What ACORN's sob-story tellers leave out is the inconvenient fact that nonprofits were bailing on ACORN long before undercover journalists Hannah Giles and James O'Keefe and BigGovernment.com publisher Andrew Breitbart entered the scene. Internal ACORN records from a Washington, D.C., meeting held last August noted that more than $2 million in foundation money was being withheld as a result of the group's embezzlement scandal involving founder Wade Rathke's brother, Dale -- reportedly involving upward of $5 million.
Rathke admitted he suppressed disclosure of his brother's massive theft -- first discovered in 2000 -- because "word of the embezzlement would have put a 'weapon' into the hands of enemies of ACORN." In other words: The protection of ACORN's political viability came before the protection of members' dues (and taxpayers' funds).
A small group of ACORN executives helped cover up Dale Rathke's crime by carrying the amount he embezzled as a "loan" on the books of Citizens Consulting Inc. CCI, the accounting and financial management arm of ACORN and its affiliates, is housed in the same building as the national ACORN headquarters in New Orleans. It's also home to ACORN International, now operating under a different name, which Wade Rathke continues to head.
ACORN brass cooked up a "restitution" plan to allow the Rathkes to pay back a measly $30,000 a year in exchange for secrecy about the deal. ACORN's lawyers issued a decree to its employees to keep their "yaps" shut. Dale Rathke kept his job and his $38,000 annual salary until the story leaked to donors and board members outside the Rathke circle.
In June 2008, the left-wing Catholic Campaign for Human Development cut off grant money to ACORN "because of questions that arose about financial management, fiscal transparency and organizational accountability of the national ACORN structures." In November 2008 -- ahem, more than a year before the congressional ACORN funding ban was passed -- CCHD voted unanimously to extend and make permanent its ban on funding of ACORN organizations. "This decision was made because of serious concerns regarding ACORN's lack of financial transparency, organizational performance and questions surrounding political partisanship," according to Bishop Roger Morin.
Did ACORN's lawyers call that withdrawal of funding "political grandstanding" and "scapegoating," too?
The lawsuit over the congressional funding ban is just the latest desperate legal measure to distract from ACORN's long-festering ethics and financial scandals. ACORN's attorneys have sued Giles, O'Keefe, Breitbart and former ACORN/Project Vote whistleblower Anita MonCrief. And they'll sue anyone else who gets in the way of rehabilitating the scandal-plagued enterprise's image.
It took decades to build up its massive coffers and intricate web of affiliates across the country. It will take months and years to untangle the entire operation. And it will take time, money and relentless sunshine to dismantle the government-subsidized partisan racket.
ACORN can never be "reformed." It is constitutionally corrupt. Sue me.
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