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Obama camp downplays payments to ACORN (Washington Times)

Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama's campaign distanced itself Thursday from its $800,000 payment linked to the liberal ACORN organization, which is under investigation in several states where it is suspected of filing fraudulent voter registrations.

Federal Election Commission reports show ACORN-affiliated Citizens Services Inc. got $832,598 from the Obama campaign for get-out-the-vote work during the primaries. But those payments stopped in May and the Obama campaign says they should not be an election issue.

"This is going to be an historic election with unprecedented voter participation, and we are committed to protecting the integrity of the voting process," Obama spokesman Nick Shapiro said. "We support local officials in their efforts to investigate any fraudulent behavior and the full prosecution of any illegal activities."

Still, the contributions to Citizens Services draw the Obama campaign closer to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, and the growing voter-fraud scandal that this week spread to the battleground state of Ohio.

The elections board in Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, is reviewing about 65,000 voter cards submitted by ACORN after flagging 50 cards filled out for duplicate names, fictitious addresses, noncitizens and recycled names and addresses of currently registered voters, said board spokesman Mike West.

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