in the Democrats' effort to win the White House. Its voter mobilization arm is co-managing a $15.9 million campaign with the group Project Vote to register 1.2 million low-income Hispanics and African-Americans, who are among those most likely to vote Democratic. Technically nonpartisan, the effort is one of the largest such voter-registration drives on record.
The organization's main advocacy group lobbied hard for passage of the housing bill, which provides nearly $5 billion for affordable housing, financial counseling and mortgage restructuring for people and neighborhoods affected by the housing meltdown. A third Acorn arm, its housing corporation, does a large share of that work on the ground.
Acorn's multiple roles show how two fronts of activism -- housing for the poor and voter mobilization -- have converged closely in this election year. The fortunes of both parties will hinge in part on their plans for addressing the fall of the nation's housing market and the painful economic slowdown. Some of the places buffeted worst by mounting foreclosures are states whose voters could swing the election. Five battleground states where Acorn has registration drives were among the top 10 states for foreclosure rates as of June: Colorado, Florida, Nevada, Michigan and Ohio.
Partly because of the role of Acorn and other housing advocacy groups, the White House and its allies in Congress resisted Democrats' plans to include money for a new affordable-housing trust fund and $4 billion in grants to restore housing in devastated neighborhoods. In the end, the money stayed in the bill; the White House saw little choice.
What most riles Republicans about the bill is the symbiotic relationship between the Democratic Party and the housing advocacy groups, of which Acorn is among the biggest. Groups such as the National Council of La Raza and the National Urban League also lobby to secure government-funded services for their members and seek to move them to the voting booth. Acorn has been singled out for criticism because of its reach, its endorsements of Democrats, and past flaws in its bookkeeping and voter-registration efforts that its detractors in Congress have seized upon.
Getty Images
Democratic Sen. Robert Casey Jr. joins members of Acorn in a rally at the Capitol in March. Acorn's voter-registration push has made it an important player in the Democrats' effort to win the White House.
Republicans critical of Acorn's roles say any money that it gets for housing makes it easier for the group to put money into voter drives. "These are taxpayer funds, in an indirect method, being used to subsidize political activism," says Rep. Jeb Hensarling, Texas Republican and chairman of the conservative House Republican Study Committee. "I'm sure they're not going out and registering any Republicans."
Democrats say Republicans are simply opposed to housing aid and voter registration for the poor. Acorn also has a political arm that has endorsed Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign. But other groups spanning the political spectrum, ranging from the environmentalist League of Conservation Voters to Republican-friendly faith-based groups and the National Rifle Association, also do voter registration. They often target like-minded voters while endorsing candidates through separate entities. The faith-based groups, like the housing groups, also have gotten public money.
"We're trying to empower people in our communities to improve their lives," says Acorn spokesman Charles Jackson. "That is through voter registration and helping them to save their homes." He dismisses the idea that housing aid helps voter efforts: "The funds don't intermingle," he says. "There are clear walls with Acorn."
Last week, while lawmakers were brokering the final deals ahead of Saturday's 72-13 Senate vote in favor of the housing bill, Acorn workers were in the midst of the organization's most ambitious voter drive.
Acorn worker Stephanie Willis was scouting for new voters in a seedy neighborhood of Aurora, Colo., a Denver suburb. Spotting a woman seated on a park bench, Mrs. Willis hustled over and thrust a clipboard and pen at her. Within minutes, Brenda Hernandez was a new registered voter. Mrs. Willis then handed Mrs. Hernandez a flier listing Acorn's housing and other services, and signed her up to be an Acorn member.
"Obama!" Mrs. Hernandez yelled, attempting to fist-bump Mrs. Willis, who already was scanning for other people to register.
Acorn's Mr. Jackson says that when the group registers voters, it also "aims to educate them on issues facing their communities" and tells them about its services. Other groups also recruit voters and members at the same time; laws for tax-exempt groups only prohibit them from promoting specific political parties.

Sen. Obama is especially reliant on registration drives, such as Acorn's with Project Vote, to help him win the White House. The Illinois Democrat draws his strongest support from blacks, Hispanics and young people, groups that are among the least likely to be registered. After law school, Sen. Obama was the director of Project Vote in Chicago. The Obama campaign, noting that interest groups routinely register voters and endorse candidates through separate efforts, emphasizes that it accepts no donations from the groups' political action committees.
Steering Money to Groups
Democrats on Capitol Hill have helped to steer millions of dollars in housing and other grants from the federal government toward Acorn and groups like it. The groups must qualify and compete for the money, which is typically doled out from the federal government to states and municipalities. The housing package includes a new, permanent source of affordable-housing money that congressional Democrats and grass-roots groups have sought for years. The Affordable Housing Trust Fund and the Capital Magnet Fund will be funded by a tax on mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored mortgage titans.

That tax eventually will channel upwards of $600 million annually in grants for developing and restoring housing, mostly as low-income rentals, available to Acorn and other groups. Democrats on Capitol Hill and housing groups say the housing-assistance money is vital to helping Americans hit hardest by what some call the largest drop in home values since the Great Depression. But they acknowledge the perception of political conflict in giving federal funds to an organization that does political work.
"We are guarding against it," said Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank in an interview. He secured the Affordable Housing Trust from his seat as chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. "We have a lot of restrictions in the bill" banning using the housing money for lobbying or political purposes, he said.
He added that housing-advocacy groups aren't unique in having an affinity for government officials who can steer money their way. "People who build affordable housing tend to support the Democrats...who support affordable housing," he said. "I am a lot less worried about this relationship than I am about the Pentagon and Lockheed."
Powerful Lobbying Tool
Acorn describes itself as the nation's largest grass-roots community organization, with more than 400,000 families organized into 1,200 neighborhood chapters in 110 cities. Over four decades, Acorn has turned its broad membership into a powerful lobbying tool. Its representatives are well-known in the marble halls of the Capitol, and press local, state and federal governments for "social justice" programs, such as raising the minimum wage and advocating for hospitals to provide more free care to those lacking insurance.

