The Issa report sheds light on ACORN’s damning conduct.
The election fraud factory known as ACORN should be stripped of its jealously guarded tax-exempt status because it illegally spends taxpayer dollars on partisan activities, commits “systemic fraud,” and violates racketeering and election laws, according to a congressional report unveiled yesterday.
Republican investigators on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee found that by “intentionally blurring the legal distinctions between 361 tax-exempt and non-exempt entities, ACORN diverts taxpayer and tax-exempt monies into partisan political activities.”
“Operationally, ACORN is a shell game played in 120 cities, 43 states and the District of Columbia through a complex structure designed to conceal illegal activities, to use taxpayer and tax-exempt dollars for partisan political purposes, and to distract investigators,” the report says. Structurally, it is “a chess game in which senior management is shielded from accountability by multiple layers of volunteers and compensated employees who serve as pawns to take the fall for every bad act.”
The report examines the ACORN network’s abusive interlocking directorates, and claims that the group deliberately organized itself to escape legal and public scrutiny. “ACORN hides behind a paper wall of nonprofit corporate protections to conceal a criminal conspiracy on the part of its directors, to launder federal money in order to pursue a partisan political agenda and to manipulate the American electorate.”
There is “a pattern of loose financial accounting and no firewalls” within the community-based group’s byzantine network of hundreds of affiliated groups, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California) told TV talk show host Glenn Beck yesterday.
“It’s very clear that that’s for a reason,” said Issa, ranking member on the committee. It is impossible to hand over government money “to ACORN and its affiliates without knowingly delivering it to partisan operatives who in fact engage in campaigning.”
The report was “specifically done so that the facts speak for themselves so that very clearly we could make the case that ACORN cannot be receiving government money and should lose its tax-free status,” the congressman said.
The unprecedented, damning new 88-page report —“Is ACORN Intentionally Structured As a Criminal Enterprise?” (PDF available here) — declares that “[t]he weight of evidence against ACORN and its affiliates is astounding.”
ACORN needs to be investigated criminally in order “to bring to justice the responsible parties who have heretofore been shielded from prosecution by ACORN’s obscure organizational structure; to protect the American system of democratic self-government from manipulation and disruption; and to free our political climate from the choke of corruption that threatens to strangle free and fair elections.”
It accuses the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now of carrying out “a nation-wide strategy of tax fraud, racketeering, money-laundering and manipulating the American electorate.” Specifically, the report accuses ACORN of racketeering, evading taxes, sloppy accounting, defrauding donors, defrauding the U.S. government, filing false statements, obstructing justice, and plundering employee pension funds.
The report singles out for special criticism the group’s handling of a nearly $1 million embezzlement around 2000 by Dale Rathke, then a senior ACORN employee who is the brother of ACORN founder Wade Rathke. The misappropriation was covered up by management, including Wade Rathke, for eight years until it was revealed to the group’s national board last summer.
The report notes that failing to report the misappropriation to the IRS in itself constitutes fraud, and that ACORN apparently raided pension funds to help cover the financial shortfall. ACORN also agreed last year to accept a bailout consisting of a $1 million loan and $500,000 in donations from Forest City Ratner, a developer that wants to build an ambitious project in Brooklyn, New York, to be called Atlantic Yards that would become, among things, the new home of the New Jersey Nets. The developer indicated in a letter to ACORN that it would disburse $500,000 in grants but the money wouldn’t go to ACORN directly. The grants were to be made to the ACORN Institute, one of ACORN’s tax-exempt nonprofit affiliates.
There are strings attached. ACORN previously signed an agreement to support the project in exchange for a commitment that the developer would build affordable housing, but the 2008 agreement with the developer provides that the ACORN Institute was to receive $300,000 of the $500,000 grant up front, with the remaining $200,000 to be paid out in equal installments in August 2009 and August 2010. With the current economy, it’s unclear if the housing will be built, and whether the money paid out will stay at the ACORN Institute, which trains aspiring community organizers, is anyone’s guess because ACORN routinely shuffles cash around its network.
The report also notes that Service Employees International Union (SEIU), two of whose locals are ACORN affiliates, was involved in discussions with now impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich over whom he planned to appoint to Barack Obama’s Senate vacancy in that state.
The report also points out that Wade Rathke, who was supposed to sever all ties with ACORN, hasn’t. To the contrary, he remains deeply involved with at least three of ACORN’s affiliated nonprofits.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
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H/T to National Review Online