• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Morning Bell: What Would ACORN Do?

    Sarah Palin’s speech at the Republican National Convention infuriated the left for many reasons, but one of the barbs that seemed to upset them the most was her extended attack on community organizers. Weeks later, liberals settled on a retort to Palin that Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) voiced from the House floor: “Jesus was a community organizer. Pontius Pilate was a governor.” We’ll let Palin explain why she is no Pilate, but rest assured, comparing today’s “community organizers” to Jesus is an insult to Christians everywhere.

    Community organizing might sound like pauper’s work, but in today’s professionalized advocacy world, it is not. The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), had an operating budget of $37 million in 2006. ACORN is spending $16 million this year alone to register new Democrats nationwide. In today’s world, community organizing is big business, and that business is extortion. ACORN’s scam works like this: 1) identify deep pocket corporation; 2) protest that corporation; 3) sign a partnership with the corporation to end protest in exchange for money. From 2004 through 2006, ACORN won six-figure payments from Ameriquest Mortgage, Citibank, Washington Mutual and M&T Bank. It even won million-dollar payments from JP Morgan and Bank of America.

    When ACORN is not extorting money from corporations, it is pressuring politicians for taxpayer dollars. ACORN has been winning federal money since the Carter administration, and the Employment Policies Institute (EPI) estimates ACORN has received $16 million in federal tax dollars since 1997. In the 1990s, ACORN began shaking down local business communities and has established local “Housing Trust Funds” in more than 300 counties, cities and towns. The funds funnel money through groups like ACORN to produce new homes and refurbish existing ones. The holy grail for ACORN has been the establishment of a National Housing Trust Fund, and when the federal government was forced to take over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac this summer, ACORN’s allies in Congress succeeded in making that slush fund part of the deal.

    In addition to the extortion and swindling of taxpayers, ACORN also practices outright fraud. In 1986 a dozen ACORN members were convicted of vote fraud. In 2007, eight ACORN employees pleaded guilty to election fraud. This year ACORN has outdone itself. It is under investigation for vote fraud in a dozen states, including Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, New Mexico, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin.

    Last but not least, let’s not forget the hypocrisy. In 2001, when ACORN members tried to turn the group’s tactics on itself and organize its employees, the upstart members were summarily fired. And ACORN is not the only suspect community organizer. Just this past summer federal investigators raided a city-chartered nonprofit agency accused of abusing a federally financed program that was created to clean up houses damaged by Hurricane Katrina. The agency had been hired by the city to run a $3.6 million program intended to help elderly and poor New Orleans residents gut and board up their storm-damaged houses. Instead, the money appears to have gone to politically connected contractors who did little or no work on the houses. Is this how community organizers want to be known? Fraud, extortion and hypocrisy — all on the taxpayers’ dime.

    Quick Hits:

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    3 Responses to Morning Bell: What Would ACORN Do?

    1. Tom Scott, San Diego says:

      The National Housing Trust Fund is not for ACORN. It will be used by for-profit and nonprofit organizations that build and operate rental homes for those that cannot afford homeownership but still need an affordable and safe place to raise kids. Our economy cannot survive without low wage service workers, including those that cut your hair, serve your meals and clean your home and workplaces. Without these affordable homes they move their families from one substandard to apartment to another as rents are increased. Kids are moved from school to school and their parents can only afford to feed them unhealthy high starch – high sugar diets.

    2. Dag Johansen, Menlo says:

      Can you find a solid news report of "In 1986 a dozen ACORN members were convicted of vote fraud." That claim appears to be completely false. At least I can't find any solid proof of it.

    3. Pingback: Morning Bell: Media Watchdog Has No Bark | Conservative Principles Now

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.