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Mo GOP continues effort to link Carnahan with ACORN

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 2, 2009 - The Missouri Republican Party announced Thursday afternoon that it has filed an open-records request with Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, "seeking documents pertaining to ACORN or its affiliated organizations and all contacts'' between Carnahan and ACORN.

“Our request will shed light on why ACORN’s ongoing and well-documented voter registration fraud merited no response in her 205-page analysis of the 2008 elections,” said the Missouri GOP's new executive director, Lloyd Smith. “We believe it is important to determine if Secretary of State Carnahan’s cozy relationship with ACORN has clouded her judgment.”

Carnahan's spokeswoman cited passages Thursday in the report that she said showed, in fact, indirect references to ACORN and other groups conducting voter registration drives.

Among other things, Carnahan's report recommends that the Legislature "increase the maximum penalty for those who misrepresent themselves on voter registration applications."

ACORN has been a popular target of Republicans for years, because of incidents where people working for ACORN -- including a number in Missouri -- were arrested and/or convicted for submitting fraudulent voter registrations. National ACORN officials have emphasized that their own staff usually have uncovered the bogus cards and turned in the suspects.

Smith cited a report in the conservative Washington Times this week that U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan, "may pursue hearings in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.  According to the Washington Times, Conyers will investigate crimes “ranging from voter fraud to a mob-style ‘protection’ racket.”

Smith accused Carnahan of trying to "whitewash the existence of voter fraud in Missouri.  After four years in office, she has yet to clean up the state’s election system.”

In Carnahan's case, the GOP effort to link her with ACORN appears to be tied to her bid for the U.S. Senate in 2010.

A Carnahan spokeswoman said Thursday of the open-records request, "The Secretary of State’s office believes it is important that government be open and transparent to Missouri citizens. Our office has always complied with the sunshine law, and responds to all requests received by this office. The request received today will be treated no differently."

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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