ACORN, Payola and Color of Law

Posted on October 15, 2009. Filed under: Acorn | Tags: , , , , , , , |

by Mark J.Fitzgibbons
Here’s one example of how state law enforcement officials have leveraged and possibly violated the law to help ACORN in return for ACORN’s political help.

In December 2004, Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch sued Capital One for failing to state in its advertisements that it could increase interest rates on credit cards. As part of a 2006 settlement, Capital One paid $749,999, of which $249,999 went to ACORN, $250,000 went to the nonprofit Legal Aid, and $250,000 to the State of Minnesota.

ACORN’s political action committee had endorsed Mike Hatch for attorney general in 1998 and 2002, and in 2006 for governor.

In 2008, Minnesota’s Legislative Auditor, James Nobles, conducted a review of the Capital One settlement and payment to ACORN. By letter, he asked Hatch’s successor, current state Attorney General Lori Swanson (who was given a grade of A+ from ACORN in 2008) for information about the settlement. Specifically, Nobles asked:

[Minnesota statute 16A-151] says: ‘A state official may not commence, pursue, or settle litigation, or settle a matter that could have resulted in litigation, in a manner that would result in money being distributed to a person or entity other than the state.’ An exception is… if the settlement amount is less than $750,000. It is alleged that the Attorney General’s office sought a judgment of $749,999 to avoid the prohibition [on diverting settlement money from the state]. Is that true? If not, please explain why the Attorney General’s office sought a $749,999 judgment.

Swanson’s response to Nobles in May 2008, rather than conducting any independent inquiry herself, consisted of forwarding a May 2008 letter from Mike Hatch, who denied impropriety. Swanson’s response to the investigation of whether Minnesota law was violated, in other words, was that the alleged perpetrator said he’s innocent.

Hatch’s letter begged more questions than it answered. In response to Nobles’ question about why Hatch sought and accepted a $749,999 settlement, exactly one dollar below the statutory threshold requiring all of the settlement money to be paid to the state, Hatch replied, “[t]he answer is because that is what the statute permitted.”               That answer, of course, evades Nobles’ question. The settlement could have been for any amount or no amount whatsoever, rather than exactly one dollar below the threshold that would have required the settlement proceeds be paid to the state. That exactly one-dollar difference would have barred ACORN from receiving any portion of the settlement proceeds.

Read the rest of the article on The American Thinker

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OMB directs executive branch to cut ties to ACORN

Posted on October 8, 2009. Filed under: Acorn | Tags: , |

by Ed Morrissey

While Congress wrestles with various ways to strip ACORN of any remaining federal funding, the White House has somewhat quietly begun to disconnect itself from the community-organizing group.  OMB director Peter Orszag yesterday sent the following compliance memo to “all Executive Branch agencies” to meet the requirements of the continuing resolutions that Congress have already passed to keep the government funded in the absence of a budget.  Orszag basically says to cut ACORN off immediately:

MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES
FROM: Peter R. Orszag Director
SUBJECT: Guidance on section 163 of the Continuing Resolution regarding the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN)

This memorandum provides guidance to Executive Branch agencies regarding the implementation of section 163 of the Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2010, Division B of Pub. L. No. 111-68 (CR), which states:

SEC. 163. None of the funds made available by this joint resolution or any prior Act may be provided to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, or allied organizations.

Your agency must immediately commence all necessary and appropriate steps to comply with section 163. This includes the following:

