Forgive me, I know this is long, but worth reading. A little bit about Acorn's history and why we should not tolerate them.
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) is a grassroots political organization that grew out of George Wiley's National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO), whose members in the late 1960s and early 70s invaded welfare offices across the U.S. -- often violently -- bullying social workers and loudly demanding every penny to which the law "entitled" them. In the late 1960s, ACORN co-founder Wade Rathke was a NWRO organizer and a protegé of Wiley. Rathke also organized draft resistance for the militant group Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) during the same period.
In 1970 Rathke -- along with the aforementioned Wiley (best known for his effective use of the so-called "Cloward-Piven strategy," which called for swamping the welfare rolls with new applicants and thereby creating an economic crisis) and Gary Delgado (a lead organizer for Wiley's NWRO) -- formed a new entity called Arkansas Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). The group's name was later changed to Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, but the acronym ACORN remained. Instead of focusing only on welfare recipients, ACORN's mandate included all issues touching low-income and working-class people.
Rathke and his ACORN co-founders enlisted civil rights workers and trained them in a program (at Syracuse University) patterned after Saul Alinsky's activist tactics.
Today ACORN claims more than 400,000 dues-paying member families, and more than 1,200 chapters in 110 U.S. cities. (The organization is also active in Canada and Mexico). It owns two radio stations, a housing corporation, and a law office, and maintains affiliate relationships with a host of trade-union locals. ACORN also runs schools where children are trained in class consciousness; a network of "boot camps" for training street activists; and operations that extort contributions from banks and other businesses under threat of racial violence and trumped-up civil rights charges.
In 1998, ACORN founded the Working Families Party in New York, which endorses candidates for political office. It endorsed Hillary Clinton in her 2000 Senate race. Canvassers from ACORN and its sister groups launched a statewide voter-mobilization drive that proved influential in Clinton's victory. In November 2001, a coalition of radical politicians led by ACORN-sponsored candidates running on the Working Families Party ticket won a veto-proof majority on the New York City Council, giving ACORN de facto control of the New York City government.
With little opposition from Republicans or moderate Democrats, ACORN radicals pushed laws tightening their control over New York City government and stripping the Mayor of executive power. Their current platform calls for a rollback of welfare reforms; a crackdown on NYC police, including a ban on "racial and ethnic profiling"; and the appointment of a politicized Civilian Review Board newly empowered to prosecute police officers. ACORN also seeks to use its influence to raise corporate taxes, increase regulation, and empower unions with an array of new rights. ACORN seeks to prevent any corporation from being free to leave New York without an "exit visa" from the City Council.
On March 12, 2003, the ACORN-controlled City Council passed a resolution, by a 31-17 margin, condemning the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
In the 2004 election cycle, ACORN and its sister group Project Vote ran a nationwide voter mobilization drive that was marred by allegations of fraudulent voter registration, vote-rigging, voter intimidation, and vote-for-pay scams. ACORN's get-out-the-vote activists were implicated in schemes that included the falsification and destruction of thousands of voter registration forms, and the registering of convicted felons even in states where felons are ineligible to vote.
In 2006, approximately 20,000 questionable voter registration forms were turned in by ACORN officials in Missouri -- virtually all in the St. Louis and Kansas City areas, where ACORN purportedly sought to help empower the "disenfranchised" minorities living there. Similar allegations of ACORN voter fraud were made in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Colorado. Between 2004 and 2006, ACORN employees were accused of submitting fraudulent voter registration cards and forging signatures on ballot initiatives in 12 states.
Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin writes:
"[In July 2007] 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 [were] forwarded to the city district attorney's office."
ACORN makes a great deal of money from its "community organizing" campaigns, and shows little tolerance for rival leftist groups infringing on its turf. For instance, when ACORN set up shop in San Francisco in May 2002, it discovered that many of its potential recruits - low-income blacks and Hispanics - were networked with the Outer Mission Resident's Association (OMRA). The San Francisco Examiner reports, "ACORN soon began a process of intimidation by busing in activists from Oakland to disrupt OMRA events. ACORN members then began showing up at some neighbors' homes, and in one case jabbed a person in the chest."
Since ACORN is a private corporation, it does not divulge its finances. Further complicating any effort to calculate ACORN's income is the fact that it operates an unknown number of front groups, many of which conceal their relationship to ACORN. But as of March 2006 ACORN claimed 175,000 member families on its website, each contributing at least $120 per year, which amounts to about $21 million in annual membership fees. ACORN's website states, "Membership dues and a host of grassroots and chapter-based fundraising programs pay for 70 to 75 percent of the entire organization's budget."
