The radical nationwide nonprofit network, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now - better known as ACORN - has wound down operations in an effort at damage control. A new government report suggests more spin will be needed. On September 21 the Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), released an evaluation (see pdf) of certain expenditures of ACORN Housing Corporation (AHC), one of the largest affiliates under the ACORN umbrella. The review concluded that the Chicago-based nonprofit had misspent a sizable portion of the roughly $3.25 million it received from HUD during fiscal years 2008-09. While that $3.25 million figure in turn was only a little over a tenth of the more than $30 million in grants to AHC during that two-year period, the audit suggests that the entity, like its parent organization, has had a serious ethical blind spot. And HUD wants some of the money back.
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, better known by the acronym ACORN, exists only in shell form, having formally disbanded on April 1. Yet whatever name(s) the radical nonprofit organizing network and its countless affiliates currently go under, the issue of its right to receive federal funds is anything but a dead letter. A court ruling several days ago ensures as much. On Wednesday, April 21, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit temporarily reinstated a congressional ban on further public funding of the scandal-ridden group. The three-judge panel in Manhattan effectively overturned a lower court order barring enforcement of the cutoff, concluding that full arguments must be heard first. And they will be this summer.
As far as operations in Maryland go, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, is no more. On Monday the group's former state co-chairwoman, Sonja Merchant-Jones, announced that the group has shut down all of its offices and in the foreseeable future would not operate under a new name. The announcement is a coda to the wave of bad publicity befalling the parent organization since last September following the airing of videos filmed by a young conservative activist couple, James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles, pretending to be a pimp and a prostitute. The hidden camera sting, posted on the Web and Fox News Channel, caught ACORN office employees in Baltimore and other U.S. cities giving advice on how to skirt around the law in order to obtain small business loans.
It's hard to imagine the scandal-plagued Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, suddenly developing a case of contrition or modesty. So the raft of reports racing across the blogosphere today that the New Orleans-based nationwide radical nonprofit network is on the brink of dissolving itself should be taken with a degree of skepticism. The move may be little more than savvy public relations. "ACORN has dissolved as a national structure of state organizations," remarked an unnamed senior official close to the organization. "Consistent with what the internal recommendations have been, each of the states are developing plans for reconstitution, independence and self-sufficiency." The source added that the splinter organizations "will be constituted under new banners and new bylaws and new governance.
Radicals long have used the judicial system as an effective last-ditch weapon to circumvent decisions by the legislative branch. This past Friday, one of their leading lights, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, better known as ACORN, showed the advantages of having a sympathetic federal judge in one's corner. This past Friday, U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon of the Eastern District of New York, a Clinton appointee, issued a preliminary injunction against the recent congressional cutoff of funds for the New Orleans-based nonprofit network.
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, has a justly earned reputation this decade for voter registration fraud, embezzlement and other illegal acts. Yet according to an eagerly-awaited internal assessment released yesterday, the radical nationwide nonprofit network's main, if not sole, problem is inadequate employee training and oversight. The audit, supervised by former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger, had been prompted by employees of ACORN offices in different cities caught in a video sting this summer giving advice on how to hide assets and falsify loan documents. The New Orleans-based "anti-poverty" organization and its defenders see vindication. Critics see a whitewash, a set of rigged conclusions. The latter view is hard to avoid.
The political blogosphere has been exploding these past couple weeks over a special congressional election in an unlikely portion of upstate New York. A key reason is the connections between the Republican candidate, Dede Scozzafava, and the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, a virtual adjunct to the more reprehensible sectors of the Democratic Party. An ACORN front group, the Working Families Party (WFP), on October 9 formally endorsed the Democratic opponent in this tight three-person race. But the WFP has endorsed Scozzafava more than once in the past. And a major reason is that her husband, Ron McDougall, is an organizer for one of the unions that created the party back in the late Nineties. Scozzafava has yet to repudiate either ACORN or the WFP.
With each passing week, the shadowy radical political network that has made possible the career of President Barack Obama is being dragged into the sunlight. And almost all paths of this network, directly or indirectly, lead to or from the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), a virtual corruption machine of the Democratic Party Left. One of the more disturbing aspects of the Obama-ACORN connection is that the White House political affairs director is one Patrick Gaspard.