ACORN is rotten to the core and in need of major reform but they continue to function and even thrive despite the public record being filled with so much evidence of criminality that it's not unfair to refer to them as a RICO organization. (Racketeering Influence Corruption Organization) They are allowed to function because the media in general has done an awful job of getting to the heart of the story. The MSM has simply ignored their criminality and then subsequent influence over our political structure. Meanwhile, the conservative media is so desperate to tie ACORN to major politicians like the president that they totally miss the heart of the story. That's because at the heart the story is NOT ACORN's alliance with President Obama. At heart, the story is a criminal organization that continues to pervert their original purpose through systemic corruption and criminality. The reason that this criminality and corruption is important is NOT merely because of their connection to President Obama but to politicians, influence peddlers, and power brokers of all shapes and sizes on all sides of the political spectrum. So, here is how you bring them down.
1) Make the story what it is, not what you want it to be
I would be hard pressed to find a story on the conservative blogosphere in which ACORN is mentioned without President Obama being mentioned. That's why some in the media are fixated on ACORN's connection to the census. Their actual connection is still to be determined. That doesn't stop many in the media from writing endlessly about this connection. I'm not saying this isn't a story. It is, but there's nothing ACORN would like more than for their political opponents to spend endless time hyper ventilating about their loose connection to the census. By doing so, you also miss the real story.
For instance, while everyone in the press was hyper ventilating about this connection, almost the entire media missed a significant story of ACORN corruption in St. Louis. It was first reported by Nancy Armstrong of Ms Placed Democrat. In St. Louis, ACORN received $100,000 to do loan modifications. The problem is that they only did 34 and charged $750 per loan modification. That's only $18,000, and NO ONE, not ACORN not the city of St. Louis can account for the other $82,000. The implication is massive. First, the city was robbed of $82,000. Second, the money could have gone anywhere else in the ACORN universe. For all we know, that $82,000 is now being spent to help pass universal health care. If you're a Republican in St. Louis, how would you feel about your city dollars being spent to help ACORN help the Democrats pass universal health care.
In fact, former ACORN board member, Gwen Cogshell, held a news conference in late June to recount the details of this scam. The only news media that attended was a documentary news crew from Fox News. Why? Why was this story ignored by the media? I know why the MSM, including those in St. Louis, ignored it. Why would the conservative media ignore this? Isn't an $82,000 fraud perpetrated on the citizens of St. Louis news? Isn't fresh evidence of criminality by a criminal organization news? I'd suspect that one reason it was ignored is because no one could tie President Obama to the story. As such, an important story of corruption and criminality was ignored. Of course, if the media ignores crime and corruption, criminal enterprises, like ACORN, are able to continue to engage in it.
The other problem is that ACORN is so shadowy and organic that many in the media see a conspiracy everywhere in covering. Nothing is as it is, and so everything is turned into some sort of sleight of hand. Glenn Beck is a great example of this. He's talked to so many insiders who have told him so much about the shadowy manner in which ACORN operates that he now sees a machiavellian plot everywhere. The so called name change is a great example. About a month ago, nearly the entire conservative media breathlessly reported that ACORN had changed its name. The only problem was that it wasn't true. In fact, ACORN International, the organization now run by Wade Rathke (former CEO of ACORN and brother of embezzler Dale Rathke) changed its name. This non story was turned into a major story by a breathless conservative media trying to turn nothing into something. This lead to days of endless speculation. Beck was now convinced that Wade Rathke, who was officiall removed as CEO of ACORN last summer following the revelation that he covered up his brother's embezzlement, was actually secretly running ACORN. His only evidence was this supposed name change and endless speculation that he came up with himself and that other insiders suggested might be going on.
The problem with making the story what you want it to be rather than what it is, is that you turn into a propagandist. One of the reasons that the ACORN story hasn't reached the mainstream is that most of the folks that do report on it ultimately turn into propagandists. Between endless speculation that ACORN will rewrite districts using their new power in the census, endless loose connections to the White House, and false stories that they commit voter fraud and thus change elections. (there is no documented evidence of voter fraud, only voter registration fraud which is something wholly different) the rest of the public doesn't care because most people don't respond to propaganda.
