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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Marco Rubio presses Charlie Crist on ACORN



UPDATE: Crist responds (sort of). See the jump.

Dear Governor Crist: 

As you are no doubt aware, the community organizing group Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) is now under intense scrutiny for recent reports of its involvement in questionable behavior and potentially illegal activity in several states.

In addition to the damning video reports of ACORN employees now familiar to most Floridians, just last week the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office announced that arrest warrants were issued for 11 former ACORN employees accused of faking voter registration cards. While it is commendable that ACORN assisted in the investigations that led to the arrests, it begs the question: why were so many people capable of these crimes working for ACORN in the first place?

Last Friday, the Census Bureau severed ties with ACORN. On Tuesday, U.S. Senators Bill Nelson and George LeMieux joined 81 other Senators in an overwhelming and bipartisan vote to strip federal funding from ACORN. Just yesterday, Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger in California and Tim Pawlenty in Minnesota took similar action, asking officials to investigate ACORN’s behavior in their respective states and prevent state taxpayer funding of the group.

Based on the mounting evidence against ACORN and the serious questions surrounding this organization, I respectfully ask that you follow the lead of the other elected officials I mentioned above and take immediate steps to initiate a thorough investigation into ACORN’s activities in Florida, including a detailed accounting of what state funds, if any, ACORN may be receiving. If it is discovered that they are receiving state funds, I believe further steps should be taken to cut off any taxpayer funding of ACORN. 

The St. Petersburg Times also reported yesterday that your office may have partnered with ACORN in the past on several initiatives, including your 2007 effort to restore voting rights to convicted felons in Florida. If you partnered with ACORN, I have no reason to doubt you did so unaware of ACORN’s propensity for questionable activity, and with what you believed at the time to be the best interests of Floridians at heart. However, given the recent revelations about ACORN, I believe it is now in the best interest of all Floridians for your office to provide a thorough accounting of its relationship with ACORN and what, if any, influence ACORN may have had in any actions you have taken on behalf of the people of Florida. 

Lastly, during last year’s presidential election, despite what now seems to be a prescient chorus of concerned parties asking for an investigation into ACORN’s election-related activities, you insisted that you were unconcerned with ACORN’s activities. In light of the recent allegations against ACORN, I suggest you reconsider your position, demand a full investigation of ACORN’s election-related activities, and take whatever steps available to you to prevent ACORN from engaging in voter registration and other election-related activities until the questions surrounding this organization are resolved. 

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.


Marco Rubio


Here is the response we got from Erin Isaac, Crist's spokeswoman

Our Office of Citizens Services responded to approximately 100 constituent inquiries today regarding ACORN, including that of Mr. Rubio. The text of that response is below.

Thank you for contacting Governor Charlie Crist. The Governor appreciates your concerns about the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) and asked that I respond on his

According to the Governor's Budget Director ACORN has not received taxpayer funds through the legislative appropriation process.

As you may know, an investigation began in July 2008 into allegations of voter registration fraud. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has been deeply involved in this investigation. Thanks to Florida's voter verification laws there is no evidence of fraudulent voter registrations resulting in unverified individuals being permitted to vote.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact Governor Crist.


Warren Davis

Office of Citizen Services

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 2:18pm]


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