Never can it say it or its apologists say it wasn’t warned — and in such detail, as lawyer Elizabeth Kingsley’s memo reveals.
“But whether you try to implement some or all of these
recommendations, there must be someone committed to follow-up.
There must be a review mechanism, and a means of holding people
accountable after any final decisions are made. If you do not
make some hard choices now and
ensure they are carried out, they almost certainly
will be made for you.”
— attorney Elizabeth Kingsley of Harmon, Curran, Spielberg Eisenberg LLP, in a prophetic legal memo to ACORN dated June 19, 2008, the day before ACORN’s national board ousted ACORN founder organizer Wade Rathke.
ACORN’s lawyer warned ACORN 15 months ago to begin fixing its massive internal problems or face certain catastrophe. ACORN didn’t listen. It let the problems fester.
The advice from Elizabeth Kingsley of Harmon, Curran, Spielberg Eisenberg LLP came in the form of an eerily prophetic legal memo to ACORN dated June 19, 2008, the day before ACORN’s national board fired disgraced founder Wade Rathke.
The memo is a kind of Holy Grail for ACORN researchers. One source of mine keeps a copy in a safety deposit box. I’ve lost track of how many people have asked me over the last year if I knew how to get a hold of it. One source told me yesterday that there are many people who would “kill” to gain possession of it. This is a bit of an exaggeration perhaps, but not much.
In articles by investigative reporter Stephanie Strom, the New York Times has published excerpts of the document. Incidentally, aspects of the Old Gray Lady’s coverage of ACORN were top-notch last year until management made a conscious decision to suppress Strom’s reporting before Election Day, apparently for political reasons.
Bearing the subject line “Initial Report on Organizational Review,” the Kingsley memo is addressed to ACORN and major affiliates ACORN Beneficial Association, ACORN Housing Corp., ACORN Institute, ACORN Votes, American Institute for Social Justice, Citizens Consulting Inc., Citizens Services Inc., Communities Voting Together, Pennsylvania Institute for Community Affairs Inc., and Project Vote (formal name: Voting for America Inc.).
The complete memo will be posted at Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment.com later today. It consists of sequentially numbered pages, but one page — page 14 — is missing, so in my file page 13 abruptly jumps to page 15. My source, who insists on anonymity, says the document arrived in that form via a fax machine. I have not retouched or altered the document in any way except where I superimposed the logo of the think tank I work for, Capital Research Center.
Underscoring how important the document is to ACORN, all pages except the first page bear lawyerly caveats at the top: “Sensitive Report — Do Not Distribute Beyond Initial Recipient List.” Perhaps that’s community organizer-speak for “TOP SECRET.”
The Kingsley memo paints a picture of a once-proud activist conglomerate in utter meltdown and confirms some of the most serious allegations about ACORN now being heard on Capitol Hill.
The problems within ACORN, she admits, are systemic.
Kingsley explains that her concerns fall into four major categories: “respect for corporate integrity, the necessary separation between different types of political work, the niceties of 501(c)(3) tax compliance and accounting for those funds, and a big-picture question about organizational capacity.” She goes to great pains explaining that she is not trying to single any person out, “but to point to systemic institutional concerns.”
Americans who follow the news know that the activities of the ACORN network, a tangled mess of interlocking directorates and affiliated tax-exempt groups that routinely swap seven-figure checks, have long cried out for a probe under federal racketeering laws. The undercover prostitution sting videos that began popping up at BigGovernment.com in mid-September made America intensely interested in ACORN for the first time. While the mainstream media is now covering ACORN, kind of, sort of, no longer can ACORN be said to be the exclusive preserve of Fox News Channel and conservative talk show hosts.
In her reference manual for left-wing activists, The Practical Progressive, Erica Payne reports ACORN’s total 2008 budget was $50 million. Surely that figure is too low.
The network has taken in at least $107 million in donations and $53 million in federal funds since 1993, yet it owes millions of dollars in back taxes and is eligible for up to $8.5 billion in federal funding this year.
No one really knows how big the entire ACORN network’s budget is. One of the reasons is that tracking housing and community development grants administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is difficult. HUD often distributes the money to states and localities, which then allot the funds to many different nonprofit groups. Getting a total financial picture would require enlisting an army of Freedom of Information Act requesters.
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.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?