Citigroup has advised NLPC that Senior Vice President Eric Eve has resigned for ACORN’s Advisory Committee. In a September 28 letter to Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit, I asked that the bank sever its relationship with ACORN, including Eve’s membership on the Committee.
In an October 29 reply, Citigroup also stated that it has “suspended our charitable financial support and program relationship with ACORN, and we are awaiting the results of the independent audit of ACORN activities now underway.”
This is ominous, and certainly leaves open the possibility of continued Citigroup support for ACORN. The “independent audit” is no such thing. It is an investigation of ACORN by itself, under the direction of ACORN ally Scott Harshbarger.
ACORN’s own description of the “audit” when it was announced on September 22, suggested that it would be something less than comprehensive:
This independent and thorough review, commissioned by the ACORN Board, will review a sample of ACORN service programs in several cities and create a written assessment of the program with a set of recommendations to allow the organization to run intake and service programs in an ethical, professional and effective manner. (emphasis ours)
Although the date has passed, ACORN announced that “Mr. Harshbarger’s preliminary findings will be completed by the end of October.” Surely, a real legal and financial audit of ACORN, and its hundreds of affiliates, would be a gargantuan undertaking. Even the completion of “preliminary findings” would take many months. It appears no real investigation was ever contemplated by ACORN or Harshbarger.
ACORN continues to act in bad faith by suing James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles, the two young filmmakers who produced the sting videotapes. If ACORN were actually committed to reform, it would have instead welcomed their successful efforts to expose criminality within ACORN. How can Citigroup leave the door open to renewed support when ACORN is going after these two filmmakers?
Citigroup’s letter plainly states just how committed it is to ACORN:
While we have suspended our financial support and program relationship with ACORN, Citi has worked with a variety of nonprofit partners over the years, including ACORN, to provide financial education, meet affordable housing needs and promote stable homeownership for low-to-moderate income customers. More recently, ACORN and other nonprofit partners have been helpful in foreclosure prevention efforts. In particular, they have helped us to make contact with distressed borrowers and keep them in homes through loan modifications.
Citigroup’s management still doesn’t get it. The company must sever its ties with ACORN once and for all.
Taxpayers are Citigroup’s biggest shareholders, owning 36% of common stock. The bank has received $45 billion in taxpayer TARP funds. In addition, taxpayers are on the hook for the lion’s share of losses on the company’s $335 billion loan portfolio.
According to ACORN’s September 22 press release, its Advisory Committee was comprised of:
* John Banks, Vice President of Government Relations Con Ed
* Dave Beckwith, Executive Director, Needmor Fund
* Henry Cisneros, Executive Chairman, Cityview
* Eric Eve, Senior VP of Global Consumer Group, Community Relations, Citigroup
* Harvey Hirschfeld, President, Lawcash
* Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Board Member, RFK Foundation, former MD Lt. Governor
* John Podesta, President and CEO, Center for American Progress
* Andrew Stern, International President, Service Employees International Union
Flaherty: ‘Deeper Scandal’ is ACORN Finances (video: CNN/Dobbs)
Flaherty: ACORN is ‘Big Laundromat’ for Money (video: CNN/Dobbs)