Since its inception in 1970, ACORN's overriding mission has been to enact "living wage" ordinances at the local, state and - ultimately - federal levels. It has succeeded in getting many such laws passed. ACORN's model legislation contains a clause that exempts unionized businesses from paying the minimum wage. As a result, those companies that stubbornly resist unionizing founder and, in many cases, go bankrupt. Those that unionize thrive, providing an ever-expanding membership base for union recruiting. This is the main reason that unions such as AFSCME and SEIU contribute so generously to ACORN.
Housing activism is another major focus for ACORN, which forms housing collectives in targeted areas. The collective applies pressure on local authorities to place it in charge of renovating and managing abandoned or dilapidated properties for poor tenants. Local authorities provide money for renovation -- much of which ends up in ACORN bank accounts. The poor tenants are compelled to "earn" their new homes by investing "sweat equity" -- that is, working without pay on renovating the properties. ACORN or its designated "housing collective" retains title to the land on which the building stands. If the tenants decide to move out, they are required to sell their property back to ACORN, at cost, no matter what the market value of the property.
In recent years, ACORN has received funding from many foundations, including but not limited to the Annie E. Casey Foundation; the Minneapolis Foundation; the Open Society Institute; the Public Welfare Foundation; the Surdna Foundation; the Woods Fund of Chicago; the Scherman Foundation; and the Ben and Jerry's Foundation.
At the March 2008 "Take Back America" conference sponsored by Campaign for America's Future (CAF), ACORN joined CAF and five additional leftist organizations in announcing plans for "the most expensive [$350 million] mobilization in history this election season." The initiative focused on voter registration, education, and get-out-the-vote drives. Other members of the coalition included MoveOn.org, Rock the Vote, the National Council of La Raza, the Women's Voices Women Vote Action Fund, and the AFL-CIO.
On June 2, 2008, Wade Rathke stepped down from his role as ACORN's chief organizer.
Also in 2008, ACORN publicly acknowledged that Dale Rathke -- the brother of Wade Rathke -- had embezzled nearly $1 million from ACORN and affiliated groups in 1999 and 2000. ACORN further admitted that for eight years its executives had kept this information secret from almost all of their organization's board members and from law-enforcement authorities. Wrote journalist Stephanie Strom in July 2008:
"Dale Rathke remained on Acorn's payroll until a month ago, when disclosure of his theft by foundations and other donors forced the organization to dismiss him. 'We thought it best at the time to protect the organization, as well as to get the funds back into the organization, to deal with it in-house,' said Maude Hurd, president of ACORN. 'It was a judgment call at the time, and looking back, people can agree or disagree with it, but we did what we thought was right.'"
According to Strom, Wade Rathke "said the decision to keep the matter secret was not made to protect his brother but because word of the embezzlement would have put a 'weapon' into the hands of enemies of ACORN, a liberal group that is a frequent target of conservatives who object to its often strident advocacy on behalf of low- and moderate-income families and workers."
In September 2008 the Board of Elections in Cuyahoga County, Ohio accused ACORN's paid workers, who had been tasked with registering as many pro-Democrat voters as possible, of submitting fraudulent voter-registration cards. According to the Board, ACORN workers had commonly turned in separate cards with duplicate names but different addresses or different birth dates. Other cards listed people living at an address that was not a residence.
Also in 2008, there was evidence that ACORN corruption was rampant in Pennsylvania. For example, Philadelphia's City Commissioners voted unanimously to present to the U.S. Attorney hundreds of fraudulent voter-registration forms turned in by the organization. All told, at least 50,663 registrations were rejected, among which were 35,888 duplicates, 689 that were filled out by people too young to vote, some 2,108 with missing signatures, another 5,093 with invalid addresses, and 6,161 not eligible because they were missing a valid HAVA (Help America Vote Act) number. Similarly, ACORN workers submitted hundreds of fraudulent registrations to the Delaware County, Pennsylvania Voter Registration Office.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Attorney's office in Michigan indicated that it might prosecute ACORN for similar voter-registration scams in that state. Registrars there had complained about duplicate registrations and fictitious names. "There appears to be a sizable number of duplicate and fraudulent applications," said Kelly Chesney, spokeswoman for the Michigan Secretary of State's office. "And it appears to be widespread."