ACORN’s “shock troops” have been linked to or convicted of perjury, forgery, identity theft and election fraud in recent years and now are facing investigation for alleged violations of federal election law in 12 states, according to a new report from Matthew Vadum, a senior editor for the Capital Research Center.
Vadum, whose work with the Research Center includes studies of non-profit organizations, has released a report titled “ACORN: Who Funds the Weather Underground’s Little Brother?” documenting the troubled past and current problems facing the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.
Sen. Barack Obama at a presidential debate at Hofstra University in New York.
The organization for which Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama at one point trained activists and to which he directed grants while aboard the management of the Woods Fund has established a reputation for doing pretty much as it pleases, the report said.
“In 1995, ACORN sued the state of California seeking an exemption from the law that requires that it pay its own employees a minimum wage. ACORN, which argued that keeping its employees in poverty helps to boost their zeal to help the poor, lost,” according to the report.
The group, described by one critic as a “hydra” for its many interconnected boards, foundations, groups and organizations, essentially has created its own economy, with the tens of millions of dollars that are donated by foundations or paid by the government being directed to whatever cause or course of action ACORN officials deem worthy, the report said.
The “30-year-old radical left-wing activist group” has taken in a minimum of $126.4 million in donations and tax dollars since 1993, the report said.
The money has been used to advance ACORN’S manifesto, which states: “Enough is enough. We will wait no longer for the crumbs at America’s door. We will not be meek, but mighty. We will not starve on past promises, but feast on future dreams,” Vadum wrote.
While the election 2008 controversies over electoral fraud efforts “have been indelibly imprinted in the public consciousness,” Vadum said, that work is only a “smidgen of what ACORN actually does.”
This year, it boasted of registering 1.3 million new voters but had to backtrack and admit only a few hundred thousand registrations actually were valid.
Some of the other “activities” cited by Vadum:
- Having 500 activists storm the Washington Hilton and forcing then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich to cancel a speech.
- Pressuring Congress and financial institutions for a social basis for mortgages, rather than determine loans by a borrower’s ability to repay. Critics say this is a large part of the reason for the Wall Street meltdown in the past few months.
- Disrupting a congressional panel considering changes in the Community Reinvestment Act.
- Harassing motorists waiting for traffic at intersections with donation campaigns.
- Staging protests outside the home of the chairman of San Diego Gas & Electric that were so disruptive a judge issued a temporary restraining order to keep them away.
- Dumping garbage in front of Baltimore’s city hall and demonstrating outside the mayor’s home, terrifying his wife and children.
- Suing the state of California seeking an exemption from a requirement to pay its employees minimum wage.
- And turning in hundreds of thousands of voter registrations that have been tossed by election officials.
The report also cited ACORN’s refusal to follow basic civil rights laws or pay required taxes.
“Even though it supports the continued imposition of equal employment opportunity laws on the rest of America, it argued it shouldn’t have to comply with those same laws. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had to sue ACORN to force it [to] comply with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” the report said.
“Ironically, ACORN and its affiliates, all reliable cheerleaders for higher taxes, are longtime tax deadbeats. A search of public records found more than 200 federal, state, and local tax liens adding up to more than $3.7 million that are associated with groups that share ACORN’s address on Elysian Fields Avenue in New Orleans,” the report continued.
According to the report, the Wall Street Journal’s John Fund, a vote fraud expert, attributes ACORN’s rising level of aggressiveness to its “desperation.”
“He argues that ACORN had to join with unions and other left-wing groups in an all-out push for an Obama victory in the hope that the scandals would all get swept under the rug,” the report said.
There also have been racketeering allegations about ACORN, officials said.
“ACORN officials ‘bill themselves as nonpartisan community organizers merely interested in giving a voice to minorities and the poor,’ notes the Wall Street Journal, but that façade is fading fast,” Vadum said.
“In reality, the organization is ‘a union-backed, multimillion-dollar outfit that uses intimidation and other tactics’ to advance a ‘highly partisan agenda.’ Its community organizers ‘are best understood as shock troops of the AFL-CIO and even the Democratic Party,'” he said.
ACORN has become an issue in the 2008 presidential race because of Obama’s ties to the group as well as its own admission that more than 400,000 of the 1.3 million voter registrations it claims to have collected were not valid.