  • No future obligations of funds. No agency or department should obligate or award any Federal funds to ACORN or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries or allied organizations (collectively “affiliates”) during the period of the CR. To the extent your agency already has determined that funds should be obligated or awarded to ACORN or its affiliates but has not yet entered into any agreement to provide such funds to ACORN or any of its affiliates, your agency should not provide such funds, or enter into any such agreements to do so. As section 163 makes clear, its prohibition applies not only to the funding that is made available by the CR, but also to the funding that was made available by previously enacted statutes. In addition, the text of section 163 is sufficiently broad to cover funding that was made available for fiscal year (FY) 2009 and prior fiscal years, as well as funding that is or will be made available for FY10.
  • Suspension of grant and contractual payments. If your agency has an existing contract or grant agreement with ACORN or its affiliates, the agency should: (i) where permissible, immediately suspend performance of any obligations under the contract or agreement, including payment of Federal funds; and (ii) consult promptly with the agency’s general counsel and, if necessary, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Department of Justice concerning the legal considerations that bear on the performance of such obligations under the existing contract or agreement.
  • No funding of ACORN and its affiliates through Federal grantees or contractors. Your agency should take steps so that no Federal funds are awarded or obligated by your grantees or contractors to ACORN or its affiliates as subgrantees, subcontractors, or other subrecipients. Because section 163 states that “[n]one of the funds . . . may be provided,” this prohibition applies not only to a direct recipient of Federal funds but also to a subrecipient (e.g., a subcontractor, subgrantee, or contractor of a grantee). We recommend that your agency:
    • notify all Federal grant and contract recipients of the prohibition contained in section 163, and provide them with a copy of this guidance document; and
    • advise all Federal grant and contract recipients (a) not to provide Federal funds to ACORN or its affiliates as subgrantees, subcontractors or other subrecipients, consistent with this guidance, and (b) to notify your agency of any existing subgrants, subcontracts or other subrecipient agreements with ACORN or its affiliates and of how the grantee or contractor is planning to comply with the prohibition with respect to those subgrants, subcontracts or subrecipient agreements.
  • Read the rest at Hot Air Blog
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ACORN Awarded Grant Over Firefighters

Posted on October 7, 2009. Filed under: Acorn | Tags: , , , , |

Nearly $1 million in Homeland Security funding typically earmarked for fire departments has been awarded to ACORN, despite a clear signal from Congress that it intends to cut off federal funding to the embattled group, the Washington Times reported.

The grant to ACORN’s Louisiana office became public on Oct. 2, less than three weeks after the House and Senate voted to cut off ACORN funding after employees were caught on video advising a fake prostitute and pimp on scams.

It was one of only three such grants issued to the state and made up almost 80 percent of the firefighting money earmarked for Louisiana, prompting one of the U.S. senators from the state to demand that the funds be taken back

“I request that you rescind this grant based on a history of abuse of federal dollars by ACORN and their clear lack of expertise in this area,” said Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana Republican.

When asked how the money would be spent, ACORN spokesman Brian Kettenring issued a statement criticizing the senator, who confessed in the past to having used an escort service.

Click here to continue reading at the Washington Times. 

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ACORN: Congress can’t hurt us

Posted on October 7, 2009. Filed under: Acorn | Tags: , , , , |

By MICHAEL FALCONE

 Any successful efforts by Congress to cut off federal funding to scandal-plagued ACORN would have little effect on the community organizing group’s overall operations, its chief executive officer said on Tuesday.

 “We didn’t have government funding for years,” said ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis. “We may not have government funding in the future.”

 Lewis said ACORN typically receives about $2.5 million to $3 million annually from the federal government – roughly 10 percent of its $20 million to $25 million annual budget. Member dues and private sources make up a much larger chunk of the budget, she said.

 After a series of undercover videos surfaced showing ACORN employees giving advice to conservative activists posing as a prostitute and a pimp, opponents in Congress have sought to cut the group’s sources of federal money. In recent weeks, both the U.S. Census Bureau and the Internal Revenue Service have also ended partnerships with ACORN.

But Lewis, who spoke Tuesday at Washington’s National Press Club, called the congressional actions a case of “modern day ACORN McCarththyism,” and she dismissed a report by the Republican staff of the Senate Finance Committee alleging that ACORN used some charitable funding for political purposes.

