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ACORN in aTrouble

I first became aware of the organization called ACORN during the 2008 presidential election. They came under attack by conservative pundits, but that was beaten back and the issue seemed to go away.

Until now. Here’s part of the recent Washington Post article giving an overview to the issue. Seems like mismanagement and fraud has been taking place. How will this taint the Democrats? We’ll talk about it this week on the radio, but feel free to weigh in now.

“The liberal political organizing group ACORN faced internal chaos and allegations of financial mismanagement and fraud long before two young conservatives embarrassed the group with undercover videos made at field offices in Washington and across the country.

Internal ACORN documents show an organization in turmoil as last year’s presidential election approached, with a board torn over how to handle embezzlement by the founder’s brother and growing concern that donor money and pension funds had been plundered in the insider scheme.

Minutes from a meeting ACORN held in Los Angeles last summer reveal a group then on the brink of financial collapse. “Currently owe over $800k to IRS,” the minutes note. “Haven’t paid medical bills of over $300k. We are essentially ‘broke’ nationally and lots of offices are struggling.”

Some top ACORN officials tried to shield the scheme, which involved Dale Rathke, the brother of ACORN founder Wade Rathke. “Leadership has no faith in staff. Wade betrayed them,” the minutes said.

The documents present a troubling picture of one of the nation’s leading social justice advocacy groups, with more than 400,000 members, offices in 75 cities and an expanding international presence.

ACORN, or Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, was founded in 1970 and is supported in part by government grants. It has forged relationships with banks, federal and state agencies, and nonprofit groups that have made it a major force in helping low-income families buy homes and in bringing marginalized voters to the polls. The ACORN political action committee endorsed Barack Obama in February 2008.

ACORN said in a statement Saturday that it has taken “decisive action” to correct problems detailed in the documents, which it said were stolen and leaked to investigators for a House oversight committee. Spokesman Brian Kettenring said ACORN has reorganized, severed its connections to Wade Rathke and “been made whole relative to the monies stolen in 1999-2000.” He also said that “arrangements have been or are being made to correct all tax delinquencies.”

An investigation by Republican members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform also showed that there was concern within ACORN that its voter outreach efforts, which are required to be nonpartisan, were aimed at electing Democratic candidates, a key complaint of conservative critics.”

Read the rest of the article at the Washington Post

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