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Saturday, May 30, 2009

O''Reilly Vs. Bertha Lewis CEO of ACORN

There are several things that can be interpreted from this interview. First, there's no way that Bertha Lewis is calling the shots for this organization. She may have the title of CEO, but Lewis isn't nearly sophisticated enough to call the shots. ACORN is a sophisticated network of loosely knit organizations that number in the hundreds. Lewis is a true believer in the cause and she's been with ACORN for a while, but there's no way she runs the show.

Two insiders tell me that shots are being called by John and Steve Kest, who both run the New York branch of ACORN. (where Lewis worked until she became CEO) In fact, ACORN has been characterized as a plantation mentality. The group targets the poor and the working class mostly in African American areas. Most of the so called "foot soldiers" fit that demographic profile. The folks that go door to door registering voters, stopping foreclosures, and helping with health care fit this profile. Yet, most of the folks calling the shots are white and often from wealth.

Wade Rathke, who was the CEO until his brother's embezzlement was discovered, came from money. His wife, Beth Butler, still runs the Southern region of ACORN. Both the Kest brothers are white from fairly affluent backgrounds. Michael Shea, who runs the powerful ACORN Housing Inc., is yet another example of this phenomenon. Now, as I say this, make no mistake that everyone with ACORN is a true believer, no matter their background. That said, Bertha Lewis is presented as the face of the group because Lewis presents the image of the type of folks that ACORN works for, but ultimately two white guys from New York are pulling her strings.

On the specifics of the interview, most lies are 80% truth. For instance, Lewis claims that our tax money goes to feed the hungry, stop foreclosures, help with health care, and other good works in the community. That's true in a sense. In fact, ACORN is among the most effective grass roots organizations in history. What she doesn't say is that often ACORN funds are used for purposes that they aren't earmarked for. That's in fact what the house on Elysian Field is for. The house that O'Reilly was talking about is the headquarters of Citizens Consulting Incorporated. Any money that ACORN, or any of its hundreds of affiliates (like ACORN Housing) receives, be it from the government or a philanthropist, first goes to CCI. If everything were on the level, the very existence of CCI wouldn't be necessary. If HHS earmarked some millions of dollars to Health Care for America Now (another affiliate), then it would go there directly. Instead, it starts at CCI. That's because it often winds up for uses that it was never intended for. Furthermore, CCI is a private company

So, is the goal of ACORN to make the U.S. a more socialist country? Of course, it is. The two ladies can use all the dressed up language they want but their activities include things like a living wage, foreclosure prevention, universal health care. They were major players in enforcing the Community Reinvestment Act and work to raise minimum wage in localities and states on a regular basis. All of their causes just happen to be quasi socialist causes. My favorite Latin phrase is res ipsa loquitor. The facts speak for themselves.

Finally, Ms. Lewis, in denying O'Reilly request to see their books, mentioned that they are already audited. Here's what she didn't say. The firm that audits CCI is Duplainer, Hrapmann, Hogan and Maher, L.L.P, and they were the firm that were auditing CCI when Dale Rathke was embezzling about a million dollars from CCI. So, her assertion that this firm is to be trusted simply doesn't square with their history.

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