Tarnished ACORN Launches Re-Branding Effort

Monday, 22 Jun 2009 07:26 PM

By David A. Patten

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ACORN's entanglements with vote-fraud allegations have grown so radioactive that the organization may jettison the ACORN name altogether.

ACORN's global entity, ACORN International, announced June 17 that it has changed its name to "Community Organizations International."

Speculation is rampant that the parent ACORN organization, whose formal name is the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, is considering a name-change as well.

The rebranding is seen as an indication that mounting fraud allegations are taking a heavy toll.

"This may indeed be the beginning of an ACORN network-wide rebranding, but a rotten ACORN by any other name still stinks," Matthew Vadum, a staunch ACORN critic at the Capital Research Center think tank, tells Newsmax.

Vadum describes ACORN International as "a nonprofit group that aspires to spread the gospel of [radical community organizer] Saul Alinsky across the globe."

Criminal prosecutions and investigations pending against ACORN and its former workers include:

  • An ongoing FBI probe.

  • Fourteen states are looking into vote-fraud allegations against ACORN.

  • In Las Vegas and Pittsburgh, prosecutors have filed indictments against several former ACORN operatives. Charges focus on the organization's alleged practice of establishing quotas specifying the number of registrations workers were required to submit each day. Many states outlaw such quotas, for fear they may pressure canvassers into encouraging fraudulent registrations.

  • Ohio's Cuyahoga County has indicted Darnell Nash, an ACORN-registered voter, for voting illegally. Nash registered to vote on nine occasions, using different names and addresses each time.

  • Investigators have said that as many as 4,000 ACORN voter registrations in Ohio could be fraudulent.

    ACORN International has stated that its mission is to "sustain grassroots organizing throughout the world."

    ACORN and ACORN International have interlocking directorates. In its 2007 tax filing, ACORN International listed its president as Maude Hurd, who also serves as president of the parent ACORN organization. Both organizations are based in New Orleans.

    "ACORN's brand has been damaged through their own actions. It would certainly be understandable if they decided to change their name,” Marcel Reid, a former ACORN board member who now serves as chairman of ACORN 8, tells Newsmax.

    ACORN 8 is a group of former ACORN reformers who concluded that what really needs reform is ACORN.

    On June 11, ACORN attorneys wrote a letter to ACORN 8 alleging its name "has confused third-parties into believing that you are part of, you speak for, or have been endorsed by ACORN."

    The letter threatens "monetary damages and injunctive relief" if ACORN 8 does not "cease and desist from using the ACORN name."

    Reid counters that while ACORN is an acronym, ACORN 8 is her group's actual name. "We have no intention of changing our name unless required to do so," Reid tells Newsmax.

    Reid adds: "ACORN's brand has been damaged through their own actions. It would certainly be understandable if they decided to change their name.”

    ACORN's attorneys wrote in their letter to ACORN 8: "It appears you are benefiting from the goodwill established by ACORN at great expense to ACORN."

    Last fall, then-presidential candidate John McCain charged that ACORN was β€œon the verge of maybe perpetrating one of the greatest frauds in voter history in this country.”

    At the time, media critics suggested McCain was overreacting.

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