 Last month, the group suspended new intakes to its service programs throughout the country, pending the results of an independent review led by former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger.
Lewis, who said her remarks were part of a “set-the-record-straight tour,” said the group would continue to pursue a lawsuit against the makers of the videos as well as the conservative Web site, Breitbart.com, where they first appeared.
Read more of this article on Politico.com

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Podesta spends Soros’ money stupidly

Posted on October 6, 2009. Filed under: Acorn | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

BREITBART: Podesta spends Soros’ money stupidly

By Andrew Breitbart

A telling event occurred on Sept. 15, Day 6 of the drip, drip, drip ACORN video rollout. President Obama met for lunch with former President Bill Clinton at trendy Il Mulino in New York City.

For the second consecutive day, the New York Post featured the ACORN scandal on its cover – complete with James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles in their outrageous “pimp and ho” costumes.

Does anyone think the president and the former president were unaware that the city in which they were dining was mesmerized by the ACORN scandal – especially since ACORN had bragged that its employees had kicked Mr. O’Keefe and Ms. Giles out of their New York office?

The Sept. 15 edition of the New York Post explored the political angles and directed attention to the Brooklyn District Attorney’s investigation into why an ACORN office in its jurisdiction helped instruct a prospective brothel owner how to hide his prostitution proceeds in a tin in his backyard.

No one in the morally superior media world has asked, why did Mr. Obama have lunch with Mr. Clinton that day? So let me take a guess, and it seems like an obvious answer. Mr. Obama, under siege by a video-a-day expose that was exposing the Democratic Party to an avalanche of consequences (ACORN defunded in the House and Senate, ACORN delinked from the census, etc.), needed advice from the last president to navigate through a major political scandal.

On this day, neither the president or the former president, nor the media knew how many more videos were coming.

The next day, Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta, the Democratic Party’s top fix-it guy with control over much of the left’s well-funded vast attack machinery (think George Soros, the Tides Foundation, et al.), was among a small advisory group placed in charge of investigating the matter.

With the mainstream media continuing to ignore the evidence on the tapes, Mr. Podesta is now clearly in charge of feeding them information about his well-structured investigation into the investigators. The ACORN internal probe is a “war room” aimed at destroying the messengers and is not meant to clean up major corruption.

See more @ Breitbart Washington Times

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ACORN’s Lewis suggests opponents are racist

Posted on October 6, 2009. Filed under: Acorn | Tags: , , , |

By Joseph Curl

ACORN’s Bertha Lewis charged Tuesday that accusations about the embattled community organizing group are racist, alleging that a coordinated political effort started by former Bush adviser Karl Rove sought to stop the group from registering minority voters.

“For many years, there’ve been folks who’ve disagreed with our ideology or methodology that has [cq] gone after us,” ACORN’s CEO said in a speech at the National Press Club in Washington.

“I mean we, back going [cq] to 2004, we now see through e-mails from Karl Rove from the previous administration that ACORN itself was targeted, targeted to go after us so that we would stop doing voter registration because it was said that we were moving too many minorities to vote, changing the power dynamics on the local election and that we needed to be stopped.”

She also labeled as racist the infamous videos that show ACORN workers advising a man and young woman posing as pimp and prostitute how to circumvent the law. “These new filmmakers, [James] O’Keefe himself, told The Washington Post, ‘They’re registering too many minorities, they usually vote Democratic, somebody’s got to stop them,’ ” Mrs. Lewis said.

Washington Times

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ACORN embezzlement was $5 million, La. attorney general says

Posted on October 6, 2009. Filed under: Acorn | Tags: , , , , , , |

By Robert Travis Scott

Louisiana’s attorney general has broadened the scope of an investigation of ACORN to include a possible embezzlement of $5 million a decade ago within the community organization, five times more than previously reported.

ACORN Chief Executive Officer Bertha Lewis said the new reported amount is “completely false.”

Attorney General Buddy Caldwell has been conducting an investigation of ACORN since June. He issued subpoenas in August seeking documents related to former ACORN International President Wade Rathke and his brother Dale Rathke, who kept the group’s books. Those subpoenas were focused on possible ACORN violations for non-payment of employee withholding taxes, obstructing justice and violating the Employee Retirement Security Act. No charges have been made.

