Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Poor ACORN: Tax Evasion, Investment Fraud, Racketeering . . .

In March of this year, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), who is the House Chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, said, "I will certainly consider a hearing on ACORN if I ever hear any credible allegations."

In May, Congressman Steve King (R-IA), a member of the Judiciary Committee, demanded Congressional hearings into ACORN's finances when it was revealed that more than 250 nonprofits claimed ACORN's headquarters as their address, and that the Obama's campaign had paid one of those firms more than $800,000.

"This spider web, this myriad web of ACORN dollars and revenue streams, every bit of them should be looked at, all the corporations that they are networked with all of the boards of directors of those corporations, the inner locking connecting, the faces that are the same from board to board."

ACORN believes an investigation of its finances is "...a continuation of the right wing Republican attacks which continues to stalk ACORN. This ACORN as 'punching bag' redundancy is not worthy of your audience."

But FOX News has found more than 250 nonprofit groups list ACORN's New Orleans headquarters as their address. Among them is Citizens Services Inc., a firm that was paid more than $800,000 by the Obama campaign for a get-out-the-vote program last year.

Citizen Services lists two ACORN headquarters as its offices and even shares a third floor legal department with ACORN.


"ACORN has all these subsidiaries and affiliates that seem to be shell organizations with money being transferred between them and to investigate that takes a lot of resources," said [former FEC Commissioner Hans] von Spakovsky, a visiting legal scholar at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. "I really think that's the kind of thing that only someone like the FBI could thoroughly investigate."

By July, Republicans on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform were "accusing ACORN of violating several tax and election laws by using tax dollars to support its liberal political agenda." According to their report:

ACORN provided contributions of financial and personnel resources to indicted former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, and Barack Obama when he was running for president.

Heather Heidelbaugh, vice president of the Republican Lawyers Association, says ACORN has received $53 million from taxpayers and has access to $2.8 billion in the Obama administration.

"What we think has happened is that all of that money has gone into one account -- Citizens Consulting, Inc. -- and has been intermingled with members' dues, foundation grants, donors' grants, all sorts of other money; and then that money has been used to further the campaigns of people running for office that ACORN endorses," she explains. "That, clearly, is illegal."

Heidelbaugh, who calls the report "shocking," says ACORN is funneling tax dollars to its 361 affiliated organizations so they can carry out partisan political activity. Such a scheme, the lawyer argues, warrants a criminal investigation.

The report made a "case for ACORN as a criminal enterprise."

Among the findings, the report said, ACORN:

  • Engaged in tax evasion, obstruction of justice and aiding and abetting a cover-up of nearly $1 million embezzled by Dale Rathke, brother of group founder Wade Rathke;
  • Committed investment fraud, depriving the public of the right to "honest services," and engaging in a racketeering enterprise affecting interstate commerce;
  • Conspired to defraud the United States by using taxpayer dollars for partisan political activities;
  • Submitted false filings to the Internal Revenue Service, and the U.S. Department of Labor; and,
  • Violated the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act.

As Peter Roff of U.S. News & World Report concluded:

Any one of these is a serious allegation. Taken together, they give ACORN most every appearance of being some sort of massive criminal enterprise worthy of a federal investigation of the sort made under the terms of the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act—or RICO. In fact the group and its affiliates are currently the target of more than a dozen lawsuits related to voter fraud in the 2008 election alone.

And then, as even President Obama knows by now, the filmmaker/journalist team of O'Keefe and Giles, secretly videotaped staff members of 5 different ACORN offices attempting to help set up a child-prostitution business using federal funds. In response to the scandal, the House voted to stop ACORN from collecting any more tax dollars.

Did Jerrold Nadler think he had finally heard enough "credible allegations" to "consider" holding a hearing on ACORN's activities?


In fact, Nadler argued that cutting off ACORN's federal largesse would be “blatantly unconstitutional.”

Poor li'l ACORN.

According to Nadler:

“It may be that ACORN is guilty of various infractions, and, if so, it ought to be vetted, or maybe sanctioned, by the appropriate administrative agency or by the judiciary,” he said. “Congress must not be in the business of punishing individual organizations or people without trial.”

But Nadler still has not considered holding a hearing of the "various infractions" of which ACORN "may be" guilty.

To which the Republican Lawyers Association has made the following reply:

Hat tip: Libertyblog and Amanda Carpenter of the Washington Times.

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