If you don't know what ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) is all about, you better bone up. This left-wing group takes in 40 percent of its revenues from American taxpayers -- you and me -- and has leveraged nearly four decades of government subsidies to fund affiliates that promote the welfare state and undermine capitalism and self-reliance, some of which have been implicated in perpetuating illegal immigration and encouraging voter fraud. A new whistleblower report from the Consumer Rights League claims that Chicago-based ACORN has commingled public tax dollars with political projects.
Who in Washington will fight to ensure that your money isn't being spent on these radical activities?
Don't bother asking Barack Obama. He cut his ideological teeth working with ACORN as a "community organizer" and legal representative. Naturally, ACORN's political action committee has warmly endorsed his presidential candidacy. ACORN head Maude Hurd gushes that Obama is the candidate who "best understands and can affect change on the issues ACORN cares about" -- like ensuring their massive pipeline to your hard-earned money. Let's take a closer look at the ACORN Obama knows.
Last July, ACORN settled the largest case of voter fraud in the history of Washington State. Seven ACORN workers had submitted nearly 2,000 bogus voter registration forms. According to case records, they flipped through phone books for names to use on the forms, including "Leon Spinks," "Frekkie Magoal" and "Fruto Boy Crispila." Three ACORN election hoaxers pleaded guilty in October. A King County prosecutor called ACORN's criminal sabotage "an act of vandalism upon the voter rolls."
The group's vandalism on electoral integrity is systemic. ACORN has been implicated in similar voter fraud schemes in Missouri, Ohio and at least 12 other states. The Wall Street Journal noted: "In Ohio in 2004, a worker for one affiliate was given crack cocaine in exchange for fraudulent registrations that included underage voters, dead voters and pillars of the community named Mary Poppins, Dick Tracy and Jive Turkey. During a congressional hearing in Ohio in the aftermath of the 2004 election, officials from several counties in the state explained ACORN's practice of dumping thousands of registration forms in their lap on the submission deadline, even though the forms had been collected months earlier."
In March, Philadelphia elections officials accused the nonprofit advocacy group of filing fraudulent voter registrations in advance of the April 22nd Pennsylvania primary. The charges have been forwarded to the city district attorney's office.
Under the guise of "consumer advocacy," ACORN has received money from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD funds hundreds, if not thousands, of left-wing "anti-poverty" groups across the country led by ACORN. Last October, HUD announced more than $44 million in new housing counseling grants to over 400 state and local efforts. The White House has increased funding for housing counseling by 150 percent since taking office in 2001, despite the role most of these recipients play as activist satellites of the Democratic Party. The AARP scored nearly $400,000 for training; the National Council of La Raza ("The Race") scooped up more than $1.3 million; the National Urban League raked in nearly $1 million; and the ACORN Housing Corporation received more than $1.6 million.
As the Consumer Rights League points out in its new expose, the ACORN Housing Corporation has worked to obtain mortgages for illegal aliens in partnership with Citibank. It relies on undocumented income, "under the table" money, which may not be reported to the Internal Revenue Service. Moreover, the group's "financial justice" operations attack lenders for "exotic" loans, while recommending 10-year interest-only loans (which deny equity to the buyer) and risky reverse mortgages. Whistleblower documents reveal internal discussions among the group that blur the lines between its tax-exempt housing work and its aggressive electioneering activities. The group appears to shake down corporate interests with relentless PR attacks, and then enters "no lobby" agreements with targeted corporations after receiving payment.
Republicans have largely looked the other way as ACORN has expanded its government-funded empire. But finally, a few conservative voices in Congress have called for investigation of the group's apparent extortion schemes. This week, GOP Reps. Tom Feeney, Jeb Hensarling and Ed Royce called on Democrat Barney Frank, chair of the House Financial Services Committee, to convene a hearing to probe potential illegalities and abuse of taxpayer funds by ACORN's management and minions alike.
Where does the candidate of Hope and Change -- the candidate of Reform and New Politics -- stand on the issue? Barack Obama, ACORN's senator, is for more of the same old, same old subsidizing of far-left politics in the name of fighting for the poor while enriching ideological cronies. It's the Chicago way.