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Sunday, February 8, 2009

ACORN and Alinsky's Rule #13

Those that follow ACORN closely know that the organization is skilled in the fine art of Saul Alinsky and his strategies for organizing. Alinsky put his rules together in order provide a textbook for this without money or natural power to organize and to affect change without the sort of power and connections that those with power would have.

ACORN uses these fundamentals in order to harrass, manipulate and ultimately extort money from powerful people and organizations. Their tactics come from Alinsky rule #13: identify, isolate, freeze and escalate. The blue print works like this. ACORN will identify an individual, usually a powerful head of a powerful organization. They will show up in front of that person's home with several hundred protestors. Since these powerful folks normally live in quiet and wealthy suburbs, such a commotion will soon be the talk of the neighborhood. The message for this person's friends and neighbors will be clear "they are a bad person". By doing so, they will have isolated this person from their friends and neighbors. Soon, not only will the target themself be a pariah but so will their children. That is the process of isolation. At this point, the target thinks that things can't get worse, and it is then that ACORN only raises the stakes. Not only will ACORN, and their protestors, show up everywhere the target frequents: the mall, the movie theater, the library, etc, but they will be there before the target even shows up. As such, before the target even arrives to their shopping, ACORN will show up with a crew of several hundred to protest them.

All of this is done in order to beat the target into submission. For weeks and months, ACORN goes on a relentless campaign of harrassment in which a powerful CEO can't seem to shake this group. Wherever they go, ACORN is there, and often they are there before the target. One such campaign involved H&R Block. ACORN showed up at the home of then CEO, Mark Ernst. The relentlessly harrassed him all over his neighborhood. They showed up everywhere he frequented until he became a pariah in his own neighborhood. They finally got concessions. They teamed up to provide free tax service in low income areas. ACORN got a piece of H&R Block's Emerald Cards. Of course, that's what the media knows about. What's almost certain is that ACORN also received, and likely continues to receive, cash payments directly from H&R Block. Of course, we'll never know how much, if any, cash payments were transferred. That's because all cash that ACORN receives starts in their so called accounting firm, Citizen's Consulting Inc. Because both H&R Block and CCI are both private companies, seeing their books is next to impossible. As such any payments are hidden in the books of two companies that aren't sharing them.

Similar tactics to the ones employed to extort H&R Block were also used in the case of firms like Sherwin Williams and S.I.F.M.A. Just recently, ACORN began a campaign of protesting Wachovia. ACORN already has an agreement with Wells Fargo, in which Wells pays off ACORN in order to be left alone. Wells soon after bought out Wachovia, and so this tactic was made mostly as a message to WF to make sure that they continue with their agreement.

The only known such campaign like this to have failed is one perpetrated on David Rubenstein of the Carlyle Group. This campaign started in late 2007 and continued through February of 2008. ACORN initially followed Rubenstein as he received a humanitarian award. It's unclear why the campaign fizzled out, but ACORN became the subject of significant media scrutiny at exactly the time that the campaign was unfolding. First, it was finally revealed that Dale Rathke had embezzled millions from ACORN years earlier. This was of more significance because Dale Rathke is the brother of Wade Rathke, one of the founders of ACORN. Other stories like unpaid taxes and the violation of ERISA laws also originated in this period. It's unclear if this was orchestrated by Rubenstein or if it was just good timing for him. Either way, ACORN began facing all sorts of internal strife in this period and had to abandon the campaign.

Make no mistake, ACORN continues to look for any opportunity to apply Saulinsky rule #13 to put pressure and ultimately extort money from powerful individuals. The next time you read about an agreement between some business and ACORN to provide services to the underprivileged you should wonder if someone had their home picketed. If the rules of identify, isolate, freeze, and escalate were employed.


Anonymous said...

Another HUD-Alliliate THUG organization.

Anonymous said...

Those the rollover for ACORN and allow them to shake them down, make it many more times as hard on the next victim.

Forty percent (40%) of ACORN's revenue is derived from HUD, and I would estimate much more when they shakedown banks, lenders, mortgage brokers, and realtors and get their "donations" settlements, pretending to be HUD-sponsored "housing advocates".

The taxpayer actually pays for this reprehensible, if not illegal behavior. What the taxpayer can do is write their elected officials and ask that no taxpayer dollars be used to sponsor ACORN through HUD, or any other government organization. Also, request a congressional investigation into this organization and other unregulated HUD-financed organizations. The US Taxpayer needs to make it clear to elected officials that if financing to abusive HUD-sponsored organizations like ACORN are not stopped, then funding for HUD needs to be reduced. In the 1990's, there was a movement to abolish HUD. While the US Department of Housing and Urban Development sounds like an organization that would be helpful by its title, they actually have a history of destructive results.

I think it is time that we reevaluate HUD.

F. Allen Norman said...

See my article "Alinsky's Folly" on

F. Allen Norman said...

See my post on my blog at

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