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Monday, June 22, 2009

What's in a Name (UPDATE)

This morning's Washington Examiner has a story about, among other things, a name change at ACORN.

ACORN executives have also changed their organization’s name, which was tarnished by investigations in at least 14 states of allegations of voter registration fraud during the 2008 presidential campaign, and charges by current and former members of financial mismanagement and misrepresentation.

The new name will let ACORN leaders continue their operations without worrying about prior bad publicity, according to Marcel Reid of ACORN 8, a group of present and former members.

In fact, the process has already begun, she noted. Wade Rathke, who founded the organization, announced on his blog that ACORN International has officially changed its name to “Community Organizations International.”

(I'm being told that Ms. Reid was mischaracterized in her statement about ACORN and has asked the Examiner for a correction)

Now, if you've been following my reporting on ACORN, you know something doesn't make sense. After all, I've reported on numerous occasions that as a result of covering up his brother Dale's embezzlement, Wade Rathke was removed from his position as CEO of ACORN. So, if he isn't the CEO of ACORN, how could he announce a name change of ACORN?

In fact, he hasn't. ACORN's name hasn't changed. (a point MS Placed Democrat points out) In fact, the name change is of the former ACORN International. This is the international affiliate of ACORN that is now run by Wade Rathke.

Here is where the story gets confusing and interesting. Wade Rathke was in fact removed from his position as CEO of ACORN. He was allowed, however, to stay on as Chief Organizer at ACORN International. Some members of the board objected when this occurred, however the powers that be countered that ACORN and ACORN International are two separate entities. As such, they had no power to remove him from that position. To say that ACORN has severed their ties with Rathke is very dubious though, he's still listed as Chief Organizer on their national list.

All of this may seem like technical differences that don't matter, but in fact, they do. First, as the Examiner article pointed out, ACORN is pursuing legal action against ACORN 8 for copyright infringement. Yet, they claimed that ACORN International is its own entity and never went after them for the same misdeed.

More than that, if ACORN International is changing its name, this signals that Rathke believes the name has become toxic and wants to severe his own unit from that toxicity. That would be ironic since it was mostly his own behavior that caused ACORN's name to be toxic. More than that, if media continue to report that ACORN changed their name because it became toxic, you can bet that ACORN itself will soon protest. Soon they'll be screaming bloody murder about how their opponents in the press have been smearing them. They'll technically have a point. After all, ACORN hasn't changed its name. As such, any accusation that they have in order to avoid association with a toxic brand would be wrong. After all, they are still associated with said brand.

Beyond that, the Examiner story said that ACORN's Project VOTE is taking legal action against whistle blower Anita Moncrief. They claim that Moncrief stole proprietary information from their email and used a company credit card in an unauthorized manner. That Project Vote takes the misuse of company credit cards so seriously is also rather ironic. That's because that was one of several things that Dale Rathke did was charge up personal dinners and other personal expenses and then write them off as business expenses. ACORN 8 has put out this statement regarding the legal action taken by Project VOTE.

On behalf of the National Board of the ACORN 8, we are all saddened by and express great concern due to the ACORN’s court action filed against whistleblower Anita Moncrief. While we do not express an opinion on the merits of ACORN’s complaint; we as reform advocates decry the tactic of suing whistleblowers – especially, low to moderate income people who do not have the financial means to effectively fight back in courts of law. Moreover, this is yet another example of why congress must enact strong corporate, government and tax-payer funded whistleblower protection laws.

Federal whistleblowers are our nation’s first line of defense against waste, fraud and abuse. Yet, they remain the only group within the labor force that has second class due process rights to protect them from retaliation when they make the difficult decision to blow the whistle. HR. 1507, the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2009, would offer full access to court, enforced by access to jury trials, for all employees paid by the taxpayers, just as President Obama promised in his campaign. We support H.R. 1507 for these reasons, and expect the President to deliver on his commitment to whistleblowers and the public by making this reform a cornerstone of any transparency measure until it is passed.

Additionally, the Government Accountability Project (GAP) released a new report that both advocates for greater whistleblower protections and acts as a guidebook for corporate whistleblowers to best protect themselves from retaliation. Running the Gauntlet: The Campaign for Credible Corporate Whistleblower Rights surveys the dangerous landscape of corporate whistleblower laws, and recommends strategies for those in need of help. Likewise Representative Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) has pledged comprehensive corporate whistleblower legislation to institutionalize six new piecemeal laws passed since the 2006 elections for workers ranging from defense contractors to truck drivers to retail commerce employees regulated by the Consumers Products Safety Commission.

As ACORN reform advocates – we also fear legal retaliation from ACORN due to the reform campaign we are currently engaged in against ACORN. While we anticipate that any such legal action if brought would be baseless and vexatious; it would nevertheless be distracting and expensive. We are already being intimidated through character assignation, cease and desist letters, harassing emails and blogs, and death threats. We need the public’s help to ensure that these bullying tactics won’t work. Please support the ACORN 8, pleased donate to the A8 Legal Defense Fund at

National Spokesperson
Michael McCray

I have asked ACORN for comment but so far no one has responded to my email.


Here is the statement from ACORN.

Here are the facts: ACORN is not changing its name.

"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."


Finian said...

We keep going after acorn like we keep going after obama and his eligibility, but whose listening? I'm not saying that either one is not important, they are. However, I think we should spend most of our time going after the states. If we get control of the majority of the states...obama the con man can't do anything.

mike volpe said...

I don't who we are. I am going after ACORN because insiders have told me about a lot of criminality.

You seem to see ACORN in some sort of larger context. I believe the group is run in a crooked manner. That's not acceptable.

Anonymous said...

Mike Volpe- I think you took the article out of context. Read the part in parenthesis again. THEN it will make more sense.

mike volpe said...

The part in parenthesis was written by my. That which is indented is quoted. That which is not is written by me.

I didn't take anything out of context. The article made it seem as though ACORN is changing its name. The blogs ran with this. Of course, that's not accurate.

Before publishing the story, I contacted folks with knowledge of the situation. The article made no sense. On the one hand, ACORN was changing its name. On the other hand, it was being done by Wade Rathke, no longer, supposedly, in ACORN.