ACORN is in fact not really one organization but rather a collection of many affiliates. These affiliates are all classified in a number of different ways. For instance, some are 501 (C)3's. A 501 (C)3 gets special treatment from the government and as such, it also must remain non partisan. Other affiliates are 501 (C)4's. This is a different classification of the tax code and such an organization can be partisan. The flagship, ACORN itself, is a 501 (C)4. It's get out the vote arm, Project Vote, is a 501 (C) 3.
Much of the malfeasance of ACORN comes from its nebulous relationship with a private company called Citizen's Consulting Inc. CCI is a sort of accounting and financial services firm. CCI also only has one client, or shall I say a series of clients...ACORN and all its affiliates. Whenever ACORN receives any money, be it from the federal governmnent or other resources, it first goes to CCI. Then, CCI filters that money to anyone of ACORN's affiliates. Of course, this creates all sorts of room for malfeasance. If the government were to give money to say Health Care for America Now to provide health care services in poor neighborhoods, that money will first wind up at CCI. Where that money ends up is anyone's guess. Why? That's because CCI is a private company and so getting a look at its books is no easy task. In fact, I doubt more than a handful of politicians even know the relationship between ACORN and CCI.
In fact, ACORN is such a sophisticated organization that often politicians will get on the floor of the legislature to rail against ACORN and then turn around and meet with one of their affiliates and authorize funding. That's because more times than not a politician has no idea that they are dealing with an ACORN affiliate.
The structure of ACORN is also rather sophisticated. ACORN has a board of directors but these folks have largely ceremonial titles. Most of the board are zealots of the cause. They rose through the ranks of ACORN often starting as foot soldiers fighting for causes near and dear to them. Since ACORN is often associated with causes for poor, most of the board are themselves poor. As such, they are often rather unsophisticated and thus will be overwhelmed by the sophisticated nature of the organization itself. In fact, the real power at ACORN lies in it executive committee. The executive committee is currently made up of Maude Hurd, Alton Bennett, Maxine Nelson, Carol Hemmingway, Alicia Russell, Pedra Reavis, and Marie Pierre.
There is no question that ACORN is ideological, however in reality ACORN is really driven by something much different than ideology. That drive is greed. ACORN's real goals aren't necessarily any sort of change but rather to create a plethora of constant campaigns. The work on such campaigns as living wage, universal health care, and providing housing for the poor. As such, whatever accomplishments like the Community Reinvestment Act had in influencing society, what they really did was provide ACORN with a nearly never ending platform.
The Community Reinvestment Act
United States federal law designed to encourage commercial banks and savings
associations to meet the needs of borrowers in all segments of their communities, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. The Act was intended to reduce discriminatory credit practices against such neighborhoods, a practice known as redlining. The Act requires the appropriate federal financial supervisory agencies to encourage regulated financial institutions to meet the credit needs of the local communities in which they are chartered, consistent with safe and sound
operation. (See full text of Act and current regulations.) To enforce the statute, federal regulatory agencies examine banking institutions for CRA compliance, and take this information into consideration when approving applications for new bank branches or for mergers or acquisitions.
allowed ACORN a never ending campaign in which ACORN would "enforce it". Enforce it they did and often with heavy handed tactics. They would picket banks, show up at homes of bank managers, and often demand boycotts of those banks they felt weren't complying with CRA. Because enforcing something like CRA is perpetual, CRA became a perpetual campaign. Worse yet, often ACORN would go directly to the federal government, through HUD, for funding. In other words, their heavy handed tactics were being subsidized by the tax payers. Of course, we'll never know how much money these campaigns got because all of it first started at CCI and then who knows where it wound up.
The mac daddy of ACORN, if you will, is Project VOTE. Project VOTE is their voter registration arm. It is also where their biggest malfeasance occurs. Because Project VOTE is a 501 (c) 3, it cannot support anyone candidate. What Project Vote is supposed to do is register voters anywhere anytime. Here's what really happens. ACORN, the 501 (C) 3, will back some candidates, often in local, county, and state elections, then they will disperse Project VOTE only in those areas where the candidates they support have a significant voter advantage. This sort of cherry picking is completely against the law. It also allows a 501 (c)3 to get around their supposed non partisan status. Do they register voters? Absolutely, except the overwhelming majority of the voters registered favor one candidate, the one that ACORN is backing. They get away with this because most politicians don't even know that Project VOTE is affiliated with ACORN let alone the scheme they run.
ACORN has hundreds of affiliates though no one, outside the insiders, knows exactly how many. It likely receives hundreds of millions of Dollars from the government. Though again, no one is sure because all of it is hidden by using the private CCI as an initial weigh station. It works with HUD, HHS, and the Department of Labor along with a host of philanthropies in order to continue its operations. All of it is done in the shadows through a very sophisticated network of affiliates and one private company, CCI, doling out the money. By doing this, it becomes nearly impossible to track its activities. What I have brought to light is only scratching the surface but should give everyone an idea of just how powerful and dangerous ACORN is.