Tuesday, September 30, 2008
ACORN - What Is It and Who Are They?
ACORN - What Is It and Who Are They?
By Gary Fouse
ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, is the nation's largest community organization of low- and moderate-income families, working together for social justice and stronger communities."This statement appears on the home page of ACORN to describe their mission. The organization, which was founded in the early 1970s, consists of some 350,000 families and is located in approximately 100 cities in the US, Canada, Dominican Republic and Peru (Take Back America 2007 website). Under the leadership of its president, Maude Hurd, this group is involved in numerous activities including amnesty for illegal aliens and attacking Walmart.
More importantly, however, they are involved in housing issues, voter registration, and advocating for sub-prime motgage loans to low-income home buyers.Maude Hurd is a long-time community advocate for the poor. She has been active in recent years negotiating with banks to re-invest in low-income communities and to provide loans to first-time home buyers.In reality, ACORN is pretty much an arm of the Democratic Party-especially when it comes to voter registration. That portion of their activity has led to numerous accusations in many states of fraudulent voter registration-a charge ACORN denies. In addition, ACORN has, over the years, been linked to radical left political ideology.
This is what Michelle Malkin has to say about ACORN:"This left-wing group takes in 40 percent of its revenues from American taxpayers - you and me - and has leveraged nearly four decades of government subsidies to fund affiliates that promote the welfare state and undermine capitalism and self-reliance, some of which have been implicated in perpetuating illegal immigration and encouraging voter fraud. A new whistleblower report from the Consumer Rights League documents how Chicago-based ACORN has commingled public tax dollars with political projects."And there is this:"In recent months alone, the chief organizer of ACORN was forced to resign over the cover-up of a $1 million embezzlement scandal involving his brother. As internal whistleblower documents recently revealed, ACORN and its offshoots may have reaped substantial financial gains by misusing taxpayer dollars for political ends and by attacking lending corporations for the same so-called "predatory" lending practices ACORN regularly engages in. In 2008 alone, ACORN's voter registration activities have spawned investigations in almost a dozen states, sometimes involving tens of thousands of invalid or fraudulent registrations."James Terry, Chief Public AdvocateConsumer Rights League9-29-08
The above statement is in reference to Dale Rathke, the brother of ACORN's founder, Wade Rathke. On July 9, 2008, the New York Times reported that in 2001, Dale was found to have embezzled just under 950,000 dollars from ACORN and affiliated organizations. The incident was covered up and not reported to law enforcement authorities. Wade Rathke told the Times that the incident was kept secret so as not "to put a weapon into the hands of conservatives" (who opposed ACORN's activities). The funds were returned, and both of the Rathke's have since left the organization.Of course, with the bailout mess in progress, largely due to sub-prime loans made to individuals who could not afford to repay them, ACORN's name has surfaced in recent weeks since they have been an active lobby for such lending practices. ACORN's current position is that the financial scandal is due to "predatory lending practices".In terms of voter registration, ACORN has been accused of engaging in fraudulent registration in several states. The Wall Street Journal reported on November 3, 2006 that in the week prior to the mid-term elections, four ACORN workers were indicted by a federal grand jury for submitting false voter registration forms to the Kansas City Election Board. According to the article, other ACORN workers have been convicted in Wisconsin and Colorado for similar offenses, while investigations were on-going in Ohio, Tennessee and Pennsyvania, as well as on a national level by the Justice Department.
In addition, last July, ACORN settled the largest case of voter fraud in the history of Washington State. In this case, seven ACORN workers submitted approximately 2,000 fraudulent voter registration forms. It was revealed that ACORN personnel had literally let their fingers do the walking through the white pages looking for names and submitted some imaginative names to boot, such as Leon Spinks. Three ACORN members pleaded guilty. A King County prosecutor termed it as, "an act of vandalism upon the voter rolls". ("The Acorn Obama Knows" by Michelle Malkin, which was posted on Real Clear Politics 6-25-08) What is really astounding, given the organization's claim of being non-partisan-they claim to get no government funding and are not tax-exempt-is that ACORN's name arose in the draft version of the bailout bill. "The draft bill includes a left-wing giveaway that would force taxpayers to bankroll a slush fund for a discredited ally of the Democratic Party," reads one leadership alert. "At issue is ACORN, an organization fraught with controversy for, among other scandals, its fraudulent voter registration activities on behalf of Democratic candidates. Rather than returning any profits made in the long-term from the economic rescue package, Democrats want to first reward their radical allies at ACORN for their (often illegal) help in getting Democrats elected to office." (CBS News website quoting Republican sources)(In the face of Republican outrage over this provision, it was removed.)It appears that ACORN's claims of receiving no government funding are a bit of a stretch. One of their subsidiaries, the ACORN Housing Corporation, has reportedly received $1.6 million from the Dept of Housing and Urban Development (Malkin). It also appears that their claims of non-partisanship are a joke, to put it mildly. Ms Hurd has been publicly quoted as saying,"Obama is the candidate who "best understands and can affect change on the issues ACORN cares about".
The attempt by the Democrats at directing money to ACORN in the bailout bill puts the lie to the sanctimonious claims of people like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid that Republicans have inserted partisan politics into the crisis.Finally, it might also be noted that much of Barack Obama's mysterious years as a community organizer in Chicago are tied to ACORN, with whom he worked and to whom he gave training classes during those years. Stanley Kurtz, in National Review Online, has spelled out Obama's past relationship with ACORN. According to Kurtz's article, Obama was brought into a relationship with ACORN by Chicago community activist, Madeleine Talbot. Ms. Talbot was one of six people arrested on July 31, 1997, when about 200 ACORN protesters tried to storm a session of the Chicago City Council. She reportedly recruited Obama to provide training to ACORN leaders. This relationship with ACORN continued during Obama's years in the Illinois State Senate. In addition, the New York Times reported on May 11, 2008 that while Obama served on the board of the Woods Foundation and the Joyce Foundation, he helped direct tens of millions of dollars to ACORN and other community organizations. (NYT article by Jo Becker and Christopher Drew dated May 11, 2008). It was on the Woods Foundation that Obama worked with former Weatherunderground radical William Ayres.
In summary, it is crucial that voters know about this organization, its questionable activities, and its historical relationship with Barack Obama before they go to the polls in November. Who knows how many bogus voter registrations have already been submitted in preparation for getting Obama elected?The public should also ask itself why the Democratic Party was so intent on getting ACORN into the receiving line for government funding in connection with the (still-pending) bailout bill? It doesn't take a lot of imagination to connect the dots.
Gary Fouse is a regular contributor to Radarsite with his opoular and incisive Fouse Reports.