Striking the heart of the beast

ACORN Housing Boom
By Matthew Vadum on 3.2.10 @ 6:08AM

As ACORN gears up to use your tax dollars to influence future elections, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is conducting a “massive” probe of ACORN Housing Corp., a source familiar with the ongoing investigation says.

A spokesman for HUD’s inspector general refused to confirm or deny whether ACORN Housing was being investigated.

ACORN Housing is essential to ACORN’s member recruitment program. The housing affiliate strongly encourages its clients to pay ACORN $120 a year to be part of the class struggle. Many of the ACORN employees Americans saw on the undercover prostitution sting videos last fall are actually ACORN Housing employees. ACORN Housing’s website boasts that from 1986 to 2008 it counseled 338,025 clients, and originated 104,867 mortgages worth $15.5 billion.

The HUD probe comes as ACORN Housing, the best-funded of ACORN’s affiliates, participates in the ACORN network-wide rebranding aimed at duping funders and the public and allowing ACORN to continue to devour government grants.

Although ACORN is now converting state chapters into new shell corporations operated out of the same old ACORN offices and staffed by many of the same people, ACORN Housing opted simply to change its name.

ACORN’s latest public relations ruse may give it an opportunity to take in untold millions of taxpayer dollars under cover of darkness just in time to cause trouble during the 2012 election cycle.

The ruse consists of ACORN’s effort to pass off various state chapters as “new” groups supposedly independent of ACORN. In this rebranding charade state chapters are pretending to break away from the national ACORN group and reincorporate themselves as independent organizations.

But ACORN Housing is rebranding itself a little differently. In a marketing-savvy move, ACORN Housing has been rechristened Affordable Housing Centers of America Inc., which allows the entity to continue using AHC as an acronym.

ACORN Housing is a key component of the far-flung ACORN empire of activism which has long used its housing affiliate as a piggy bank — so it’s too important to be allowed to collapse.

Although the congressionally chartered nonprofit NeighborWorks, which serves as a weigh station for HUD grants, is reportedly not setting aside any 2009 funds for ACORN Housing, in 2008 alone it awarded ACORN Housing $25,050,939 in federal funding.(The 2008 grant documents are here, here, and here.)

The $25 million-plus figure for 2008 is more than ACORN Housing took in from the federal government in a 10-year span ending in 2007. In its tax returns ACORN Housing reported taking in $23,965,756 in government funding from 1997 through 2007.

This federal funding is a problem because ACORN Housing funnels funds — possibly including government funds — to ACORN and other affiliates in the ACORN network. The network is notorious for its commingling of funds and it has used government resources previously for partisan political activity.

During the Clinton administration ACORN and ACORN Housing used AmeriCorps resources to give partisan speeches and assist the Clinton White House in preparing a press conference in support of legislation.

In 2007, when ACORN Housing reported taking in $5,205,527 from the government, it also made a $119,509 loan to ACORN. The same year it also paid out $496,615 to the shadowy ACORN affiliate Citizens Consulting Inc. (CCI) for “administrative services.”

CCI is an essential part of the Louisiana attorney general’s current investigation into ACORN. CCI is also where Dale Rathke, brother of ACORN founder Wade Rathke, worked while he embezzled $948,000 from ACORN.

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