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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Note to the Conservative Media...Here's How You Bring Down ACORN (and the Obama Administration With Them)

What if I told you that there was an organization who's long time leader hid a million dollar embezzlement perpetrated by his brother? What if I told you that this leader told eight of his deputies and each of them made a commitment to keep the embezzlement hidden from the rest of the organization? What if I told you further that this organization is really a collection of two hundred plus loose affiliates most of which just happen make their home office the EXACT SAME ADDRESS? What if I told you that this organization uses the tax laws to created a maze of money that makes it nearly impossible for any watch dog to track it? What if I told you that current and former insiders accuse this group of misusing funds, voter registration fraud, embezzlement, mismanaging pensions, and co mingling government grants so that they aren't used for their intended purpose? What if further I told you that these very insiders were removed from the organization and even retaliated against for making these charges? You'd probably say that this organization is rotten to the core but also that the revelation of all of this has likely made them so toxic they couldn't function. If that organization is ACORN, you'd be right on the first, and wrong on the second.

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.

2) Propaganda

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.


Anonymous said...

I enjoy your blog a great deal, so I urge you to be very careful of the way you word things when making accusations of criminality against an organization, especially one as politically connected (and potentially litigious) as ACORN.

The message you are giving here is a good one, and I hope someone in the (conservative) media picks up on your suggestions. Maybe Mark Levin? He's a lawyet, after all, and might be able to commit some resources to, at the least, civil suits against ACORN.

Just a thought, and good luck.

mike volpe said...

I hear ya. I've have been investigated to the tune of six figures by another powerful organization. If ACORN finds something I said as inaccurate, they can feel free to try and stop me. I choose my words very carefully and nothing I said can't be backed up.

Anonymous said...

Mike, this is politics. The truth doesn't stop ANYONE.

I think the real issue is that most of the people you talk about doing a mediocre job of going after ACORN don't really care about ACORN at all, they just want Obama, plain and simple.

Heck, why do you think ppl like WorldNetDaily are still propagating the idea that Obama isn't an American citizen?

mike volpe said...

I agree with the last comment. I guess what we need is more real journalist and less propagandists and lazy folks.

Brian H said...

Good summary and approach, but a few absolute statements that are strictly speaking inaccurate. The one that jumps out is that it is false that ACORN commits voter fraud. It is an unproven allegation, albeit strongly suggested by accounts by some voters that they voted multiple times with ACORN's assistance. That's different from being "false".

And your agreement that WND is propagating the idea that Obama isn't an American citizen is just carelessness; the allegation is that he is not a NATURAL BORN CITIZEN, which is a standard that ONLY the POTUS is Constitutionally required to meet.

mike volpe said...

first, the only allusion to the birth certificate was made by a commenter. I don't deal in conspiracy theories and so I don't deal with the birth certificate. I understand the consequences of a non natural born citizen being president however it's absurd to suggest that Obama wasn't born here. Such a falsehood would never have been kept under wraps for his entire life. He didn't always want to run for president and so the suggestion would be that he began lying about it as a kid long before he ever wanted to do anything like run for president.

I have spoken to many insiders and none know of any cases of voter fraud. If you know something they don't, that is fine, but it's likely you got your information off the internet. My information is more accurate than that.

navyvet48 said...


Thank you for the credit you gave me in this article. Interestingly enough there are chapters of ACORN that do good things...ACORN protested in the City of Philadelphia to get vacant and abandoned homes taken down. Two things happen by removing those homes....neighbors are safer, property values improve and it beautifies the city overall. In my opinion the ACORN chapter did a direct action that would benefit not just them but all of Philadelphia. Here is the link to the article:

Glenn Beck's assistant producer told me that Beck didn't want to connect ACORN to Obama but somewhere along the way he has changed his MO.

As for ACORN, the ACORN-8 wants to remove the corrupt leadership and take the control of ACORN away from Wade Rathke for good. He may have been dismissed from ACORN but he still has his fingers in the pie.

The truth is ACORN-8 wants to keep the membership alive once the criminal element is gone, drop the name (rename it) and go back to direct actions that actually help the members of the organization.

I don't know about you Michael but I have always helped people. When I was in the USN I made sure families that were having a tough time got holiday meals and gifts through the Navy Relief.

At one point in my life I taught a class to assist women re-entering the workforce who were on Welfare. I was 99% successful....I had one holdout who learned to game the system. (It was a shame because her brother was quite successful....he was Senior Chief in the USN.)

It is the allure of the money and the greed that seems to be inherent in some people that made ACORN go off course. They lost sight of their original goal....that was to give people a leg up.

As for their (ACORN) part in the housing crisis....they aren't totally to blame....banks got greedy too even if that meant making money off people who could not afford the homes they bought through those NINJA loans and food stamp loans. (And of course Congress who changed mortgage regulations on a whim as they have with the FHA.)

You might think I am nuts but if ACORN cleaned house changed their name and really helped folks....I would stand with them.

Why? Because when I am not writing my blog I am a veterans advocate as well. Helping folks who need a leg up is just ingrained in me.

I am still that strange young person on the inside that visited old folks in the nursing homes who didn't have visitors.

Brian H said...


I didn't intend to get dragged into disputing specifics, but e.g., a Mr. Gilbert in Ohio was apparently indicted in 2007 for voting twice after being registered twice by ACORN. Who is at legal fault when someone takes advantage of multiple registrations?

And whether you find it implausible that Obama's birth was not in Hawaii is not germane; his determined and expensive effort to block access to every document everywhere that would settle the issue is. As for the web COLB, Hawaii has denied issuing that or any such document for him. Aside from which, his own claim/admission that he was born under the jurisdiction of Great Britain, as his father was a Kenyan national, violates the other leg of the Natural Born Citizenship requirement.

As for the "conspiracy theories" smear, zero disclosure, unique in American presidential history, will tend to stimulate those. If the MSM had made even a cursory pass at vetting this man, the issue would be moot, as he would have been stopped at the gate.

mike volpe said...

I should have mentioned that case in Ohio however that's the only documented case of alleged voter fraud. I live in Chicago where voter fraud changes election results on a regular basis and that's not what ACORN has done, or at least, there's no evidence of that.

As for the birth certificat, I don't care. I don't know the specifics because I have no interest if you want to believe there is something there, it's your time to waste.

Jack said...

Let’s just say I work in the judicial industry and this is OUTSTANDING! In a court of law ACORN would have to bear the proof of innocence and looks to me they would not be able to rise to that occasion. I say civil litigation but it must be brought from a party with standing. Like these ex workers from ACORN if they would be open for deposition and testimony. IMO

Ymarsakar said...

the rest of the public doesn't care because most people don't respond to propaganda.

Actually, a lot of people respond to propaganda.

They just think it is the truth. Authoritative truth. Revealed truth, even.

If this wasn't the case, Obama's slogan wouldn't have worked so well. Of course most people respond to propaganda.

United Citizens Council said...

Anonymous- I do not know anyone who says Obama is not an American citizen. I hear some say he MIGHT not be a NATURAL BORN citizen and they think a person should show proof of their elgibility before running for office.

Thats what I hear.

Anonymous said...

United Citizens have to be BORN in America. THAT is why he won't show his birth certificate.
God bless you Mike for standing watch. I wish you well.

tanarg said...

- John Stossel and Jake Tappert at ABC?
- Politico?
- American Thinker?
- Pajamas Media?