Right tries, fails to tar Obama appointee with ACORN

Conservatives' attack on new head of Corporation for National and Community Service based on shoddy reporting

Published February 17, 2010 3:30PM (EST)

For some people on the right, it seems, there's nothing that can't be connected in some way to nefarious doings by ACORN. Matthew Vadum, who works for the Capital Research Center and writes for outlets like the American Spectator and David Horowitz's Newsreal, is one of those people.

Vadum's latest ACORN-related exposé, written for Newsreal, had to do with Patrick Corvington, who President Obama appointed (and the Senate recently confirmed) to head the Corporation for National and Community Service. Vadum dubbed Corvington a "friend of ACORN," writing:

Corvington was a senior official at the left-wing Annie E. Casey Foundation of Baltimore, Md., which granted funding to ACORN and other radical groups during his tenure. If Corvington didn’t share the views of the foundation, which promotes racial disharmony and opposes placing juveniles charged with crimes in pretrial detention, he almost certainly couldn’t have gotten a job there.

Since 2001 the Annie E. Casey Foundation has pumped at least $1,705,500 into the ACORN network, according to philanthropy databases.

This little scoop got picked up by the Washington Examiner's Mark Hemingway, who commented, "Democrats just can't stay away from ACORN. Even as scandal piles on top of scandal, they continue to embrace the organization." And, in turn, Hemingway's item was picked up by the Drudge Report.

Thing is, though, the attack was based on bad information. For one thing, Vadum omitted some relevant details. The Annie E. Casey Foundation gives out a huge amount of money every year -- according to tax records, it gave out more than $167 million in grants in 2008 alone. The amount it gave to ACORN over a seven-year period doesn't even amount to 10 percent of that. Moreoever, the foundation's public affairs manager, Sue Lin Chong, says that it no longer even gives money to ACORN -- all of the grants given to the organization ended by early 2009, and the foundation ceased grant-making to it then.

And here's the real kicker: By e-mail, Chong told Salon, "Patrick had absolutely no role whatsoever in approving any grants to ACORN. His program area, Leadership Development, has never made any ACORN grants."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

MORE FROM Alex Koppelman

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