When conservatives tie ACORN to every bad deed ever created, it looks as though conservatives are creating a boogeyman. ACRON must be presented as it is, not as the conservatives would like them to be. The first is journalism, and the second is propaganda. Every story can't have some dubious connection to the White House, some conspiracy theory about the impending takeover of the government, and whatever other machiavellian storyline someone creates in their head. If every story focused on their real and documented criminality then the public would see them for what they are, a RICO organization, rather than what Republicans and conservatives want them to be.
3) Get to know ACORN 8
(for full disclosure, I've had several on and off the record conversations with several members of this group)
ACORN 8 is the biggest threat that ACORN has ever had. ACORN 8 is a group of current and former ACORN board members and employees who discovered the criminality of the organization and demanded real reform. For their efforts, they were often removed from their position and retaliated against. They are almost entirely Democrat, most are African American. As such, they can't easily be marginalized as some rabid conservative looking to create a hatchet job. More than that, they know everything about how ACORN really functions. They can tell the story as it is. They can provide the details necessary to write and produce the sort of story that can make a difference. They're willing to go on the record if necessary.
The folks at ACORN 8 know all the players, Wade Rathke, Dale Rathke, Michael Shea, the Kest Brothers, etc. intimately. They can provide the sort of inside information that only insiders can provide. They are willing to speak to any media that is willing to produce an honest telling of the story. So, why have major portions of the conservative media written and talked about ACORN without contacting them? It's mostly likely because they are too lazy. It's much easier to produce a story that's mostly rank propaganda than to speak to someone for an hour or more and get the real story. That would require real work of journalism. It's certainly not because they aren't available. Members of ACORN 8 have been interviewed by major media figures like Glenn Beck and smaller ones like me. They will speak to anyone that will listen. Of course, it's also important that their agenda is not to bring down the Obama administration. It's not even necessarily to bring down ACORN, but rather to reform it.
4) Get to Know Truth 2 Power
Whereas as ACORN 8 is a collection of former ACORN board members, Truth 2 Power is a collection of current and former ACORN employees. No one has been mistreated worse in the ACORN saga than their own employees. Here are some of the stories that Truth 2 Power can tell: Despite running two union locals in SEU and taking in millions of union members' dollars each year as a contractor, there are no unions for ACORN employees, ACORN pays most of its organizers only about $25,000 a year to start, and requires them to work between 54 and 80 hours a week (the pay and benefits are worse than what organizers organize for in our campaigns), many ACORN organizers have to work alone in dangerous neighborhoods, minority organizers say they were fired for speaking out against racism at the top of the ACORN food chain , ACORN has brutally beaten back previous union drives of their employees by using threats and intimidation and legal maneuvers. Just think about that for a minute. The same group that supposedly fights for a "living wage" doesn't pay its own employees a "living wage". The same group that demands that businesses allow unions comes down hard against any employee that tries to unionize. The same group that fights for worker's right sends its own workers into dangerous neighborhoods alone. These are the stories that current and former ACORN employees are ready to tell.
5)Focus on the criminality
The real story is not that ACORN is some communist organization. First, if you claim that, it's easy for them to spin that characterization and say that and say they're an organization that helps the poor. Second, there's nothing wrong with a communist organization even if it is one. Our country is built on political freedom. Folks have every right to believe what they want. They can form organizations that reflect their beliefes, and those that demonize those beliefs belittle themselves. Folks do NOT have the right not to pay their taxes, embezzle, mismanage pensions, co mingle funds between tax exempt and taxable organizations, commit voter registration fraud, and not account for monies that government gave them in grants. All of those things are illegal. The rotten part of ACORN is NOT its mission and purpose. It's not even it's in your face tactics. The rotten part is that all of it is built on the back of a criminal enterprise.
