Exclusive: ACORN Responds to Voter Fraud Allegations

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," October 10, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

JAMIE COLBY, FOX NEWS GUEST HOST: And it's not just your money that's at risk tonight. There is breaking news, more breaking news about another thing that is so important to all of us, your vote. For the past few days, we've been reporting about a group called ACORN. Their members hit the streets to register low-income voters. And we can tell you tonight that the organization is currently under investigation for fraud or registration irregularities in at least 13 states. There are also questions that have surfaced about Senator Obama's possible ties to this group.

Well, joining us "On the Record" exclusively for his first interview, Scott Levenson is the national spokesperson for ACORN. And Scott, thank you very much for choosing us to talk to about this.

First of all, tell me about these investigations into ACORN. Every day, we hear new information about people who can't even remember how many times they were encouraged to actually register by ACORN representatives.

SCOTT LEVENSON, ACORN SPOKESMAN: Let's talk about what the real story here is because it's actually a great story. ACORN, along with Project Vote, registered 1.3 million folks over the last year. We saw record numbers of people interested and excited about this election in ways we never saw before. There are poor people and young people who are participating in this election in ways they never participated before. And that's our mission. Our mission is to enfranchise the disenfranchised and empower the disempowered.

COLBY: Well, if you're going to sign up...

LEVENSON: So we're...

COLBY: Real quick...

LEVENSON: ... Actually proud of the work we do.

COLBY: You have signed up a lot of voters. I'm not sure you can personally answer. But if you can, how many of them are legal voters and have the right to vote? But why just the poor and disenfranchised? Because perhaps that benefits one party or another, one candidate or another. There's lots of wealthy people who are apathetic who might not vote. Why don't you just do a general get-out-the-vote?

LEVENSON: Well, in fact, we are nonpartisan. We don't ask somebody their income level. We don't ask somebody who they're voting for. We don't ask somebody what party they belong to when we register them to vote. And you know, we've entered a bit of the silly season in politics. You know, all these stories that have come out over the last week...

COLBY: About ACORN -- raids on your offices.

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LEVENSON: But it's really important to find out what the real story here is because we by law are required to hold onto and turn over every single voter registration form that's filled out.

COLBY: And your position is that the elections commissions and boards should be responsible for checking those out. Your job is just...

LEVENSON: Well, it's actually -- let me go -- it's really important for the public to understand what's gone on here. We spot proactively by ourselves any questionable voter registration form and proactively notify appropriate authorities at the time that we collect it. We have been turning over registration forms to the authorities in these states weekly...

COLBY: But to do...

LEVENSON: ... Weekly for months at a time.

COLBY: I hear you. You're checking out. You're being proactive.

LEVENSON: No, but...


COLBY: But to do your job...

LEVENSON: I'm just sorry, one more point. The timing of this is so curious. When we've been turning over these forms to the state board of elections...

COLBY: But there have been questions...

LEVENSON: ... In state after state -- please.

COLBY: ... For a while. I just -- I need to get to the bottom of it because I know you want to clarify it.

LEVENSON: Absolutely.

COLBY: If you're nonpartisan, why would you take money from Barack Obama's campaign in order to do these get-out-the-vote efforts? What about this $800,000 check? Once and for all, clarify it.

LEVENSON: Oh, let's be clear here. No money was paid to ACORN for these voter registration activities.

COLBY: But to an organization that supports ACORN?

LEVENSON: Money was paid to CSI. That's not ACORN.

COLBY: Did ACORN benefit...

LEVENSON: And it was -- and again...

COLBY: ... From that money?

LEVENSON: And again, it was money paid not for -- first of all, it's nothing to do with the general election and nothing to do with voter registration money.

COLBY: Did ACORN benefit at all from that money to CSI?

LEVENSON: ACORN got money from CSI for turn-out work in the primary season.

COLBY: OK. Has ACORN done anything wrong, or are you comfortable that they've done everything they can to make sure everybody they sign up is allowed to vote?

LEVENSON: What ACORN did, along with Project Vote, is as American as apple pie. What we're doing is out there encouraging people to participate in the process. That work should be applauded.

COLBY: OK. I guess -- and thank you for coming you and talking to us about it.

LEVENSON: Thank you for having me.

COLBY: But I guess the question is, why, then, all of these investigations? We'll follow it. We'd love...

LEVENSON: The timing is curious.

COLBY: ... To have you back.

LEVENSON: Love to be back.

COLBY: We would love to have you back.

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