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Thursday, June 25, 2009

What's in a Name II

(H/T to good reporting by Nancy Armstrong of MS Placed Democrat) Earlier in the week there was a big brouhaha over the supposed name change of ACORN. As I reported, a somewhat sloppy story lead many in the conservative media to mistakenly report that ACORN (the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now) had changed its name. That wasn't accurate. It was in fact ACORN Intl. that changed its name. ACORN Intl. is the organization now run by former ACORN CEO, Wade Rathke. Wade Rathke was removed from that position last year when it was revealed that he had covered up about a million dollars worth of embezzlement by his brother Dale Rathke. Now, while the conservative media was breathlessly speculating about what all of this means, ACORN put out this statement.

ACORN International, a five-year old organization of overseas former ACORN affiliates, did.

ACORNwithdrew 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."

Now, interestingly enough, Wade Rathke has a slightly different explanation for the name change.

Here are the brass tacks. Acorn International is a federation organized with a board from each of its member countries. ACORN is one non-profit corporation in the USA. In the USA we are going to do business as Community Organizations International. Why? Because it reduces confusion on one hand – why should we want to deal with these whacks and weirdo’s out there, I wonder? And, on the other hand it allows us to more easily amalgamate other organizations that are already established and have different names. So in the existing seven countries where we have members and are already chartered, they will clearly keep on keeping on with their name. In some countries (Sicily for example) where existing organizations have begun talking about affiliating to Acorn International, it is even easier to do so with the name of Community Organizations International, because then no one has to argue about autonomy. At the point we expand to new areas we will make the decision with local people from place to place.

So, if ACORN and ACORN Intl. are severed organizations, then it's news to Wade. According to Rathke himself, ACORN Intl. is a federation of organizations from all around the world INCLUDING ACORN IN THE USA. The name change is occurring simply so that here in the states there is no confusion between the two groups. In fact, officially, ACORN Intl. is still the name of his organization according to Rathke himself. Furthermore, the name of the organization continues to be ACORN Intl., according to the Secretary of State's office in Louisiana. The address of the organization is 1024 ELYSIAN FIELDS, NEW ORLEANS, LA 70117, which is the now infamous address that houses Citizen's Consulting Inc. ACORN itself, along with many other ACORN affiliates. Finally, listed as Treasurer and Secretary of ACORN Intl. is Mande Hurde. Now, there's no other listing of a Mandy Hurde anywhere else. There is, however, a listing for a Maude Hurd. She is currently the President of ACORN. (the address listed is the same in both cases) So, either two people with very similar names live at the exact same address or the same Maude Hurd who is President of ACORN is also Secretary and Treasurer of ACORN Intl.

As such, if ACORN is insisting on making sure that they have severed all ties between themselves and Wade Rathke, as their press release insists, they are doing rather terrible job of it.

There's more. Here is the Secretary of State of Louisiana's record of ACORN Funds Inc. They also just happen to list their main office at the exact same address on Elysian Fields. Who's the President of ACORN Funds Inc.? You guessed it, Wade Rathke. Now, either the folks at the Secretary of State's office in Louisiana are awfully slow in updating these records, or ACORN isn't being totally forthright in their assertion that all ties between themselves and Wade Rathke have actually been severed.

This is no small point. Wade Rathke covered up a million dollar embezzlement. The organization removed him for obvious reasons. Bertha Lewis told Bill O'Reilly emphatically that there was no more criminality on her watch. ACORN itself has stated unequivocally that they have no more ties to Rathke. Clearly, they do. This not only raises issues of honesty. More importantly, how much influence does Wade Rathke, an admitted party to a million dollar embezzlement, still have at ACORN?

1 comment:

Mark said...

Great post - thanks for your work.
mc hallenerg