The attorney general had inquired in June into an alleged embezzlement within ACORN that happened 10 years ago. The group last year dealt with an internal dispute and a lawsuit involving accusations that Dale Rathke made nearly $1 million in improper credit card charges in 1999 and 2000. The brother and a donor repaid the money.

Caldwell said last month that the statute of limitations presented obstacles to prosecutors taking action on the embezzlement, and that his investigation was not focused on that issue. The subpoena issued Monday changed the tone of the investigation and put a new emphasis on the embezzlement issue.

“Current high-ranking members of ACORN have publicly acknowledged that embezzlement did in fact occur, but the exact amount of the embezzlement was unknown until it was recently acknowledged in a board of directors meeting on Oct. 17, 2008, by Bertha Lewis and Liz Wolf that an internal review had determined that the amount embezzled was $5 million, ” the new subpoena says.

Read more at NOLA.COM

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ACORN Paycheck Aside, Patrick Gaspard is a Radical

Posted on October 5, 2009. Filed under: Acorn | Tags: , , , , , , |

by Kyle Olson

Several days ago, Capital Research Center’s Matthew Vadum published research here indicating an ACORN alumni in the White House (other than the president): Political Director Patrick Gaspard.  As I did three weeks prior at ACORNcracked.com, Matthew used a Wade Rathke blog as the source, which Rathke, the founder of ACORN,  immediately changed after Vadum’s report, citing “memory tricks.”  Politico led the way in poo-pooing the connection once Rathke played cover-up.

Rathke said it not only on his blog, but also at a book signing in New Orleans, which was recently covered in the Fox News Special: The Truth About ACORN.”  While we attended that book signing and were not able to get that portion on tape, the Fox documentary crew did.  Sadly, the remarks apparently ended up on the cutting room floor.

The fact is, Patrick Gaspard, Obama’s “Glue Man,” is more important than Van Jones ever hoped of being.  The fact is, one of the most critical and influential jobs in a White House, the Director of Political Affairs, is occupied by a former SEIU health care lobbyist and ACORN organizer.  To be exact, he was Executive Vice President–the #2–at SEIU 1199 in New York City.

After Gaspard was appointed to the White House, Carribbean Voice quoted him as saying, “I grew up in 1199…and I will always be an 1199er wherever I am.”  SEIU’s luxury is that now taxpayers are paying for it.

 

Wade Rathke, current organizer with SEIU Local 100 (in New Orleans) and ACORN International (now “Community Organizations International”), called Gaspard a “great friend” on his ChiefOrganizer.org blog. Additionally, Rathke theorized how Gaspard was likely instrumental in working with SEIU to bring “big health care operators” to the table.  [Figuring once scrutiny came to someone high-level in the White House, the evidence would be changed, we turned Rathke’s blog posting into a PDF.]

That is curious, given the Obama Transition team’s pledge that Gaspard would refrain from issues he had lobbied previously.  According to the Washington Post, a transition spokesman said, “Patrick and Mark [Gitenstein] have jobs on the campaign that are general in nature, but per the unprecedented ethics policy laid out earlier this week they will recuse themselves from the fields of policy or agencies they lobbied in the previous 12 months.”

So we are to believe the Political Director of the White House—one of the most important players in the administration—is sitting on his hands while Obama attempts to salvage his biggest “reform” yet, and likely ever?  Ethics schmethics.

When Sean Bell was shot by New York City police in 2007, Al Sharpton reached out to Patrick Gaspard (while he was at SEIU 1199) to formulate a response.  According to Politicker NY, “In December 2006, Mr. Sharpton asked Patrick Gaspard to help him assemble an emergency meeting of about 300 activists, black nationalists, union and political leaders to decide on an appropriate response to the police shooting…”

Sharpton used the SEIU 1199 office to hold a protest organizational meeting.  According to The Observer, the union was represented by Gaspard at the meeting.