Obama has been trying to disassociate himself from the group.
“The only involvement I’ve had with ACORN was I represented them alongside the U.S. Justice Department in making Illinois implement a motor voter law that helped people get registered at DMVs,” Obama declared in one of the presidential debates.
“Now, with respect to ACORN, ACORN is a community organization. Apparently what they’ve done is they were paying people to go out and register folks, and apparently some of the people who were out there didn’t really register people, they just filled out a bunch of names,” Obama said.
But Obama’s 1995 suit on behalf of ACORN, in which the state of Illinois was compelled to implement the federal “motor-voter” bill, was just a sampling of Obama’s association.
Among other involvements, Obama trained ACORN activists and while working on the board of the Woods Fund, channeled millions of dollars to ACORN.
Vadum told WND ACORN had a major role in the meltdown of the stock market by lobbying for programs to loan massive amounts of money for questionable mortgages to people who probably never had the resources to repay the loans.
“It is also implicated in vote fraud schemes from coast to coast,” his report added.
“With an FBI probe under way, millions of dollars in back taxes owing, and a racketeering lawsuit pending, it may finally have to answer for its many misdeeds,” he wrote.
Barack Obama during a 2004 meeting of an ACORN affiliate
Of course, with a friend in the White House, answering for misdeeds could be easier. According to the report, during the primary season, the Obama campaign paid $832,598 to an ACORN affiliate for get-out-the-vote activities. Obama has said, “I’ve been fighting alongside ACORN on issues you care about my entire career. Even before I was an elected official, when I ran Project Vote voter registration drives in Illinois, ACORN was smack dab in the middle of it.”
A WND call to ACORN offices in Louisiana was referred to a “spokesman” at another office, who did not return a WND message left there.
Obama also has promised to consult with ACORN even before taking office to establish priorities.
In an address only a year ago, he told an ACORN forum, “Before I even get inaugurated, during the transition, we’re going to be calling all of you in to help us shape the agenda. We’re going to be having meetings all across the country with community organizations so that you have input into the agenda for the next presidency of the United States of America.”
Vadum said the activities also represent the organization’s foundations.
He notes the socialist New Party, “which served as ACORN’s electoral arm, endorsed Obama, who was one of its members, when he ran for the Illinois state senate in the mid-1990s.”
But he said ACORN’s foundations can be traced to the 1962 Port Huron Statement, “a manifesto of radical students disillusioned with America.”
The statement was written largely by famed anti-war activist Tom Hayden, who claimed America was “hopelessly racist, militaristic, and soulless,”
The result was the formation of the Students for a Democratic Society, perhaps the pre-eminent group in the New Left movement in the 1960s.
The group later broke apart. One faction became the Weathermen Underground, for which Obama’s friend William Ayers was a leader. Another leader was Ayers’ wife, Bernardine Dohrn. They were described by Vadum as “would-be mass murderers … who would later become members of the faculties of, respectively, the University of Illinois, Chicago and the Northwestern University School of Law.”
In recent interviews, Ayers has shown no regret for his active radical days when he participated in several bombings, saying he only wished he could have done more.
Another faction, which rejected terrorist violence, was led by Wade Rathke, who had worked as a draft resistance organizer for SDS. He believed, according to Vadum, in “welfare rights” and in 1970 founded ACORN to carry out his agenda of attacking society through ever-increasing burdens on its social systems.
Not only did Ayers host a fundraiser in 1995 to launch Obama’s political career, Hayden also has endorsed Obama, as have other former SDS members, including Michael and Susan Klonsky, Fred Klonsky, Carl Davidson and Marilyn Katz.
Vadum told WND that the organization simply does what it wants, even to the point of ignoring ordinary laws that are binding on the rest of America.
Rathke, the report explained, “failed to notify police when he discovered in 2000 that his brother Dale, ACORN’s chief financial officer, had embezzled $948,000 from the group. Instead, Wade Rathke engineered a cover-up for his brother and allowed him to leave the payroll of Citizens Consulting Inc., the ACORN affiliate that handles its financial affairs, and go to work as his $38,000 a year ‘assistant’ at ACORN headquarters. The missing money was disguised as a loan to an officer of the ledgers of Citizens Consulting.”
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