11/4/08

ACORN's multi-level fraud for Obama

Wade Rathke stories: hereMore ACORN: herefraud: here

Founder Wade Rathke also founded SEIU, the jumbo militant gov't union

The 1.3 million "new voters" that ACORN announced that it had registered was inflated, by a factor of three. The real number: more like 450,000 according to its partner, Project Vote. About 400,000 registrations were rejected by election officials. The remainder? Voters changing addresses.

Is it too much to ask that Project Vote and ACORN update their website data? Note that ACORN now claims that it always talks about voter applications, but in this October article by ACORN's Executive Director the word used over and over is registrations. I quote: "[W]e helped register over 1.3 million low-income, minority, and young voters in a total of 21 states." If you're "registering" people, the implication is that these are new voters. I hate revisionist history.

Republicans have tried to paint ACORN as a dangerous, left-wing organization. There are truths about the organization that are far more troubling than over-the-top rhetoric about voter fraud or wild-eyed claims that ACORN helped cause the current financial crisis. More troublesome than my heartburn over refusal to admit when you are wrong.

Project Vote and ACORN

Project Vote, a federally-exempt nonprofit [501(c)3], has "hired" ACORN to drum up the voter registrations since 2004. ACORN is chartered in Louisiana as a nonprofit membership organization, not bound by the same restriction on political activity as Project Vote, the NY Times reported 21 October. A June internal ACORN report by DC attorney Elizabeth Kingsley outlined concerns about relationships among ACORN affiliates, possible partisan use of non-partisan money, insufficient affiliate governance (no Board meetings, no minutes), and an insular ACORN board (staff and members) without external audits.

As someone who was once a member of the American Society of Association Executives and a Certified Association Executive, I'm boggled that an almost 40-year-old multi-million dollar organization could be so poorly run. No wonder the organization has issues with back taxes.

Among other things, ACORN pays employees to collect new voter registrations; helps organize unions; and advocates for a "living wage" for Americans.

Exploiting Employees

However, the organization doesn't always walk its talk. According to a 2006 article in the Wall Street Journal, in 1995, ACORN sued California to try to exempt itself from paying the state minimum wage, which was higher than the federal minimum wage. (It lost).

In 2001, Seattle employees tried to join the Industrial Workers of the World; ACORN locked them out. After firing Texas workers for unionizing efforts, in 2003 the National Labor Relations Board " ordered Acorn to rehire and pay restitution to three employees it had illegally fired for trying to organize a union."

In 2004, ACORN was requiring 54-hour work weeks from employees in New Mexico.

A big whammy for me: the NY Times reported in July that ACORN hid a $1 million embezzlement from both its board and law enforcement for eight years! The embezzler, Dale Rathke -- brother of the organization's founder, remained on the ACORN payroll until the embezzlement became public. Why the silence? The "family agreed to repay the amount embezzled in exchange for confidentiality." As of July 2008, the family had reportedly paid about 20% of the debt.

The mission of ACORN is a noble one. It's a shame that it couldn't be more like Real Change, a Seattle-based organization that "create[s] opportunity and a voice for low-income people while taking action to end homelessness and poverty." Of course, it's a 501(c)3 organization, so there is limited politicking. And, as far as I know, no exploiting of workers.

(uspolitics.about.com)

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