ACORN hits the reset button

Rathke embezzlement cited, not TIDES-Pike role
California ACORN has broken away from its embattled parent organization to form a new nonprofit group, a move that observers say might foreshadow other defections that would seriously undermine one of the nation's largest and most politically powerful community organizations.

The new group will have the same mission, will be staffed by many of the same employees who worked for ACORN, and will be funded by most of the same donors, said Amy Schur, the former head organizer for California ACORN.

Schur sits on the interim board of directors for the new group, the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, which was incorporated in California on Monday. ACCE is seeking federal nonprofit status.

A spokesman for ACORN declined to comment.

In 2008, it was revealed that top ACORN leaders had tried to hide the embezzlement of nearly $1 million from the organization nine years ago by the brother of ACORN founder Wade Rathke.

John Atlas, a New Jersey writer who recently completed a history of ACORN, said that members with similar complaints in other states were considering following California's lead. He and others said donor support has plummeted.

"The foundations that have been keeping ACORN going, they've cut ACORN off at the knees," said Peter Dreier, a professor at Occidental College who teaches community organizing.
(from latimes.com)

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