Billions To Stimulate Criminality
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Thursday, July 23, 2009 4:20 PM PT
Corruption: A nonprofit group committing a crime conjures up images of terrorist fundraising. But $8.5 billion in taxpayer money may go to specialists in political terror: the tax-exempt scam artists of Acorn.
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Did Democrats come to their present dominance of both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington thanks in large part to a "syndicate of tax-exempt organizations" that "has coordinated and implemented a nationwide strategy of tax fraud, racketeering, money-laundering and manipulating the American electorate"?
The reams of evidence provided by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee ranking Republican Darrell Issa of California and his GOP colleagues on the panel strongly suggest so.
Their more-than-80-page report charges that the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (Acorn) uses "a complex structure designed to conceal illegal activities" — 361 different entities in 120 cities, 43 states and the District of Columbia, amounting to a "shell game" that "diverts taxpayer and tax-exempt monies into partisan political activities."
The group has over the last 15 years received in excess of $53 million in federal funds. Moreover, as the report warns, "under the Obama administration, Acorn stands to receive a whopping $8.5 billion in available stimulus funds."
Acorn's improprieties, of course, are not news. As Issa's report notes, a third of the 1.3 million voter registration cards the organization solicited and presented in 2008 ended up being null and void; the group has been investigated for voter registration fraud in places such as Connecticut, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio.
A decade ago, an Acorn operative in Arkansas was arrested for falsification of voter registration forms. Soon after that, Philadelphia officials discovered hundreds of Acorn's falsified registration forms. In 2007, the state of Washington filed felony charges against several Acorn employees and supervisors for submitting more than 1,700 fraudulent voter cards.
Just last fall, federal agents raided Acorn's Nevada offices and in May of this year Nevada officials charged the organization and its state personnel with voter fraud. That was soon followed by seven Acorn officials in Pittsburgh being charged with voter fraud. Acorn has been accused of presenting at least 2,100 fraudulent registration forms in Lake County, Ind.
Superimposed upon these offenses are the alleged embezzlement practices of Dale Rathke, brother of the organization's founder, Wade Rathke, who apparently used a financial management company to "loan" himself over $948,600 in Acorn funds.
For eight years after the incident, Acorn kept him in its employ and failed to notify its board of the money grab. Acorn board members Marcel Reid and Karen Inman were actually kicked off for trying to investigate the Dale Rathke cover-up, and for seeking financial transparency within Acorn.
Inman's response to her removal last fall was to ask: "Why would you want us not to clean up things? Why would you not want to do your own investigation instead of bringing in the sheriff?"
Perhaps because a cleaned-up Acorn would not be able to operate effectively. Even the left-friendly National Public Radio has reported that the organization's financial sleight of hand "essentially gives them a cloak that prevents people from seeing really how they're spending money that comes, in some cases, from the taxpayers, in other cases, comes from members of their organization who pay dues."
Yet this corrupt outfit has actually been signed up as a national partner with the U.S. Census Bureau to help recruit the nearly 1.5 million workers who will count and classify our 306 million population for 2010. It's like getting a car thief to manage a parking garage.
As the Capital Research Center's Matthew Vadum has documented, $3 billion from the stimulus package, another billion dollars from HUD, and $4.5 billion in Community Development Block Grants look set to come Acorn's way for a total of $8.5 billion.
The Issa report further charges Acorn with submitting false filings to the IRS and the Labor Department, and violating the Fair Labor Standards Act and the ERISA law.
Amidst all this apparent illegality, the campaigns of President Obama, disgraced ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, are among the beneficiaries of financial contributions from Acorn and its affiliates.
"These actions are a clear violation of numerous tax and election laws," the Issa report charges.
Issa called it "outrageous that Acorn will be rewarded for its criminal acts by taxpayer money in the stimulus and is being asked to help with the U.S. census." He says the organization "cannot and should not be trusted with taxpayer dollars."
Don't hold your breath for justice. No doubt Attorney General Eric Holder will soon be too busy hounding former Vice President Dick Cheney — for his forceful effort in waging the global war on terror — to probe the shady outfit that helped elect his boss president.
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