A Federal report titled, “Follow the Money: ACORN, SEIU and their Political Allies“ has surfaced shedding light on the questionable misconduct surrounding ACORN.
We’ve heard reference to ACORN and SEIU but few of us understand what these organizations do or who they represent.
To better understand the impact of the federal report a brief review is provided before digging into the report itself.
Who is ACORN and SEIU?
ACORN stands for Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now — ACORN is the nation’s largest community organization of low- and moderate-income families with a goal of social justice and stronger communities. ACORN campaigns for better housing, schools, neighborhood safety, health care and job conditions. ACORN has a family of organizations including radio stations, a voter registration network, a housing corporation, and several publications.
SEIU stands for Service Employees International Union — As the fastest growing union in North America it is 2.2 million members strong. It’s the largest property services union, the largest security union and the second largest union of public service employees. That is to say SEIU represents members who protect and clean commercial and residential office buildings, private security officers, public safety personnel, local and state government workers, public school employees, bus drivers, and child care providers. SEIU also represents over 1 million health care workers. SEIU represents more immigrant workers than any other union in the United States.
What’s happened since we heard ACORN federal funding would stop last year?
Months ago, when it was discovered that ACORN was corrupt many Americans sighed a breath of relief to know that ACORN would no longer receive taxpayer funds from the federal government.
Since the defunding of ACORN last year the media has been silent on the topic. (((crickets = chirp chirp)))
You may have thought the issue was resolved and your tax dollars were safe. But that wasn’t the whole story and it definitely wasn’t over.
If you recall, July 2009 saw the first ACORN report identifying ACORN as “a single corrupt corporate enterprise composed of a series of holding companies and subsidiaries that are financially and operationally dependent upon the main corporation.”
The initial report went on to say “ACORN used a complex organizational structure of overlapping nonprofit community initiatives and political lobbying activities to conceal the partisan political use of taxpayer and private monies originally designated for the public benefit”
ACORN sued the United States of America arguing the move to defund as unconstitutional.
ACORN was allowed to amend its pleadings and challenge all of the anti-ACORN laws as unconstitutional.
Under the Judge’s decision, ACORN would continue to receive taxpayer dollars from the Federal Government.
A December forum found:
• There needs to be oversight over the Department of Justice and Federal Bureau of Investigation for failing to address and put an end to ACORN’s illegal activities.
• Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita informed the U.S. Attorneys Office of the Northern District of Indiana as well as the FEC about violations of federal law in Indiana, neither office took any action against ACORN.
• There are 691 bank accounts of ACORN and ACORN affiliates at Whitney Bank in New Orleans, Louisiana.
• ACORN owns stock at Whitney Bank.
• In 2006, Whitney Bank inexplicably wired several million dollars to an ACORN Bank of America account in San Francisco.
• The City of New Orleans, after Hurricane Katrina, gave ACORN 121 pieces of property which ACORN was to give to low-income families but, instead, ACORN rented out these properties for a profit.
• ACORN Housing owns millions of dollars worth of property.
• ACORN uses its membership drives to raise revenue and build political power.
The 2/18/10 report by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform indicated that since late July of 2009 the committee has reviewed over 50,000 pages of documents involving the ACORN investigation.
This new report adds recent evidence confirming the previous findings of ACORN’s misconduct in addition to a closer examination of ACORN’s financial transactions and fundraising that define the organization as a political machine.
Hundreds of ACORN bank accounts, shell organizations incorporated under different sections of the internal revenue code, and even an ACORN controlled accounting firm (Citizens Consulting Inc.) that helps ACORN obscure the true use of charitable donations and taxpayer funds have been uncovered by Committee investigators.
The report made four crucial findings:
1. ACORN and SEIU‘s illegal agreements, and the crimes committed in furtherance of these agreements, constitutes a criminal conspiracy.
2. There is a pattern, signature or “trade secret” of corruption common to all ACORN affiliates called “Muscle for the Money.”
3. ACORN, as a corporation, is responsible for thousands of fraudulent voter registrations throughout the United States.
4. ACORN contributed to the risky lending that led to the financial collapse.
There is no distinction between ACORN and any of its affiliates. Affiliates share staff, funds, office space, responsibilities, and common controls–there is no real separation between the parts, making it impossible to consider them as truly separate organizations. All of ACORN’s non-profit affiliates give substantial amounts of money to Citizens’ Consulting, Inc., an arm of ACORN that commingles funds from ACORN’s nonprofit organizations and transfers this money to organizations to use for political purposes. ACORN receives large amounts of money from its nonprofit affiliates without making substantial returns to the affiliates. An examination of the accounting documents shows the American Institute for Social Justice (AISJ) transfers a particularly large amount of its funds, which come in part from the federal government and other ACORN affiliates receiving federal money, to ACORN’s national organization, presumably for political purposes.
• There is a pattern, method or “trade secret” of corruption common to all ACORN affiliates called “Muscle for the Money.” One method is the use of litigation and commingled funds to engage in prohibited electioneering activities. The other method is an SEIU-funded enterprise involving threats and litigation aimed to secure ACORN’s corporate financing. ACORN filed corporate income tax with the Internal Revenue Service and failed to file a Form 990, a requirement for non-profit status in several states where ACORN does business. In some states, ACORN fraudulently informed state Secretary of States that it was tax-exempt in order to avoid state corporate taxes.
• SEIU and ACORN are not only financially but also politically codependent. ACORN directly runs two of the most prominent SEIU locals. ACORN has received several million dollars from SEIU. SEIU shares offices with ACORN in nine cities across the United States, utilizing SEIU staff and resources to advance both organizing and political goals.
• 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. 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.
• ACORN Housing Corporation (AHC) used agreements with banks to provide a variety of benefits for their organization, creating policies that were not necessarily beneficial to and sometimes exploited, the low-income citizens they claim to help.
• The AHC used the Community Reinvestment Act provisions and coercive threats to force banks into lowering loan underwriting standards and entering into agreements that funneled profits to ACORN.
I urge everyone to read the entire 68 page (pdf format) report titled: “Follow the Money: ACORN, SEIU and their Political Allies.”
It has been reported that ACORN has suspended most operations nationwide.
Allegedly, new and different local names are popping up nationwide in an effort to rebrand themselves.