ACORN Watch exposes Wade Rathke

More ACORN stories: here
More Wade Rathke stories: here

Barack's ACORN: Unions' dirty-tricks group revealed

After seven years of hiding corruption, ACORN has admitted Dale Rathke, brother of founder, Wade Rathke had embezzled nearly $1 million from the company. The embezzlement was only known to a few and was hidden from the remainder of the ACORN board. Unfortunately the wide scale corruption doesn’t even start with the embezzlement. The embezzlement is part of a much longer line of illegal activity.

ACORN is connected to money laundering, misuse of taxpayer funds, voter fraud especially in the Presidential Primaries, Wage and Hour Issues among their employees, and even safety issues in their offices. They are interfering in gubernatorial races especially in the State of Indiana. Their interference in the political arena knows no bounds. ACORN is the umbrella company to at least 75 non-profits all operating out of 1024 Elysian Fields Avenue, New Orleans, LA as verified by the Secretary of State in Louisiana. It is time to examine their fraud and expose it for what it is. So here is their dirty laundry list to date.

Money Laundering

The money laundering that was identified by the Consumer Rights League was released in a report in June 2008. The money laundering happened in 1996 and involved the Teamster’s Union, causing the president’s election to be thrown out by federal authorities. ACORN’s Project Vote, which is tied to voter fraud, received $175,000 to perform a “non-partisanship” get-out-the-vote activity. Project Vote was to target votes that benefited the Clinton Campaign, congressional and senatorial races with emphasis on the votes for congress people and senators.

Misuse of Taxpayer Funds

The misuse of taxpayers funds has been going on for more than 3 decades with the first instance being reported in 1977. It was connected to the Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA). ACORN had been awarded a federal grant for $470,000 to train volunteers to assist low income people. Congress investigated ACORN finding they had used these funds for labor organizing and not training employees.

The second instance happened during the Clinton Administration and involved the follow up program to VISTA, AMERICORPS, established in 1993 which absorbed VISTA. In 1994, a federal grant worth more than $1 million was awarded to a subsidiary of ACORN, ACORN Housing Corp. At some point their “use “ of taxpayer funding came into question. The Inspector General of Americorps under took an investigation. The investigation found the following irregularities. They found that there were questionable transactions charged to AHC by ACORN or other ACORN-related organizations. They found that AHC was founded to serve both organizations. The grant was revoked.

Embezzlement by an Employee

The embezzler wasn’t just any embezzler, his name is Dale Rathke, brother of Wade Rathke, founder of ACORN. The brother embezzled near one $1 million from “ACORN and affiliated charitable organizations” according to the July 9, 2008 New York Times article. The embezzlement remained hidden until a”whistle-blower” forced ACORN to disclose it.

A small group of executives decided to cover up the fraud. They did this by carrying the $1 million on the books of Citizen Consulting, Inc., which is the accounting end of ACORN. Wade Rathke said his brother signed a secret agreement saying the family would make restitution .in exchange for hiding the embezzlement.

When Wade was asked about the decision to keep the fraud secret, this is the explanation he gave to the NYT. “The decision to keep the matter secret was not made to protect his brother but because of word of the embezzlement would have put a “weapon” into the hands of enemies of ACORN”. According to Wade, he had no idea his brother was committing fraud until alerted by an employee of Citizens Consulting concerning “suspicious credit card transactions”.

Both Wade and his brother remained on staff with ACORN until last month. Wade stepped down from ACORN but remains as the head organizer for ACORN International LLC. ACORN is now under the watchful eye of an interim management panel with the Executive Director of New York ACORN, Bertha Lewis, named as director.

(It is important to note that ACORN has been lobbying for the housing bill to pass since it would provide more financial gains or “slush funds” for them according to the online Wall Street Journal. However in light of the embezzlement they have fell silent.)

Voter Fraud

In my original article I uncovered three states that reported voter fraud linked to Project Vote, ACORN’s non-partisanship voter registration. Three states is an underwhelming number when they have been implicated in voter fraud in at least a dozen states. According to CRL. From 2003 until 2007, they were involved in voter fraud in the following states, Colorado, Virginia, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, and Nevada just to name a few more of the states ACORN has visited.

Wage and Labor Issues

According to a blog called bizzyblog, ACORN/Citizen’s Services have wage and labor issues. The list of problems includes: minimum wage (remember ACORN wants a living wage of $12/hr for workers), overtime pay , break and mealtime pay, payroll-keeping and employee classification issues. These issues are in connection with Citizen Services Inc, which was contracted to do the Get-Out-The-Vote work for the Obama for President campaign.

The Ohio canvassers, 250 alone in Columbus, Ohio by and large worked more than 40 hours per week. Some canvassers reported working 20+ hours of overtime for which they were never paid. Others said they were never paid time and a half for working more than 10+ hours overtime. ACORN/CSI absolutely refused to pay any overtime. The canvassers have filed various complaints with the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Office.

ACORN is currently under investigation by a government inspector from the DOL’s Columbus Office. He is not only investigating the problems in Ohio but checking nationwide for similar incidences of wage and hour issues.

ACORN’s Safety Issues

I know it is hard to believe but ACORN/CSI had safety issues that were brought to the attention of the Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) Columbus Office in their offices in Ohio. While they appear to be minor violations, a missing fire extinguisher and hazard communication, they are none the less on the OSHA website. The violations were reported in 2005 and closed in 2006 with no fine awarded for them.

ACORN’s Illegal Activity Continues Today

In summary we know that ACORN is linked to money laundering , misuse of grant money, embezzlement and voter fraud. What we actually see is what the Consumer Rights League found - “taxpayer money supported Corporate shakedown tactics, counseling of potential home buyers to use “undocumented” or “under the table” income to obtain
mortgages and obtaining mortgages for undocumented

Despite the whopping $25,000 fine by the State of Washington, ACORN has continued to commit voter fraud in almost every state Project Vote has visited. In March 2008 in the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, ACORN was linked to “bad voter registration cards”, they wanted to investigate but I have found no more information on an investigation. In June 2008 alone there were 90 voter registration cards stolen from ACORN in Las Cruces, NM and Project Vote admitted that 35% of all voter registration cards turned into Louisiana officials were duplicates.

Just when you think it can’t get any worse it does. On two subsequent days in this month alone, July 6 and 7, two more investigations are underway, one in Dauphin County, PA and one in Clark County, Nevada. In Nevada they are seeing 2000-3000 voter fraudulent voter registration cards turned in every week by ACORN.

Congress and its duty to investigate

The Consumer Rights League has its on agenda. It doesn’t like the housing bailout bill being offered up in the House (HR 3221) but it has started a petition to pressure to put pressure on Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA), Chairman of the Financial Services Committee to hold hearings on the fraud committed by ACORN. (Petition)

They have even suggested some fixes to the problem with ACORN and its fuzzy accounting methods and funneling of money from one entity to another. CRL has suggested three remedies to prevent further abuses of the governmental system by groups like ACORN. They are calling for “increased transparency” (requiring annual audits), they also said there is a need for “organization firewalls” (something missing from ACORN) and finally hit them in the pocketbook with “increased penalties for misuse of public funds”.

ACORN’s continued fraudulent behavior does hi-light a problem within our federal government. It shows that we don’t hold organizations like ACORN up to the light very well. No doubt things need to be changed. ACORN does need to be investigated. Are these the things Obama wants to change?

I am left with some questions after exposing so much more about ACORN. How much does Obama know about ACORN? Obama has used ACORN in his bid for the presidency. How much money has he paid them and who was it paid to? ACORN has 75 subsidiaries. Which subsidiary did Obama pay?


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