About a month ago, I found out that ACORN"s current CEO, Bertha Lewis, held a conference call with the Conference of Mayors, including Michael Bloomberg. Then, I found out their political arm in New York, the Worker's Family Party, held a mayoral debate that Bloomberg attended and almost endorsed him. I wondered what the connection between Bloomberg and the WFP. The insider gave several different scenarios, some of them nefarious, some cynical and some perfectly appropriate. So, ultimately, unless I get inside Bloomberg's head, no one will ever know why he got into bed with ACORN. Ultimately, it doesn't matter. ACORN's New York branch is run by the Kest Brothers. John and Steve Kest were two of eight folks that knew about the embezzlement of Dale Rathke and didn't say anything. As such, they covered up an embezzlement. These are the folks that Michael Bloomberg has gotten into bed with. Whether their relationship is above board is beside the point, their,ACORN's, behavior in total is criminal. ACORN has built its strength, scope and power through criminality. So, even if Bloomberg's relationship with ACORN is appropriate, it is inappropriate because that relationship was ultimately built on criminality. It's the criminality that we need to focus on.
6)Follow the money
It's a common cliche, but in the case of ACORN, it's very appropriate. ACORN has created a very complicated and loose network of organizations. Some are non profit, some are for profit, and everything in between. Non profit groups have to disclose their financial statements while for profits do not. So, if and when ACORN moves money between organizations, it's easy to lose track of it. The two biggest allegations against ACORN are misuse of funds and co mingling of funds between profit and non profit organizations. Misuse of funds happens when an organization uses monies in manners they weren't intended. In the case of ACORN, the prior St. Louis story I pointed out is a good example. They were paid $100,000 to modify loans. They only modified $18,000 worth of loan modifications. That means that $82,000 was misused. That's not an opinion but a matter of fact confirmed by the mayor's office to Nancy Armstrong.
The second allegation is that funds are comingled between for profit and non for profit organizations. This is an even more serious allegation. That's when a for profit group gets money and then moves that money into a non profit in order to avoid paying taxes. This is nothing less than a form of money laundering. This is much more difficult to prove because the money gets lost in the maze of for profit and non for profit groups. As such, here is what ACORN 8 spokesperson Michael McCray wants.
Thus, no one really knows how much ACORN is actually worth and how much non-profit –vs– for profit funding has flown through ACORN unless and until there is a forensic examination and independent audit. We know that all funding flowed through Citizen’s Consulting Inc. (CCI). But CCI claims to be a private company – but it is really the financial management division of ACORN.Ultimately, their must be a forensic examination and audit of ACORN. Otherwise know one will ever know for sure how much went into ACORN, how much money was co-mingled at ACORN or how much money was embezzled from ACORN. It’s just that simple.
Everyone that wants to hold ACORN to account for all their crimes, proven and alleged, must demand in unison that they be forced into a forensic audit of their books. This is not some unreasonable request. We know that their leader hid a million dollar plus embezzlement. We know that 8 current leaders knew about the embezzlement and covered it up. We know they continue to get federal, state, and local government money. No one should be comfortable with an organization that's been proven to have engaged in embezzlement to continue to get government funds without ever showing the public their books.
7) Once ACORN is brought down everyone associated with them is brought down with it.
It's absolutely unbelievable just how implanted into the political structure ACORN is. ACORN supports every single Obama initiative. In fact, ACORN Housing is now implementing an Obama housing program. That's the same ACORN Housing that took $100,000 from the city of St. Louis and now can't account for $82,000. Conservatives are putting the proverbial cart before the horse. It's as though they think they can bring down ACORN and Obama by tying each to each other.
That's not how it works. ACORN needs to be brought down because it's a criminal organization. Everyone that is associated with ACORN will be brought down if the public is convinced that ACORN is in fact a criminal organization. How will Michael Bloomberg explain his cozy relationship with ACORN, if the public believes that they are nothing more than a RICO organization? The saem will be true of President Obama. That's when their participation in the Census will be a real story. That's when every alliance, loose and otherwise, between every politician and ACORN will be of importance.
I personally don't understand how it is that we already know so much about their criminality and still they function. What this means is that the public hasn't been presented with enough evidence yet. More criminality needs to be documented. There needs to be enough so that no one has any doubt about the nature of the organization. Then, and only then, should the conservative media pounce on their alliance with Obama on health care, housing, the census and all the other loose connections. First, bring down ACORN, and then Obama, and everyone associated with them, will go down with them.