I’ve been fighting alongside ACORN on issues you care about my entire career. Even before I was an elected official, when I ran Project Vote voter registration drive in Illinois, ACORN was smack dab in the middle of it, and we appreciate your work. — Barack Obama, Speech to ACORN, November 2007
The excuse parroted by most newsmedia for failing to give Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., a full vetting, such as they are doing with Sarah Palin, R-Alaska, is that “after 20 months of campaigning and debate,” all is known about the senator. Wrong!
For instance, how many voters know that Obama, during his four-year tenure in Chicago as a community organizer, worked as a trainer for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now — the infamous ACORN, whose affiliate, Project Vote, is known for voter fraud — the same ACORN from which a mighty mortgage mess has grown. Upon his return to Chicago after Harvard Law School, Obama provided legal representation for ACORN and for Tony Rezko (recently convicted of bribery and money laundering), who was Obama’s main money man during his years in the Illinois State Senate. Rezko had helped the Obamas purchase a home in Chicago’s politically correct Hyde Park. Obama sat on the boards of the philanthropic Woods Foundation and the Joyce Foundation, both of whom funneled millions of dollars to ACORN.
Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN)
Which community activist/political organization in the United States is the largest, most radical left, and most untrustworthy? The answer is ACORN, which bills itself as the nation’s largest community organization for the rights of low- and moderate-income families. Its hidden agenda, however, is to change the form of the U.S. government from a republic to a socialist oligarchy, using class warfare and the aid of radical liberals within the Democrat Party. This hidden agenda explains why the liberal newsmedia go mute on Obama’s ACORN ties.
ACORN, which began in 1970 as the Arkansas Community Organizations for Reform Now, evolved into the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. It was the brain-child of Wade Rathke, a well-to-do Williams College dropout who had worked for George A. Wiley at the National Welfare Rights Organization. Professor Wiley was a charismatic African-American PhD in chemistry at Syracuse University when he began his venture into social and political change — much like Obama. Wiley, however, came from a well-to-do family in Rhode Island.
Both Wiley and Rathke were influenced by Chicago’s radical activist Saul Alinsky and by the strategies set forth in his books, Reveille for Radicals (1964) and Rules for Radicals (1971). Disruption, intimidation, physical abuse, and ability to adapt to shifting political events are mainstays of the Alinsky rules and his end-justifies-the-means mentality. Rathke had been active in Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), known for its violence, and in the domestic terrorist group, the Weathermen, which bombed government offices. William Ayers and his wife Bernadine Dohrn, Chicago friends of Obama, also were members of SDS and the Weathermen. Obama chaired the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, funded by a grant obtained by Ayers. For six years, Obama and Ayers worked closely on this liberal boondoggle meant to improve education that was terminated in 2002.
The Cloward-Piven Strategy
Columbia University sociology professors Richard A. Cloward (1926-2001) and his wife, Frances Fox Piven, also influenced ACORN leaders. In 1966, the husband-and-wife team promulgated the Cloward-Piven Strategy to change the U.S. political landscape by overloading local, state, and federal agencies with welfare applicants making impossible demands and leading to violent confrontations with authorities. Cloward and Piven held that poor people can only advance when society is afraid of them. By advocating massive, no-holds-barred voter registration campaigns, they sought a Democratic administration in Washington, D.C. that would re-distribute the nation’s wealth and lead to a totalitarian socialist state. Their strategy to create political, financial, and social chaos that would result in revolution blended Alinsky concepts with their more aggressive efforts at bringing about a change in U.S. government. To achieve their revolutionary change, Cloward and Piven sought to use a cadre of aggressive organizers assisted by friendly newsmedia to force a re-distribution of the nation’s wealth. It would be telling to know if Obama, during his years at Columbia, had occasion to meet Cloward and study the Cloward-Piven Strategy.
