ACORN funded political groups

SunshineReview.org reported today:

September 25, 2009

Before ACORN’s change in leadership to Bertha Lewis, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now transferred several million dollars in charitably donated and government money to groups with political and corporate missions, documents show.

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) released an analysis by his tax staff on Thursday showing that leaders of the ACORN’s network transferred the funds, more than half their charitable and public money, in 2006 to pay ACORN affiliates rather than to low income housing efforts…

..Grassley’s report says 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.”

ACORN officials said Grassley’s accusations are based on financial transactions that occurred before a leadership change in 2008. Co-founder and longtime director Wade Rathke was pushed to resign and Bertha Lewis took over after concealing from the full board that his brother, Dale Rathke and CFO of ACORN, embezzled almost $950,000 from ACORN between 1999 and 2000. According to Lewis, ACORN has shut down dozens of affiliates.

“Senator Grassley made up his mind, and he didn’t bother about the facts,” Lewis said in an interview. “He’s dealing with a lot of outdated information and decided to frame it with a predetermined conclusion. Yes, we had problems under Wade Rathke. . . . And we have been overhauling how we do things ever since.”…

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 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.

Lewis said transparency has improved since Rathke’s leadership as the board has been working to open its operations and make sure that all money transfers are well documented.

The entire article is here.

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