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Pennsylvania

Mt. Lebanon lawyer to testify against ACORN before Congress

| Thursday, March 19, 2009

HARRISBURG — An attorney from Mt. Lebanon is expected to testify before Congress today about an activist group's controversial role in the presidential election.

Heather Heidelbaugh is scheduled to testify about the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) in an appearance before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

Heidelbaugh, a partner in a Pittsburgh law firm, represented the state Republican Party in a lawsuit against ACORN, alleging voter fraud in Allegheny, Philadelphia, Delaware and Dauphin counties. ACORN conducted voter registration drives in urban areas.

She will testify as vice president of the Republican National Lawyers Association.

In an advance copy of her testimony, Heidelbaugh calls on Congress to investigate "serious law-breaking" by ACORN and to stop sending taxpayer money to the organization.

"The time is now. The American people are watching," she is expected to say.

Heidelbaugh will detail the allegations against ACORN by a fired staffer of its sister organization, Project Vote. The allegations range from fostering voter fraud to staging protests at corporations to get them to donate to ACORN.

During the campaign, Republican nominee John McCain charged that his Democratic opponent Barack Obama misled voters about his relationship with ACORN. Obama's campaign downplayed his ties with the group and said he was not involved in its voter-registration efforts.

In the fall, as the GOP waged its legal battle against ACORN, Heidelbaugh said she received a call from Anita Moncrief, who had worked on Project Vote's Washington staff. Moncrief, who was fired for placing personal purchases on the organization's credit card, told Heidelbaugh she had been a source for The New York Times. Heidelbaugh interviewed her at length and decided to put her on the witness stand.

An ACORN spokesman yesterday referred all comment to another ACORN spokesman, who was not available.

During the campaign, ACORN officials attacked Moncrief's credibility and asserted the group was diligent about quality control in voter-registration efforts.

Kira Gardner-Marshall, who oversees quality control for ACORN in Philadelphia, said in October that the organization fired 220 employees in 2007 and 2008 for voter fraud.

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