The Spectacle Blog

AmeriCorps and ACORN Go Way Back

By on 6.17.09 | 8:02PM

The cynical, politically motivated, and apparently illegal firing of AmeriCorps Inspector General Gerald Walpin shocks the conscience.

I'm not going to examine here the circumstances surrounding the termination of Walpin but I do wish to remind readers that AmeriCorps has long been ripe for abuse.

ACORN took advantage of the federal agency a decade ago. As I wrote previously, ACORN, which is now notorious for its commingling of funds within its network of affiliates, used government resources to promote legislation.

A congressional report noted that there was "apparent cross-over funding between ACORN, a political advocacy group and ACORN Housing Corp. (AHC), a non profit, AmeriCorp [sic] grantee" that is a major affiliate of ACORN.

The government-funded AmeriCorps, which promotes public service, suspended AHC's funding "after it was learned that AHC and ACORN shared office space and equipment and failed to assure that activities and funds were wholly separate."

The report noted that, "AmeriCorps members of AHC raised funds for ACORN, performed voter registration activities, and gave partisan speeches. In one instance, an AmeriCorps member was directed by ACORN staff to assist the [Clinton] White House in preparing a press conference in support of legislation." ("Report on the Activities of the Committee on Economic and Educational Opportunities During the 104th Congress," Report 104-875, January 2, 1997)

Aware of this kind of abuse, earlier this year Sen. David Vitter (R-Louisiana) tried to block ACORN from using AmeriCorps funding to promote its own political objectives, but ACORN allies, including Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland), helped to defeat Vitter's legislation.

Incidentally, as I write this, ACORN donors are celebrating the 39th birthday of the radical activist group at a $250 a ticket gala reception at the National Education Association. Center for American Progress president John Podesta, SEIU union boss Andy Stern, and corrupt former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros are expected to attend.

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