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Monday, November 30, 2009

The ACORN "Name Change"

There's an old story that's been given new life with the discovery, recently, of new documents.

ACORN, the troubled community service organization, recently considered changing its name in a bid to rehabilitate its image, according to an internal memo obtained by POLITICO.

The document, which will be released Tuesday as part of a Republican congressional forum on ACORN, illustrates the internal deliberation the group has undergone after a year of embarrassing scandals.

The document was found in Dumpster outside of an ACORN office in San Diego, a House Republican aide said. Derrick Roach, an unsuccessful Republican candidate for statehouse in California, took thousands of documents last week from the trash outside the office. An ACORN spokesman confirmed the veracity of the document.

In fact, more than one person with "insider" connections told me this. They were told by their own contacts within ACORN that management was considering a name change. This all was happening in the summer time and I would bet anything that these documents are from that time.

This should surprise no one. Even in the summer time, the name was becoming toxic. Of course, this was an option as part of a rebranding. This document only confirms months of speculation from insiders.

What is important is this. In July, ACORN International changed its name internally here in America to Community Organizations International. According to Wade Rathke, its head and former head of ACORN itself, he didn't want confusion between the two groups here in the States. Internationally, COI is still called ACORN International. That story broke at about the time that insiders were telling a lot of media that they were hearing that ACORN was about to change its name. As such, Kevin Mooney of the Washington Examiner first reported it wrong. He wrote a story that suggested that ACORN wasn't changing its name. The rest of the conservative media picked up on the story and spent the next couple days bashing ACORN for changing its name. Then, with egg on its face much of the conservative media began to back track.

Meanwhile, ACORN played coy and released this press release at the time.

Here are the facts: ACORN is not changing its name. ACORN International, a five-year old organization of overseas former ACORN affiliates, did. ACORN withdrew from ACORN International a year ago as part of an overall restructuring process and requested that they stop using the ACORN name, which they have now done. Wade Rathke was fired as Chief Organizer in June 2008 and has had no further involvement with ACORN since then. He will not be taking on any responsibilities with ACORN.

This press release was technically accurate though it never did mention the internal debates now revealed in the current memos. (though I suppose there wouldn't be a reason to do so either) These documents are in fact the documented evidence of the rumors that insiders were hearing. Now, we know that the internal debate was occurring at the same time that ACORN Intl. changed its own name here in the states.

Meanwhile, these documents are part of a plethora of documents discovered in a dumpster in San Diego. I would hope the rest are more interesting than these. If all there is are some memos about the discussion of a name change, there isn't much there.

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