'ACORN PAID ME IN CASH & CIGS'
CLEVELAND - A man at the center of a voter-registration scandal told The Post yesterday he was given cash and cigarettes by aggressive ACORN activists in exchange for registering an astonishing 72 times, in apparent violation of Ohio laws.
"Sometimes, they come up and bribe me with a cigarette, or they'll give me a dollar to sign up," said Freddie Johnson, 19, who filled out 72 separate voter-registration cards over an 18-month period at the behest of the left-leaning Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.
"The ACORN people are everywhere, looking to sign people up. I tell them I am already registered. The girl said, 'You are?' I say, 'Yup,' and then they say, 'Can you just sign up again?' " he said.
ACORN is under investigation in Ohio and at least eight other states - including Missouri, where the FBI said it's planning to look into potential voter fraud - for over-the-top efforts to get as many names as possible on the voter rolls regardless of whether a person is registered or eligible.
Meanwhile, a federal judge yesterday ordered Ohio's Secretary of State to verify the identity of newly registered voters by matching them with other government documents. The order was in response to a Republican lawsuit unrelated to the ACORN probe in Cuyahoga County, in which at least three people, including Johnson, have been subpoenaed.
ACORN's political wing has endorsed Barack Obama for president, but Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for the Obama campaign in Ohio, said ACORN has no role in its get-out-the-vote drive.
"No one should be corrupting the most precious right we have, that is the right to vote," he said.
It's a right Johnson will exercise. "Yeah, I've registered enough - I might as well vote."