Buy My Book Here

Fox News Ticker

Please check out my new books, "Prosecutors Gone Wild: The Inside Story of the Trial of Chuck Panici, John Gliottoni, and Louise Marshall" and also, "The Definitive Dossier of PTSD in Whistleblowers"

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Why Everyone Should Care About ACORN

There is some poetic irony in the fact that I am tracking the case of Dr. Anna Chacko at the same time I am tracking the events surrounding ACORN. That's because both have similarities. Both Chacko and ACORN used weaknesses in the American system to exploit, and both exploited those weaknesses for evil deeds. It's really that simple. As such, much like the case of Dr. Anna Chacko, everyone should care about unraveling exactly what ACORN has done and how they did it. Because if it's truly unraveled, then we can identify the weaknesses they exploited and fix them.

A lot of people have mistakenly identified what is at the heart of the scandal surrounding ACORN. Many have turned ACORN into an ideological battlefield. It isn't. I don't care if ACORN is Communist, Socialist, Marxist, or Anarchist. They are Americans and they have every right to push whatever ideology they choose. Anyone that sees ACORN through an ideological prism is missing what's at the heart of this scandal. What's at the heart of this scandal is corruption. It's not merely a little corruption here and there, but in fact, it's so much corruption that ACORN has become a criminal enterprise.

The folks at ACORN didn't wake up one day and suddenly become criminals. In fact, this is a process that took years and decades. Furthermore, their criminality expanded and it expanded because the system broke down. Just take the most recent news as an example. Today, we learned that ACORN recently received a grant in Louisiana for about a million dollars for fire prevention. Well, first, ACORN doesn't do fire prevention. Second, and much more worrisome, even after everything that has been revealed, ACORN is still managing to receive government money. That is yet more evidence of how our system broke down.

The first way in which ACORN exploited our system is through our tax code. Often folks on both sides of the aisle bemoan the complicated nature of our tax code. In fact, our very complicated tax code helped ACORN get away with serious malfeasance for years. I spoke a few months back with Mathew Vadum. He has been following ACORN for nearly a year. He told me that he tried to track ACORN's money among their multi hundred affiliates. The problem he had was that the affiliates were all of different tax structures with different rules of reporting. So, he would track money to an affiliate that wasn't required to disclose their books and lose the money. ACORN has several hundred affiliates and each has their own tax structure. Each is also required to report different things to the IRS. Some aren't required to report anything. In such an environment, it's easy for anyone to lose track of money. That's because it eventually winds up in a place that doesn't have to disclose anything.

All of this was done by design. ACORN was created into a complicated maze of affiliates with their ABC of tax codes so that tracking what happened to any of the money would be near impossible. ACORN did all of this using our very complicated tax code. ACORN used our tax code's complications to hide illegality. They exploited the weaknesses caused by those complexities to hide this illegality. We're only going to know exactly what those weaknesses are with a full and open investigation.

Beyond this, ACORN has always used their ideology, their mission to help the poor, and the fact that most of their members and the people they serve are black to their advantage. The last part is ironic since most of the power is held by whites. Even now, Bertha Lewis constantly goes back to the idea that "ACORN is focused on helping low income folks stay in their homes". She's called the recent charges "right wing attacks". ACORN has always attempted to turn any accusation of criminality against it as a right wing attack. For a long time, it worked. The Issa Report was scathing. Yet, most people dismissed it as a partisan attack. In other words, most people dismissed the criminality uncovered in the report simply because Republicans took the lead in investigating it. That's been the game that ACORN has been playing for a very long time. Our society has become so polarized on ideological lines that we fail to see obvious corruption just because the corruption comes from a group or person we happen to agree with philosophically.

We live in a society where a politician like Sarah Palin can be crucified by media all over the world while any criticism of Barack Obama is immediately viewed skeptically and a charge of racism is applied. ACORN exploited the politically correct nature of our society to marginalize any and every critic so that eventually, they convinced enough people that any and all criticism was either politically, racially, or culturally motivated. Frankly, enough people bought it so that despite mounting evidence of systemic criminality, ACORN continued to operate relatively freely until just the last two months. ACORN exploited the weaknesses caused by our political correctness and that can never happen again. That problem can't be solved until it's recognized.

What's most scary about ACORN is the political power they hold that most people don't know about. Before Republicans get excited, make no mistake that when it comes to power, ACORN knows no ideology. While ACORN certainly more often than not allied itself with Democrats, they certainly didn't miss an opportunity to ally themselves with any politician. I was amazed to be on a call with the Conference of Mayors and Bertha Lewis, ACORN's CEO, in May. This call occurred two weeks after Lewis' interview with Bill O'Reilly. It came only weeks after Glenn Beck first revealed information about CCI and began unraveling their criminality. So, while Beck was exposing their criminality, ACORN was working with the nation's most powerful mayors on foreclosure relief. One of the leading mayors on that call was Mayor Bloomberg of New York City. A few years back, ACORN engineered a total restructure in the Baltimore city council.

I always remember the most remarkable thing that an insider once told me. The folks at ACORN often marveled at how a politician would get on the floor in Congress and go into a long anti ACORN diatrobe, then an ACORN affiliate would meet with the same politician and they would approve funding. That's how tied into the political system that group is. The only way to know just how tied into the system they are is with a full investigation. The only way to do that is to have a public engaged. If politicians are getting in bed with criminal enterprises, that's something everyone must know.

The most important reason that everyone must care about ACORN is because for far too long our society has treated corruption far too lightly. The mayor of Chicago is notorious for his corruption and still everyone in our city expects him to get re elected. Furthermore, when stories of corruption break, they are rarely full flushed out so that all responsible are held responsible. In the Hired Truck Scandal here in Illinois, Donald Tomczak is currently in jail for receiving bags of money, but the media didn't dig far enough to figure out who sent him the bags of money. That scandal brought down dozens but left hundreds of others also involved unscathed. Because our society takes such a lax attitude to corruption, that encourages more of it. If someone or something is corrupt, nothing else should matter. That's unacceptable because corruption costs everyone but those that are corrupt. It's the antithesis of everything this country stands for.

It's gone on far too long because stories of corruption are treated with a relative yawn. People are simply not nearly outraged enough when someone in a position of trust abuses that trust. If all of ACORN's corruption isn't fleshed out, our society misses yet another opportunity to treat corruption the way it should be treated. The way it should be treated is with righteous contempt and the full force of the law. That rarely happens. More often, a few heads roll and the public loses interest. As a result, most of those involved in said corruption get away with it and continue on. That sort of an attitude only encourages even more corruption.

It matters not what side of the politically philosophical aisle you are on. ACORN covered up embezzlement. They failed to pay their taxes. They engaged in systemic voter registration fraud. They systemically comingled funds so that funds often went for purposes they weren't intended to go for. They committed ERISA violations, abused their employees, and that's only what we know. They are a criminal enterprise that has been allowed to operate, mostly freely, by a system that was supposed to stop it. Instead, the system often helped ACORN in their criminality. This can no longer go on. The only way to know how to fix all the flaws: legal, tax, and societal, is with a full investigation. A full investigation will expose exactly how ACORN did what they did so that everyone can see. Then, we can fix all the weaknesses that ACORN exploited. That's why everyone should care about ACORN.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

although acorn shares office space with and is joined at the hip with seiu (a union) the underprivledged who work for them are denied the chance to unionize. lets see how that card check (no secret ballot) works out for them. give it try if it works for you it would make it less offensive to all of us who oppose it