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Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Issa ACORN/SEIU Report

I finally had a chance to read the most recent Issa Report in it's entirety. While this report claims to focus on the connection between ACORN and the SEIU, it was mostly a rehash of the previous Issa report last July. It again went over the myriad of inter connections between ACORN and it's hundreds of affiliates. It even claimed that many of the current investigations like this Louisiana and Indiana have been helped along by the information revealed in the previous report.

As for this report, one significant revelation are the schemes known as Muscle for Money. In such schemes, corporation like the Carlyle group and H&R Block were strong armed into giving concessions to ACORN. I described one such scheme like this in February of 2009.

One such campaign involved H&R Block. ACORN showed up at the home of then CEO, Mark Ernst. The relentlessly harrassed him all over his neighborhood. They showed up everywhere he frequented until he became a pariah in his own neighborhood. They finally got concessions. They teamed up to provide free tax service in low income areas. ACORN got a piece of H&R Block's Emerald Cards. Of course, that's what the media knows about. What's almost certain is that ACORN also received, and likely continues to receive, cash payments directly from H&R Block. Of course, we'll never know how much, if any, cash payments were transferred. That's because all cash that ACORN receives starts in their so called accounting firm, Citizen's Consulting Inc. Because both H&R Block and CCI are both private companies, seeing their books is next to impossible. As such any payments are hidden in the books of two companies that aren't sharing them.

Often, these sort of strong armed tactics were then by ACORN members at the behest of the SEIU. It's also been widely reported that the local New Orleans SEIU 100 is run by Wade Rathke, the founder and former long time chief organizer at ACORN. Rathke recently confirmed this as well to me. Though, it's now being called the United Labor Union 100 as the name has been changed since last fall. His brother Dale was also a long time higher up at the local SEIU 100.

The report also showed that union dues were often a significant source of money into ACORN.

The most starting revelation is about the Americians Social Institute for Justice. ASIJ, according to the report, is nothing more than a shell organization used to launder money, government and otherwise. Often, according to the report, government funds would transfer seemlessly from the government to ASIJ and into the political arm of ACORN and then be used for political purposes, a major federal violation.

Issa's report also spends a great deal of time trying to tie ACORN to the Community Reinvestment Act and all of it to the current mortgage crisis. Last July, the same Darrell Issa completed a report detailing how the Community Reinvestment Act played a major role in creating the crisis. The CRA has become a Republican boogeyman in the crisis because it's a great way to blame liberal policies on our current situation. In Issa's own report, however, he states that at it's height the CRA only accounted for 3% of all mortgages. It only applied to banks and not brokers. It didn't apply to sub prime itself. I refuted it then, and I won't go over the same arguments again.

Issa's report spends more than twenty of the sixty eight pages on this topic. There's no doubt that ACORN used the CRA for serious campaigns against banks like Wells Fargo however then the report tries to claim that these campaigns had a substantial effect on the crisis. The first is accurate and the second is absurd. The full report is here.

Here is analysis of the first and third ACORN/Issa report.

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