The People’s Organization for Progress, along with the New Black Panther Party, organized protests against the New York City police department, carrying signs saying such things as “KILL THE PIGS THAT KILL OUR KIDS.”

Read the rest at Big Government.com

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ACORN Plans Massive Layoffs!

Posted on October 5, 2009. Filed under: Acorn | Tags: , , , , |

by Matthew Vadum

A credible source claims the embattled left-wing advocacy group ACORN is poised to announce massive staff layoffs but an ACORN spokesman denies this is the case.

A credible source close to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now revealed that the activist network intends to lay off all staff members operating out of its New Orleans headquarters. All information provided by the source to this reporter in the past has turned out to be correct.

However, ACORN spokesman Scott Levenson of the public relations firm The Advance Group in New York City said the source was incorrect.

In an interview Friday afternoon with Levenson said (referring to BigGovernment.com), “You guys just can’t get it right. You’re wrong again.”

When pressed to elaborate, Levenson declined to do so.

Levenson received media attention earlier this year when Fox News host Glenn Beck ejected the combative publicist from his studio during a commercial break. Beck said at the time that Levenson accused him of being a racist.

My source said that one of the employees to be cashiered in the Crescent City is the daughter of disgraced ACORN founder Wade Rathke. Rathke’s wife, Beth Butler, also works for ACORN but it is unclear at this point if she too will be laid off. Rathke’s son also reportedly is employed by ACORN.

ACORN also plans to lay off two-thirds of its Washington, D.C., staffers as soon as Wednesday of next week, according to the source. Layoffs will also extend to ACORN’s affiliate the ACORN Institute.

The source also revealed that all or most of ACORN’s development staff in the group’s New York City office will soon be laid off if they haven’ been laid off already.

Read more at BigGovernment.com

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ACORN Hired People ‘Still In Prison’ Convicted of Identity Theft For Canvassing Voters

Posted on October 5, 2009. Filed under: Acorn | Tags: , , , |

by Jim Hoft

Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller, a democrat, told Eric Shawn on FOX News that ACORN was hiring convicts still in prison -CONVICTED OF IDENTITY THEFT- for canvassing voters.

Ross said that by executing a search warrant at ACORN headquarters in Nevada the authorities were able to substantiate charges and have a very solid case against ACORN. They believe they can prove that it’s not just a few bad apples it went much higher up in the organization. Ross believes that ACORN and the regional director should be held accountable for the criminal activity that took place in the state.

Ross told FOX News that they found prisoners on the ACORN payroll:

Ross Miller: Obviously we believed that it went much higher on the food chain. That ACORN had a quota system in place and they were paying individuals this black jack. That encourages voter registration fraud and that is why it is important that we go after them and charge them criminally and try to obtain a conviction. They constantly say we have a bad apple. We have a bad a bad employee like most people do. Clearly that’s not the case. This is an organization that came to Nevada and hired people that were still in prison convicted of identity theft that were on work release programs for canvassing voters.

Eric Shawn: Wait a minute… Hired people that were still in prison?

Ross Miller: Correct. There’s a transitional housing facility, Casa Grande, down there. ACORN approached them. They hired individuals that were still in prison. Some of them were convicted of serious offenses, identity theft. A violation of state law that these inmates should not have had contact with people’s personal information. Those were the individuals that were our canvassing people.

See the Video at Big Government.com

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Why Isn’t ACORN Vote Fraud A Criminal RICO?

Posted on October 3, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: |

By Former US Attorney for Philadelphia David W. Marston

You don’t need to be John Gotti–or even Tony Soprano–to be prosecuted criminally as a racketeer. You could, instead, be the ACORN employee who gave 19-year-old Freddie Johnson dollar bills and cigarettes in exchange for signing 73 fraudulent voter registration cards in critical swing-state Ohio.

Indeed, beyond high-profile Mafia prosecutions, the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act–RICO–has been used against targets as disparate as the Key West Police Department, financier Michael Milken and the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club. The purpose of RICO is to focus on the criminal “enterprise,” not just individual criminals, to prosecute and eliminate criminal organizations with multi-state or national reach. On conviction, RICO criminal enterprises forfeit all of their assets, and individual defendants are subject to stiff prison sentences.

