(Sean Whaley/Nevada News Bureau) – Secretary of State Ross Miller said today a rumor circulating that ACORN is involved in the 2010 Census is false and could hamper Nevada’s efforts to count all of its residents, which in turn could cost the state millions in federal funding.
“The deliberate dissemination of this misinformation suggests that the involvement of ACORN would somehow taint the census process, and could cause some people to not respond to the census, thereby costing Nevadans tens of millions of dollars in federal funding,” Miller said.
A Washoe County Republican said today the ACORN reference was unfortunately and inappropriately included in a Nevada State Republican Party news release soliciting census workers.
Reno resident and Republican Ralph McMullen, who is working with the Census Bureau to recruit people to help ensure all Nevadans are counted in Census 2010, explained how the ACORN rumor got started in Nevada.
McMullen said both the Democratic and Republican parties are working to assist in the census effort in a nonpartisan manner to ensure everyone in Nevada is counted.
McMullen, an assistant manager of recruitment for Census workers in Nevada, said his recruitment information was forwarded to the Nevada State Republican Party, which sent out a release seeking people to work on the census count. The individual who prepared the state GOP release included the ACORN comment, which McMullen said was unfortunate.
“He thought it would help encourage people to participate,” McMullen said. “I called him up and chewed him out and he apologized.”
State GOP Party Chairman Chris Comfort said the purpose of including the ACORN statement was to raise the level of awareness among state Republicans of the need for census takers to assist with the count. No apology is in order, nor was he aware of any apology offered by a state party staff member, he said.
“We’re fighting the good fight,” Comfort said. “The statement was designed to raise the level of awareness of what happened with ACORN in the past so it doesn’t happen again.”
Comfort was praiseworthy of the work and commitment of McMullen, but said he is not apologetic about working to unseat U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in the 2010 election.
“We’re not apologizing for anything we do in fighting this war to take out Harry Reid,” he said. “We want to make sure Republicans have an opportunity to serve in a common sense way. One way to do that is to serve with the Census Bureau.”
ACORN, or the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, was involved in Nevada voter registration efforts for the 2008 presidential election. But the group was investigated in Nevada for alleged fraudulent voter registration efforts.
A trial on charges the group illegally paid canvassers to register voters is scheduled for the organization and a former ACORN member later this year. Another member of the group pleaded guilty to reduced charges and is expected to testify. ACORN could lose its nonprofit status in Nevada if found guilty.
“The federal relationship notwithstanding, it’s ridiculous to think that my office would be using ACORN for any purpose,” Miller said. “It was my office that conducted the voter registration investigation and served search warrants on ACORN in October 2008, resulting in felony charges being filed against the group and some of its members.”
Miller said a mass-circulated email prompted the rumor. It told recipients: “Let’s make sure that ACORN isn’t the only organization with people collecting our census information!” The email was first reported in the RalstonFlash on Monday.
The director of the U.S. Census Bureau sent a letter to the national president of ACORN in September 2009, in which he severed any relationship between ACORN and the bureau. In the letter, Census Director Robert Groves said: “. . . we no longer have confidence that our national partnership agreement is being effectively managed through your many local offices . . . we therefore have decided to terminate the partnership.”
Miller said that at no time during preparations for the 2010 Census has the state had any relationship with ACORN, or discussed the possibility of any such relationship.