Thursday, September 24, 2009

Documents reveal: ACORN misusing charitable contributions

From the Washington Post
Documents released by a Senate Republican on Thursday show that leaders of the ACORN community organizing network transferred several million dollars in charitable and government money meant for the poor to arms of the group that have political and sometimes profit-making missions.

ACORN's tax-exempt groups and allied organizations... used more than half their charitable and public money in 2006 to pay other ACORN affiliates, according to an analysis by the tax staff of Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa).

On Thursday, Grassley called the transactions a "big shell game" and said ACORN donors may be surprised by how the liberal group known for helping the poor obtain housing and health care was spending their money. He urged the Internal Revenue Service to take a closer look.

According to the Grassley report, charities "are being used to raise monies which are then funneled to other charities or to other organizations for purposes other than what the donor may have intended. . . . Dollars raised for charitable [purposes] appear to be used for impermissible lobbing and political activity."...

Also on Thursday, Grassley requested that ACORN... be taken off a list of approved charities for federal employees to donate to in an annual giving campaign.

The senator's staff... finished much of their analysis in fall 2008, and it is based largely on 2006 financial transactions. The most recent data available cover transactions in 2007.

Project Vote, one of the most recognized organizations in the ACORN family, took in $8.6 million in 2006 but paid more than 60 percent of that -- $5.4 million -- to two groups then controlled by [former ACORN director Wade] Rathke. About $4.6 million went to ACORN for "contractual and campaign services" and $779,000 went to Citizens Consulting Inc., which charged ACORN affiliates on a percentage basis for bookkeeping services...
Incidentally, Barack Obama headed the Chicago branch of Project Vote in 1992. Additionally, the Obama campaign dolled out $832,598.29 to Citizens Services Inc. - in 2008 - for get-out-the-vote projects. Citizens Services Inc. and Citizens Consulting Inc. [which are perhaps one and the same] are both ACORN subsidiaries, and they both share the same New Orleans address as ACORN.

FEC disclosure reports initially filed by the obama campaign indicated that the payments to CSI went for "staging sound and lighting."

When it was later discovered that CSI doesn't perform stage, lighting or sound services, the Obama campaign apologized for the mislabeling error and announced it was amending its FEC filings to indicate it had hired CSI for "get out the vote" projects; which raised suspicions as to what the Obama campaign was trying to hide.

Blair Latoff, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee said at the time: "Barack Obama's failure to accurately report his campaign's financial records is an incredibly suspicious situation that appears to be an attempt to hide his campaign's interaction with a left-wing organization previously convicted of voter fraud. For a candidate who claims to be practicing 'new' politics, his FEC reports look an awful lot like the 'old-style' Chicago politics of yesterday."

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