RICO cases need three key elements. Criminal charges can be brought against: (i) a “person,” who is part of an (ii) an “enterprise” which includes any legal entity (iii) which engages in a “pattern of racketeering activity” (defined as committing any 2 of 35 named crimes within a 10-year period). And yes, fraud is one of the crimes that can trigger RICO.

So let’s consider the enterprise called ACORN. A successor to the militant and now defunct Welfare Rights Organization, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now has engaged in an in-your-face 30-year effort to “organize the poor” and bring about “social change.”

Typical ACORN tactics: In 1995, 500 ACORN protesters yelling “Nuke Newt” and “We Want Newt!” overwhelmed hotel security at the Washington Hilton, where Gingrich was scheduled to speak; the Speaker’s speech was cancelled. On Capitol Hill, ACORN thugs shouting “CRA Has Got To Stay” and “Banks for Greed, Not for Need” muscled their way into control of a House Banking Committee hearing; they were finally removed by Capital Police. In Baltimore, ACORN activists dumped a huge pile of garbage in front of City Hall, and a busload of profanity-shouting protesters “demonstrated” outside Mayor Martin O’Malley’s home. [They] “scared the daylights out of my wife and kids,” O’Malley said.

Read more at the Stone Zone

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ACORN voting fraud in the news

Posted on October 3, 2009. Filed under: Acorn | Tags: |

Rick Moran
ACORN voting fraud is getting increased attention in two states today. First, in New York, “massive” voter fraud is connected to the Working Families Party – you guessed it – an ACORN front group.

Mike Roman at Big Government links to a piece in the Times-Union by Brendan Lyons who has the details:

Dozens of forged and fraudulent absentee ballots from people registered to vote on the Working Families Party line were filed in the Sept. 15 primary elections in Troy.Documents at the county Board of Elections show the fraudulent ballots were handled by or prepared on behalf of various elected officials and leaders and operatives for the Democratic and Working Families parties.

There may be as many as 50 absentee ballots that were forged, according to people close to the case. Countywide, there were 126 absentee ballots applied for on the Working Families Party line.

God knows how many fraudulent ballots there were which weren’t found.

Also, out west, Roman informs us of a case in Las Vegas involving a former ACORN field director who devised a unique incentive program for his voter registration workers; bring in 21 registrations, get a bonus.

Except – that sort of thing is illegal in Nevada, as Ashley Powers writing in the LA Times shows:

As the field director of ACORN’s Las Vegas office, he brainstormed a way to motivate meagerly paid canvassers: If they turned in 21 or more registration cards in a day, they were each given a $5 bonus.

“Hey, it’s Las Vegas,” Edwards testified Tuesday. “It’s blackjack.”

But Edwards’ “blackjack bonuses,” which he bragged about to other ACORN offices, broke the law, state prosecutors say. Nevada bars quotas or cash incentives in voter sign-up efforts: Officials fear they could lead to false registrations.

Read more at The American Thinker  Blog

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Who Is White House Aide Patrick Gaspard? What Is His Alleged Tie to ACORN?

Posted on September 28, 2009. Filed under: America | Tags: , , |

Who Is White House Aide Patrick Gaspard? What Is His Alleged Tie to ACORN?

Patrick Gaspard, considered one of the most powerful figures in the Obama White House, is a “longtime ACORN operative” and former union official, according to a report posted Monday on the American Spectator’s online blog.
 
Gaspard’s name recently surfaced as the official President Obama dispatched to urge beleaguered New York Gov. David Paterson not to run for another term. Paterson insists he’ll continue to run for governor even without Obama’s support.

Gaspard has extensive ties to organized labor and community-organizing groups. One measure of his influence in the White House: He holds the same “political affairs director” title that belonged to Karl Rove during the Bush administration

(more…)

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