by Kevin Mooney
November 20, 2010
Political operatives connected with renamed ACORN affiliates are in position to help swing close, competitive races for left-leaning candidates in the 2012 elections, according to former insiders and policy analysts who are familiar with the network’s operations.
An ambitious rebranding scheme that began earlier this year has now accelerated to include affiliates in at least 12 states. The bankruptcy filing the organization slyly submitted on Election Day is properly viewed as “a head fake” and a “public relations gimmick” arranged to distract attention away from the partisan political activities of renamed affiliates, sources say.
It is worth recalling that the organization known in full as the Association of Community Activists for Reform Now had initially denied reports that it would be dropping its tarnished name in press statements released in the summer of 2009. Wade Rathke, who founded ACORN in 1970, had announced on his blog that ACORN International, one of many affiliate organizations, had officially changed its name to “Community Organizations International.” Former board members who came together under the banner of ACORN 8 in response to an embezzlement scandal saw the move as a possible opener to a larger rebranding effort.
Scott Levenson, a spokesman for organization’s national leadership, issued a statement claiming that the name has not been dropped and that Rathke is no longer connected with ACORN.
“ACORN is not changing its name,” he declared. “ACORN International, is a five-year old organization from which ACORN withdrew a year ago as part of an overall restructuring process and requested that they stop using the ACORN name, which they have now done. Wade Rathke was fired as Chief Organizer of ACORN in June 2008.”
Just after ACORN’s leadership announced that it was dissolving its network on April 1 of this year, ACORN Housing, the national affiliate at the center of an undercover videotape investigation, renamed itself Affordable Housing Centers of America. Several state affiliates have now followed suit with at least one notable exception that has attracted a paucity of press coverage.
The ACORN Community Labor Organizing Center (ACLOC), which is registered in Louisiana and also maintains a strong presence in Texas, has served as a major conduit for political operations and could play a prominent role in the 2012 elections. The affiliate was prominently mentioned in a House Oversight Committee report that probed into ACORN’s financial transactions and political activities.
“According to a document provided by former ACORN employees, the ACORN Community Labor Organizing Center (“ACLOC”) led important campaigns including the Texas for Obama Campaign,” the report said. “According to the document, ACLOC raised 1.3 million dollars from political campaigns and delivered the funds directly to ACORN offices. The document noted, `[d]oes the ACORN association board want Wade [Rathke] to be this intimately involved in coordinating campaigns this close to ACORN?’ACORN readily acknowledged its partisan behavior.”
ACLOS is categorized as an “active” organization on the Louisiana Secretary of State’s web site, but it is also listed as being “Not in Good Standing for Failure to File Annual Report.”
Jacques Berry, the press secretary for Louisiana Secretary of State Jay Dardenne, said in an interview that ACLOS and other ACORN affiliates that have declined to submit their report could potentially lose their legal status.
“We are not an enforcement agency,” he explained. “We just change their designation of an organization if they miss their annual report anniversary and if they miss it three years in a row then we revoke their legal ability to do business in Louisiana. The annual report is not a financial document. It just includes basic information like name, address and if there’s any changes to any changes to pertinent information such as the makeup officers. Even if no changes are made, they need to file every year. We don’t get into financials at all that’s for the state department of revenue.”
ACLOC was founded in 2005 for purpose of building and fostering partnerships between community activists and organized labor, according to the group’s now defunct web site. In Canada, ACLOC provided “basic training” for recruits with Service Employee International Union (SEIU) who then moved into “Organizer Apprentice” positions. ACLOC has also partnered with the SEIU in Houston and Boston.
The ACORN labor group has also allied with the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) to provide “community support” for daycare providers. It also joined with the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) “to put pressure” on a grocery store chain in Arizona to allow for unionization.
There is no escaping the strong nexus that exists between ACORN and organized labor. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the current ranking minority member on the House Oversight Committee, has reported extensively on this partnership and how it relates to partisan political activities.
“SEIU/ACORN has leveraged its size, influence, and wealth to advance its policies and agendas through a complicated web of political connections, backroom negotiations, public relations, intimidation and litigation,” a February 2010 report observed. “SEIU/ACORN has spent millions of dollars and man hours supporting union friendly federal and state candidates and legislation. These connections are then used to entice employers into neutrality agreements with offers of government subsidies and union concessions.”
All told, organized labor has contributed over $10 million to ACORN, since 2005 with the SEIU contributing about $8.7 million of this sum including over $222,000 in 2009 alone, according to Labor Department records.
ACLOC was the single largest recipient of donations from the SEIU to ACORN and its many affiliates between 2005 and 2008, U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) LM-2 disclosure forms show.
The SEIU donations recorded on LM-2’s show the ACLOC Apprentice Program received $630,457 in 2008, $780,300 in 2007, $1.5 million in 2006, and $834,841 in 2005.
Going forward, the ACORN affiliates that have dropped the tarnished name may have greater flexibility and dexterity to solicit renewed financial support from long-times allies within organized labor and liberal foundations, notes Matthew Vadum, a senior editor and analyst with the Capital Research Center (CRC).
