Monday, October 12, 2009

ACORN, part 3 - the Scandals and Controversies

Today we'll wrap up the ACORN series by talking about their scandals and controversies. There are a number of them and some are truly shocking.
  1. Voter registration fraud - ACORN generated over 1.3 Million voter registrations during the 2008 election season in 21 states. A number of ACORN's employees have been charged with voter registration fraud and fired by ACORN as "rogue" employees. ACORN has also been charged with having a quota system where employees were paid based upon the number of voter registrations obtained. Amazingly, it appears that this quota system may have encouraged ACORN employees to submit fraudulent forms. The more they submitted, the more they got paid.
  2. Home Defender program - ACORN has encouraged people whose homes have been foreclosed on to engage in civil disobedience against the foreclosure eviction process by refusing to leave and even moving back in. Basically, this program has encouraged people to break the law.
  3. Housing crisis - The 1977 Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) made it easier for individuals with low to moderate incomes to obtain home loans. ACORN "negotiated" with banks to get them to offer sub-prime mortgages to individuals who otherwise might not have qualified. According to some, this may have played a role in the current housing crisis and recession.
  4. Unions - in 2003, ACORN laid off two employees who were in negotiations with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to organize a union within ACORN. The National Labor Relations Board ordered that the employees be reinstated and that ACORN cease union-busting activities. Interestingly, ACORN and the SEIU are now best buddies who work together on a variety of issues including health care and the minimum wage. In fact, the SEIU donates millions to ACORN every year and even shares office space with them.
  5. Dale Rathke - the brother of ACORN founder Wade Rathke embezzled nearly $1 Million from ACORN and affiliated charities. The matter was handled internally. Dale was dismissed and Wade stepped down as chief organizer. Dale served no jail time. Instead, a restitution agreement was reached. Two members of ACORN's board of directors then filed a lawsuit asking for financial disclosures. They were then removed from office leading to allegations of a cover-up.
  6. Barack Obama - got his start as a community organizer with ACORN. Obama and others served as local counsel for ACORN in a 1995 voting rights lawsuit. His campaign then paid ACORN $800,000 to conduct a get-out-the-vote campaign for the 2008 Democratic Presidential Primary prompting some to make conflict of interest accusations. These accusations combined with charges of voter fraud led to questions about the accuracy of the 2008 presidential election results.
  7. The undercover videos - in September 2009, a series of videos was made public showing ACORN employees advising a pimp and a prostitute on how to commit tax fraud and smuggle underage girls into the country to be prostitutes. ACORN is currently involved in lawsuits against the filmmakers. The videos led to the U.S. House and Senate voting to cut off all ACORN funding and the Census Bureau terminated plans to have ACORN participate in the 2010 census.
I'm sure along the way ACORN has done some good things to help the poor and other disadvantaged individuals. However, the organization has a controversial past and some questionable affiliations which leads to the question - why were they receiving taxpayer funding in the first place ??

sources : Wikipedia, Glenn Beck show
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