Sunday, September 27, 2009

The ACORN 8: Watchdogs


There are so many supposedly corrupt organizations, tax cheats, crooks and shady characters around President Obama that it is difficult to disseminate it all, especially when there are so few in the media who will cover the stories. However, recently, Andrew Breitbart and Glenn Beck provided two courageous young journalists, James O'Keefe and Hanna Giles, web and television platforms to showcase their work and thus expose the corruption they found at various ACORN offices across the United States. The taped “advice” was so deplorable that members of ACORN have been fired, more investigations started, and funding withheld pending further investigation. But, O’Keefe and Giles were not the first to look into the corruption of this community organizing /social engineering group that had many ties to President Obama.


That the organization was either in trouble or corrupt was first noticed by members last year. In May of 2008, it was first revealed to the board of ACORN that nearly a decade earlier Dale Rathke had embezzled about one million dollars and that his brother, Wade Rathke, the long time CEO of ACORN had covered it up. Both Rathkes were removed from their positions as a result. Some members immediately decided to form an investigative committee: Karen Inman, who would investigate issues related to the embezzlement; Marcel Reid, who would scrutinize the organizational structure; and Carol Hemingway, who would focus on other financial issues.

What they found was more criminality than initially suspected. It appears the group has been in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, mismanagement of pension funds, other incidences of embezzlement, and money laundering between the many other “ghost” organizations that ACORN has established in violation of its tax status. Citizen’s Consulting, Inc was the arm of ACORN that played the shell game with all funding. In one case, millions of government dollars meant to fund health care projects in poor neighborhoods was used to fund a media campaign.

As the board was discovering that ACORN was millions behind in taxes, and as the investigators were refused their requests to see the financial records of the organizations, these brave women and a handful of others, became bold whistleblowers, and the ACORN 8 was founded. Inman and Reid both appeared on The Glenn Beck Show to tell their stories.

Their message is that:
• ACORN is not living up to its original mission; and that is to give meaningful voice and empower low and moderate income members of society.
• ACORN has been corrupted from its original purpose by senior management and an organizational structure that exploits the low and moderate income membership ACORN was founded to serve.
• ACORN’s leadership has been corrupted and lacks any accountability.

The committee states:
Like you, we’re activists. We’re dedicated to helping people like ourselves — people of limited means — get a better shake. That’s why we joined ACORN in the first place. That’s why we’re fighting now to make it an open organization with clean books, honest leadership and a willingness to grow through scrutiny and criticism. ACORN has suffered through the turmoil of embezzlement of huge amounts of money by key figures in the organization. To move forward it needs to openly confront the past and eliminate the possibility of such abuse in the future. That’s what the ACORN 8 are about.

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