Few housing organizations have as wide a reach or as many housing counselors and programs that can win grants as Acorn Housing Corporation, the group's housing-aid effort.
It's difficult to track Acorn's finances because of its group of legally separate offshoots, nearly all of which use an address in New Orleans in their tax filings with the Internal Revenue Service. Project Vote, with which Acorn has a "joint-effort agreement" to do voter registration, also uses the New Orleans address on its IRS forms. Acorn is providing one-quarter of the effort's budget for this election, and the canvassers are members of Acorn's staff.
Acorn Housing Corporation, the group's housing-aid arm, has released a copy of its 2007 tax form, but the main group, National Acorn, won't release financial statements and isn't required to. Unlike several Acorn subsidiaries, it doesn't seek tax-exempt status. "We're a private organization; it's our members' business, basically," Mr. Jackson said.
Overall, the main national Acorn entities for which tax information is available -- including its Housing Corporation -- spent $14.7 million in 2006. That information is gathered from IRS filings submitted by a half-dozen separate entities. The filings show that Acorn Housing raised $6.9 million for its activities in 2006, of which $1.7 million, or nearly 25%, came from government grants.
Last year, as the housing crisis worsened, Acorn Housing raised $7.7 million, of which $2.8 million, or 36%, was from the government, according to a return supplied by the housing group. Acorn Housing's income pays for work including housing construction and renovation, and staff who counsel homeowners on avoiding foreclosures and who work with lenders on behalf of borrowers to restructure loans.
Project Vote says it spent $9.1 million on voter-registration activities in 2006, and $15 million in the presidential election year of 2004.
When Republicans controlled Congress, they doled out money from President Bush's faith-based initiatives to churches and religious groups that helped rally Republican voters. Now that Democrats are in charge of Congress, they control the spoils. But the GOP's Rep. Hensarling says he doesn't think organizations with political arms -- on either side -- should be allowed to receive government funds. "I wonder what Democrats would think if we were in the majority and we took taxpayer funds to subsidize the National Rifle Association's low-income housing fund," he says.
Missteps at Acorn
Acorn has had a number of missteps. This month its founder, Wade Rathke, resigned after news emerged that his brother Dale had embezzled nearly $1 million from Acorn and affiliated groups eight years ago -- information the group kept from law-enforcement authorities and most members. Dale Rathke left the organization only last month.
Late last year, a handful of Acorn canvassers in Washington state admitted that they had falsified voter registrations by illegally filling out hundreds of forms with names such as Dennis Hastert, Leon Spinks and Fruito Boy Crispila. In April, eight Acorn workers pleaded guilty to similar charges in Missouri for falsifying forms.
To reduce any incentive to commit fraud, Acorn currently pays canvassers a flat hourly rate of $8. Some other organizations pay canvassers by the number of registration forms they turn in.
Acorn's registration campaigns are part of a growing emphasis on voter mobilization in American politics. More than 20 million people filled out applications at voter-registration drives during the 2004 and 2006 elections -- three times as many during the previous two election cycles, according to an analysis of census data by the Brennan Center for Justice, a nonpartisan organization that tracks voter registration figures. This election is expected to exceed the 2004 record, with groups across the political spectrum forecasting they will surpass their previous efforts.
In the 2004 and 2006 elections, Acorn helped to register a total of 1.6 million new voters combined; this election, it aims to register 1.2 million more with Project Vote. Acorn also is helping to back an effort to register one million recent immigrants who are new citizens, and who tend to lean mostly toward Democrats.
Tina Sepulveda, a 23-year-old single mom canvassing in Aurora for the Project Vote effort, says she checks her forms to see how people will vote. "In a week, I get maybe six to nine Republicans. And I'm getting 20 people a day."
Last year, Acorn calculated that Denver and its suburbs held 150,000 eligible but unregistered Hispanics and African-Americans. To run the program, Acorn and Project Vote turned to Ben Hanna, a shy, tattooed 27-year-old, who wants to register at least half of that group.
Mr. Hanna hired 25 canvassers, seven quality-control people and a handful of managers to trawl parks, public-assistance agencies and liquor stores. The team registers about 2,000 people a week and overall has helped 52,000 people join the voting rolls.
One of his stars is the gregarious Mrs. Willis, the youngest of 12 siblings, who says she has signed up 2,000 people this year. With a daily goal of 25 new registered voters, Mrs. Willis needs to sign up four or five people an hour.
At her first stop, an agency that hands out food stamps, she cajoles a Hispanic woman into filling out a form. At a public pool, she kicks off her white Air Jordans and registers a Hispanic sunbather. She wades through the kiddie pool fishing for voters.
More than half of the unregistered people that Mrs. Willis approaches say they aren't allowed to vote. She tells convicted felons that state law allows them to vote once they are off parole.
After two hours, Mrs. Willis signs up her sixth voter, 77-year-old Andrew Hinojos. "I wasn't going to vote, but that lady right there, she can make anybody vote," says Mr. Hinojos, pointing toward Mrs. Willis. He promises to show up on Election Day.
Thanks to the House GOP’s intervention, the Paulson plan is also better than it would have been. Republicans helped to eliminate the Barney Frank-Chris Dodd slush fund for liberal housing lobbies; a plank to let judges shield deadbeat homeowners from bankruptcy laws; and a ploy to stack bank boards with union members.”

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