“This bankruptcy filing is really a public relations head fake,” he said. “ACORN is altering its organizational structure because the name has been sullied and damaged. But it remains a potent force.”
The rebranding scheme began in earnest on April 1 of this year when ACORN’s national leadership announced it was dissolving the existing network. But the highly publicized proclamation was intentionally misleading, sources say.
“Always note the date, April 1.” Marcel Reid, a former board member has observed. “ACORN is not dissolving, it may be morphing, but it is still is in business and it is still in a position to receive funding, although it may be done under different names.”
Just after the April 1 announcement, ACORN Housing Corp., the national affiliate at the epicenter of undercover video investigations, renamed itself Affordable Housing Centers of America.
Several state affiliates have also followed suit:
In California, ACORN is now the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (“ACCE”). In Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, ACORN is New England United for Justice. In New York, ACORN is New York Communities for Change. In Arkansas, ACORN has become Arkansas Community Organizations (“ACO”). In Louisiana ACORN is “A Community Voice.” In Missouri, ACORN is Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (“MORE”). In Washington State, ACORN is Organization United for Reform (“OUR”) Washington. In Minnesota, ACORN is Minnesota Neighborhoods Organizing for Change. In Pennsylvania, ACORN has become the Pennsylvania Communities Organizing for Change (“PCOC”) and Pennsylvania Neighborhoods for Social Justice, Inc. In Texas, ACORN is now the Texas Organizing Project and the Texas Organizing Project Education Fund.
Looking ahead to 2012, the key player here is Project Vote, the national affiliate responsible for orchestrating the voter registration efforts that have stirred controversy. It has been part of the ACORN network since at least 1992 when it employed Barack Obama, according to CRC.
Read more at NetRightDaily.com: http://netrightdaily.com/2010/11/rebranded-acorn-network-will-target-battleground-states-in-2012/#ixzz15v3WphOC
Is the “Old” New AGAIN?
Rathke, ACORN, SEIU, the Tides Foundation
The New York Times had then reported that the Tides Foundation has provided more than $400 million dollars since 2000 to various far left outlets, a good portion of that to ACORN affiliates alone. But the Tides Foundation had insisted that none of their money ever went to ACORN. At that time, they also stated that Drummond Pike was on a “leave of absence” from their board.
However, those claims of not having ever provided any money to ACORN weren’t exactly true. Right in plain sight on the Tides Foundation website are some of their prior Grantee lists. These are grants made up of primarily federal government dollars, some of which are then given to ACORN affiliates. Here is just a sampling of some of the ACORN grants indicated in those very lists from the Tides Foundation:
Fast forward a few years and there had been reports in 2008 that Obama himself had paid a very large sum of money to Citizens Services Inc. during his campaign. It was brought to light when an expenditure of nearly $900,000 by Barack Obama was reported to the Federal Elections Committee (FEC) for “sound & lighting equipment”, but was later officially amended after public attention and scrutiny was called to the expense and Obama had initially indicated it was recorded that way “in error”.
Despite the story having broken the news on a few occasions (originally researched by a blogger, msplaceddemocrat.com), including on Greta Van Susteren at Fox News, and in the Pittsburgh Tribune and The New York Times, it has always seemed to quiet down as quickly as it appeared.
Things seemed to get even odder the more that researchers, bloggers, reporters, and even just general American citizens started to try and make their own sense out of the connections. The twists and turns and number of names involved was just overwhelming and confusing. But one thing always stuck out like a sore thumb. One address:
1024 Elysian Fields Ave
New Orleans, LA
Noticeably, these are some of the other companies registered at the same address; some even sharing the same staff names, all registered under Wade Rathke or some other known ACORN affiliation:
- A. Corn
- Acorn Community Labor Organizing Center
- Acorn Community Land Association
- Acorn Housing Corp Of Illinois
- Acorn in New Orleans
- Acorn Institute
- Acorn National Broadcasting Network
- ACORN NATIONAL CALL
- Acorn Tenants Union
- Action Research
- Affiliated Media Foundation
- AFFILIATED MEDIA FOUNDATION MOVEMENT
- American Environmental Justice Project Inc
- American Home Day Care Workers Association
- AMFM, T
- Arkansas Institute for Social Justice
- Citizens Consulting Inc.
- Citizens Services Inc.
- Dale Rathke
- Gregory Fitch
- Institute for Social Justice Inc.
- JOANNE ACORN
- Labor Link
- LEE, MARIE A
- LITTLE, ROCK NEW
- Missouri, Tax J
- PERC Express Reserve
- Phoenix Organizing and Support Center, Inc.
- Project Vote
- PUGH, LITTLE ROC
- Service Employees Intl Union
- STREET, F
- TAX J MISSOURI
- Voting for America
- Wal-Mart (yes, really…)
- Wal-Mart Organizing Project
- WHIPPLE, WILLIAM
Looking through the Tides Foundation Grantees for 2009, this popped out:
Tides foundation is giving itself money? Or is this Soros’ money?
We are not racist.
We are not violent.
We are just NO LONGER SILENT.