Here is a chart of ACORN's hierarchy.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, the top of the power structure of ACORN is its Executive Committee. The head of this committee is Maude Hurd. The Executive Committee is much like the Board of Directors in a corporation. Much like with many corporations, the Executive Committee is made up mostly of folks that rarely challenge the upper level management. In the case of ACORN, the Executive Committee is mostly made up true believers and life long members of ACORN. These are folks with years of experience on "the ground". In other words, these are folks that were the ones signing up new voters, knocking on doors, working with churches and whatever other grass roots campaigns that ACORN might have had.
While there is a lot of potential for power in the board, the board members are often not nearly sophisticated enough to use it. Up until about a year ago, the real power was held by the CEO, Wade Rathke. Rathke ran ACORN for 38 years since its beginning. Nearly ten years ago, his brother, Dale, then the CFO of ACORN, embezzled about a million dollars from ACORN. Both Rathke brothers are still involved in ACORN by running the New Orleans branch of the SEIU. Dale Rathke is also was the CFO of Citizen's Consulting Inc, the accounting and consulting firm for ACORN and all its affiliates. Meanwhile, Dale Rathke's wife, Beth Butler, is the Regional Director of the Southern States of ACORN.
Since Rathke's departure, there has also been a power structure within ACORN. When Rathke was the CEO, the New Orleans branch was the most powerful branch of ACORN. Now it's the New York branch of ACORN. That branch is ran by the Kest brothers, John and Steve. The new CEO of ACORN, replacing Rathke, is Bertha Lewis. With New York flexing their proverbial muscle, it's unclear if Lewis is calling the day to day shots or if the Kest brothers are really the center of power.
Now, like I have said more than once, all the money that ever gets funneled through ACORN starts at Citizen's Consulting Incorporated. Then, it gets filtered into anyone of more than a hundred affiliates. These affiliates are in one of five separate categories: housing organization division, faith community based organizing division, labor organizing division, media management, and real estate and property management division. The housing division builds homes for the poor a la Habitat for Humanity. The labor division works on such issues as union organizing, living wages, and other labor matters. (Ironically enough, ACORN is itself not unionized and usually comes down very hard on anyone that attempts to unionize it but more on this in another piece). It's media division is in charge of getting out the message of ACORN and they have dabbled in both radio and television stations. The property management division manages and invests in real estate. This is a very powerful portion of ACORN because most of these affiliates are for profits.
So, how does the criminality happen? Well, money is "earmarked". In fact, HUD itself is a major contributor to ACORN. After all, they have a whole division that deals with housing. This check goes to Citizen's Consulting Incorporated. Sometimes, it will go to say ACORN Beverly LLC to build homes in underprivileged areas. Other times it might end up in say the ACORN National Broadcasting Network so that ACORN can mount a media defense of itself. Of course, the money was earmarked not so that ACORN could mount a media campaign but to build homes for poor folks. This is patently illegal and it happens routinely at ACORN.
How does it happen? First, CCI is a private company. No one, including members of the ACORN board, have ever been allowed to see the books of CCI. Since CCI runs the books of ACORN and all its hundreds of affiliates, this means that no one has ever seen the books of ACORN and all its affiliates. In other words, once anyone gives money to ACORN or any of its affiliates it goes down a financial black hole that is impossible to trace. Trying to track it is impossible because ACORN is in fact a network of hundreds of loosely knit groups. Furthermore, the entry point, CCI, has resisted all calls to open up its books.