Photoshop credit: Leo Alberti
Another bogus ACORN lawsuit
by Michelle Malkin
ACORN is doing what it does best: Playing the victim, blaming everyone else for its self-inflicted wounds, perpetuating false narratives, and defending the entitlement industry to the death.
On Thursday, the disgraced welfare rights organization filed suit over a congressional funding ban passed in September after nationwide undercover sting videos exposed ACORN’s criminal racket. The group and its web of non-profit, tax-exempt affiliates have collected an estimated $53 million in government funds since 1994. This pipeline is apparently a constitutionally-protected right. According to ACORN’s lawyers at the far Left Center for Constitutional Rights, the congressional funding ban constitutes a “bill of attainder” – an act of the legislature declaring a person(s) guilty of a crime without trial.
Now, cue the world’s smallest violin and pass the Kleenex: ACORN’s lawyers say the group has suffered cutbacks and layoffs as a result of the punitive funding ban. The congressional persecution means ACORN can no longer teach first-time-homebuyer indoctrination classes and – gasp – the loss of an $800,000 contract to conduct “outreach” on “asthma.” Message: The demons in the House who cut off ACORN (345 of them, including 172 Democrats) are cutting off oxygen to poor people!
“It’s not the job of Congress to be the judge, jury, and executioner,” CCR lawyer Jules Lobel moaned as he equated the House’s act of fiscal responsibility with the death penalty. “It is outrageous to see Congress violating the Constitution for purposes of political grandstanding,” CCR Legal Director Bill Quigley seethed without a shred of irony. “Congress bowed to FOX News and joined in the scapegoating of an organization that helps average Americans going through hard times to get homes, pay their taxes, and vote. Shame on them.” ACORN head Bertha Lewis, piled on in an affidavit lamenting the loss of state, local, and private foundation grants, which she blamed on the resolution. It “gave the green light for others to terminate our funds as well.”
What ACORN’s sob story-tellers leave out is the inconvenient fact that non-profits were bailing on ACORN long before undercover journalists Hanah Giles, 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 over $2 million in foundation money was being withheld as a result of the group’s $5 million embezzlement scandal involving founder Wade Rathke’s brother, Dale.
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 protection of members’ dues (and taxpayers’ funds). Rathke’s supporters on ACORN’s board helped cover up the crime by carrying the amount his brother embezzled as a “loan” on the books of Citizens Consulting Inc. CCI, the accounting and financial management arm of ACORN and its complex web of affiliates, is housed in the same building as the national ACORN headquarters in New Orleans. It’s also home to ACORN International, which Wade Rathke continues to head under a different name.
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 criminal 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.