The Spectacle Blog

The Politico Gets Played By ACORN

By on 9.29.09 | 5:59PM

One thing that journalists don't seem to get about ACORN is that it is a strange, complex creature with tentacles that reach into the highest levels of the United States government, the Democratic Party, corporate America, the labor movement, the nonprofit world, the media, foreign governments, and academia.

ACORN has a confusing structure and its network of who-knows-how-many taxpayer-funded tax-exempt nonprofit affiliates. As I've written ad nauseam, this is deliberate.

Understandably, given the complexity of the ACORN network, it is a constant struggle to educate my fellow journalists about ACORN.

The Politico's Ben Smith is a living case study showing what happens when sincere, well-meaning journalists write about something they do not understand.

ACORN, quite predictably, claims Patrick Gaspard who is now an extremely close advisor to President Obama, didn't work for it.

Smith just got played by ACORN -- big time.

I didn't publish all the evidence I have of Gaspard's ties to ACORN.

Here's a question for skeptics like Smith: If Gaspard isn't part of ACORN, why did he sign a letter to the editor of the Nation magazine (dated July 2, 2001) on behalf of ACORN affiliate the Working Families Party of New York? (In case you don't believe the party is part of ACORN read ACORN's website which states that in 1998, "ACORN members spearhead[ed] formation of the Working Families Party, the first community-labor party with official ballot status in New York state in more than 50 years.")

Lest someone accuse me of journalistic malfeasance, I produce the entire text of Lewis and Gaspard's letter to the Nation here:

New York City

■ Doug Ireland's offhand comments about the Working Families Party's role in the upcoming municipal elections in New York City were inaccurate and hurtful ["Those Big Town Blues," June 4]. He wrote that the WFP "could have played a role in recruiting Council candidates" but did not because the progressive unions took no initiatives and ACORN was distracted by its fight against the Edison Corporation.

Speaking for two affiliates of the WFP-ACORN and SEIU/1199-I say that this is dead wrong. We have been involved in a marvelous WFP-initiated process that has included scores of neighborhood and borough meetings, a remarkable series of interviews with more than 100 potential candidates, worksite presentations on the issues by WFP workplace captains, the ongoing recruitment of neighborhood captains and much more. We had more than 1,000 people at a WFP mayoral forum and have won concrete commitments on our living-wage bill from candidates across the city. Until the WFP, there was no group trying to pull together a community-labor-religious coalition to move ideas, people, money and energy in contests from Nassau County to Niagara Falls.

The WFP slate for this year's city elections will have more union members, community activists and progressives than any slate in memory. We hope Nation readers will vote for, work for and send money to all the WFP endorsed WFP endorsed candidates for primaries and the general election.

BERTHA LEWIS, ACORN, WFP

PATRICK GASPARD, SEIU STATE COUNCIL, WFP

[emphasis added]

Understanding ACORN's family tree takes time and a great deal of perseverance but after studying ACORN intensively for more than a year, I think I have a handle on how it works.

The part relevant to our story here today goes like this:

*The Working Families Party of New York is an affiliate of both ACORN and SEIU Local 1199, according to current ACORN chief organizer Bertha Lewis and her protégé Patrick Gaspard.

In other words, the Working Families Party is ACORN. There may be fine legal distinctions, they may file disclosure documents with different government agencies, but they are one and the same. I've been saying this for the past year and it's gratifying that people are finally listening.

Incidentally, the letter to the editor also reveals that SEIU Local 1199, which no one denies Gaspard used to work for, is also apparently an ACORN affiliate. At least that's what the wording used by Lewis and Gaspard suggests.

The oneness of the Working Families Party and ACORN was put on display last fall for all of America to see when WFP co-founder and current ACORN chief organizer Bertha Lewis appeared in a video endorsing Barack Obama for president of the United States.

Here's the video:

[Sorry, but I am having trouble embedding the video. Here is a link to it. -MV]

I wrote about this Obama endorsement from Bertha Lewis, the Working Families Party, and ACORN at NewsBusters.

ACORN identifies its affiliates as ACORN affiliates when it is convenient and claims the same entities are not ACORN affiliates when it is not. This game of nonprofit musical chairs is standard operating procedure at ACORN whenever things get hot. ACORN's friends at the Huffington Post and Media Matters for America have done the same thing with Project Vote, which Obama worked for. They say Project Vote may be an ACORN affiliate now but it wasn't way back when President Obama worked for it.

This is what ACORN does. It's good at it. Whenever ACORN gets in trouble it cries "racism" and "voter suppression" and its critics run away with their tails between their legs. This sort of subterfuge isn't working anymore now that the American public saw how ACORN really operates in the undercover illegal alien sex slave sting operation videos so brilliantly conceived and executed by James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles.

ACORN has been engaged in a campaign of deception about its SEIU affiliates, Local 100 headed by ACORN founder Wade Rathke and Local 880 headed by ACORN bigwig Keith Kelleher who happens to the husband of Madeline Talbott. Talbott, you may recall, is a radical agitator whose close personal ties to President Obama are extensively documented. Here's just one tidbit from National Review Online.

ACORN scrubbed its website of references to SEIU 100 and 880 earlier this year. Why would ACORN do that?

As for Wade Rathke, he is a brilliant man. Those who know him say his intellect rivals that of Thomas Jefferson, or so they've told me.

Rathke isn't known for making errors of fact. Errors of judgment, sure, as in the case where he covered up his brother's $948,000 embezzlement from ACORN for eight years, but not facts.

Pretending to be a senile old man, the ACORN founder just issued a "correction" of an old blog post that raises more questions than it answers. After all the trouble he caused for the ACORN network, it was the least he could for the network that still employs his wife, Beth Butler, and reportedly his two children.

Ya gotta help your friends -- and your family.

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