In 1967, Cloward and Piven had recruited George Wiley to lead the National Welfare Rights Organization; and Wiley hired Rathke. The NWRO confrontations, sit-ins, and boycotts were highly successful. In 1975, when New York City was forced into bankruptcy as a result of overloading the welfare rolls with massive numbers of poor people, New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani called the Cloward-Piven Strategy “an effort at economic sabotage.” Nevertheless, the strategy worked and led to ACORN’s Project Vote. The Cloward-Piven Strategy and ACORN were major factors in passage of the “Motor-Voter” Act of 1994, which opened a can of worms.
Cloward and Piven were joined over the years by nouveau billionaires led by George Soros. Through his Democracy Alliance, they funded ACORN and Soros groups such as America Votes and Center for Community Change. If this is where Obama got his change message, we have a better idea of what kind of change he has in mind.
The new millennium take on the Cloward-Piven Strategy attempts to bring about this change by using Internal Revenue Service concepts that include tax-cuts to sugarcoat concurrent increases in collateral taxes on Medicare, sales, luxury, gas, user, licensing, property, employment. On the horizon are proposed taxes led by the Obama-sponsored Global Poverty Act that would tax every U.S. man, woman, and child $2,500 for a total of $845 billion to help the United Nations eliminate global poverty. The goal remains the same, to re-distribute the wealth of the nation.
Behind Closed Doors
ACORN, as a private organization, is not required to publicize its activities, donors, expenditures, members, or myriad of front organizations. ACORN is a membership organization with an estimated 175,000 member families in the United States and up to 500,000 member families worldwide paying at least $120 per year. With a budget of $100 million or more, ACORN employs about a thousand people. Money flows in to ACORN coffers from the federal government, including the present Bush Administration, and from such foundations as Heinz, Annie E. Casey, Open Society Institute, Ben and Jerry’s, as well as from the Woods Foundation and the Joyce Foundation, on whose boards Obama sat in Chicago.
Among the ACORN subsidiaries and satellites are the ACORN Institute, Project Vote, Service Employees International Union–Local 100, WalMart Alliance for Reform Now, ACORN Housing Corporation (AHC), Living Wage Resource Center, ACORN Law on the Web, KABF Radio, KRON Radio, Site Fighters, the quarterly journal Social Policy, Financial Justice Center, New York’s Working Families Party, Precinct Action League (PAL), Citizens Services Inc., Katrina Survivors Association, Citizens Counseling, Inc., and Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice. In 2008 Wade Rathke and his brother, who admitted to embezzling nearly a million dollars from ACORN, made their departure from the Association.
ACORN, Project Vote, and Voter Fraud
Although ACORN has pled to various charges of voter fraud, it continues today enrolling large numbers of voters, some legitimate and others not so much. ACORN tee shirts are visible at Obama rallies.
According to the Consumer Rights League, ACORN has been involved in voter fraud, directly or indirectly, in Louisiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, and Virginia. ACORN’s Project Vote, for which Obama was a paid employee in Chicago, is the organization that appears to be most active in voter fraud. ACORN and Project Vote have a rap sheet of voter misconduct and voter registration fraud that extends across the nation, as the following examples show:
Colorado — Television station KUSA reported that when hundreds of voter registration forms appeared suspect, election officials investigated and found a woman forging the forms, for which she received $50 a piece. Who was paying her? In January 2005, two ACORN employees were given community service for submitting false voter forms.
Florida — When incidents were reported of ACORN issuing fraudulent voter registration cards, a former ACORN field director charged that ACORN submitted “thousands of invalid registration cards”.
Minnesota — Election officials learned that ACORN canvassers were selling voter registration cards for $1 a piece. ACORN denied responsibility and fired the canvasser.
Missouri — St. Louis, Missouri election officials claim 1,492 of fraudulent voter address changes have been turned in by ACORN. Also Kansas City, Missouri had similar voter fraud attempts. Eight ACORN employees plead guilty to federal election fraud in Missouri.
Ohio — The Federal Election Commission found that, during the Ohio Democratic primary, the Obama presidential campaign paid more than $800,000 to a subsidiary of ACORN, Citizens Services Inc. (CSI). The payment apparently was for get-out-the-vote activities rather than the reported “polling, candidate advance work, and staging events”. The exact payment to CSI was for $832, 598.29 to cover services between February 25 and March 17, 2008.
The Cincinnati Inquirer reported that in 2004, a federal grand jury indicted four ACORN employees for submitting 19 fraudulent voter registration forms all with similar handwriting and false addresses.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported on August 28, 2008, that the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections (Cleveland) is investigating 75,000 voter registration forms––many found to be fraudulent and submitted by ACORN.
Pennsylvania — In March 2008, ACORN was accused by Philadelphia Election officials of filing fraudulent voter registration forms prior to the Democratic primary.
Washington State — ACORN was fined $25,000 by the state of Washington in 2007 for voter fraud committed by Project Vote. Five ACORN workers pled guilty to filing phony voter registration forms.
Wisconsin — In Milwaukee, 39 ACORN voter registration workers were referred to the District Attorney for possible voter fraud.
Obama, ACORN, and Mortgage Meltdown
In 1977 a Democrat Congress passed and President Jimmy Carter signed The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), and the ACORN Housing Corporation (AHC) was instrumental in its passage. The U.S. Congress through the CRA compelled banks and lending institutions to make loans to “communities of color” disregarding sound economic and risk guidelines. CRA encouraged the relaxing of “outdated” risk-management protocols and underwriting obligations by lending institutions. In the name of ending discrimination, no longer were “communities of color” required to provide verification of income, employment, credit history, ability to pay homeowner bills, or down payment. In response, many banks and mortgage groups bundled trillions of dollars of “subprime” loans and sold them to investors here and abroad. It is these bundled Community Reinvestment Act mortgages, doomed to fail, that are today causing financial strain in U.S. and global financial markets.
In short, a Democrat Congress and President demanded that banks change the rules of good banking and open the Pandora’s Box of mortgage defaults and foreclosures now coming to a head. This home-parity concept of the radical left was mobilized by ACORN. A creative example of the home-parity plan was the 80/20 mortgage. The buyer executed a first mortgage for 80 percent of the purchase price and simultaneously executed a second mortgage for the remaining 20 percent––resulting in a purchase of a property without any credit, income, employment, and zero down payment. Home-parity mortgages are a Cloward-Piven Strategy in action.
In October 1999, the president and chief operating officer of the quasi-governmental Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) was David Glenn, a former Clinton White House aide. Glenn declared, “We need to push into these underserved markets as much as we can.” That same year, the quasi-governmental Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) committed to opening half of its business to low- and moderate-income minority borrowers. Mortgage companies were encouraged to seek out Latinos, through Spanish-speaking loan officers. Illegal alien status constituted no impediment. Illegal aliens actually were encouraged to apply regardless of no income verification.
In September 1999, Fannie Mae had pledged to commit more than $1 billion to boost minority home ownership in Chicago by expanding a program to create more affordable housing. The commitment was enlarged to $10 billion over the next four years, and in 2003, Fannie Mae home-parity funding in Chicago reached $600 billion. When Franklin Raines, former chair and CEO of Fannie Mae, stepped down in 2004 but managed to take with him a multimillion-dollar parachute and a monthly pension of $114, 393 for life, and should he die, for his wife’s lifetime. Until recently, Raines was an advisor to Obama, who was the Senate’s second largest recipient of campaign contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
It is high time for Obama to disassociate himself from ACORN’s pattern of fraudulent voter registration drives and criminal charges. It is high time for election officials nationwide to scrutinize and scrutinize again new voters enrolled by ACORN and its affiliates. It is high time for U.S. taxpayers to demand an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice regarding the home-parity lending practices of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac––practices that, along with excessive compensation for “subprime” executives, triggered the present mortgage crisis.
James H. Walsh is a former federal prosecutor.
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