Michael Gaynor
ACORN 8 played Glenn Beck very deftly
By Michael Gaynor
June 23, 2009

Sharing the whole truth with and being fully transparent to and accountable to the public are NOT on the ACORN 8 agenda.

It's a good thing that Glenn Beck left CNN last year and came to Fox and discovered ACORN corruption this year.

But Beck's been very deftly played by the ACORN 8, the dissident group vying for control of ACORN and using the cover up of the Dale Rathke embezzlement finally made public last year to try to take control themselves.

Mitigating circumstance: Beck was vulnerable after ACORN national spokesman Scott Levenson (who is white) told Beck that Beck's "afraid of white people." Seven of the original ACORN 8 are black, so Beck probably was thrilled to make friends with them quickly. He's already interviewed most of them on his television show and used his show to call for lawyers to come forward to provide free legal services to the ACORN 8 and viewers to donate to them. Seemingly smitten by ACORN 8 leader Marcel Reid, he calls her "Rosa Parks."

On the plus side: Beck also has interviewed Professor Thomas Sowell and Deroy Murdock (an American conservative syndicated columnist for the Scripps Howard News Service and a contributing editor with National Review Online) since his fateful encounter with Levenson and they know what they talk about and enlighten viewers.

It's not as simple with the ACORN 8 as Beck seems to believe.

If you go to the ACORN 8 website (www.acorn-8.net), you will find this splendid statement of purpose:

"Why We're Fighting

"ACORN is not living up to its original mission; and that is to give meaningful voice and empower low and moderate income members of society. ACORN has been corrupted from its original purpose by senior management and an organizational structure that exploits the low and moderate income membership ACORN was founded to serve.

"Voter fraud, voter registration fraud, unpaid taxes, unfair labor practices, etc, while tantalizing are not the problem, but merely symptoms of ACORN's corrupt leadership. The real problem with ACORN is its governance — and the lack of transparency and accountability of that leadership.

"Like you, we're activists. We're dedicated to helping people like ourselves — people of limited means — get a better shake. That's why we joined ACORN in the first place. That's why we're fighting now to make it an open organization with clean books, honest leadership and a willingness to grow through scrutiny and criticism."

The ACORN 8 are depicted as honorable, even noble, but the statement omitted to note that ACORN actually was founded as a subversive organization. It is NOT, as ACORN 8 leader Marcel Reid told Beck and his viewers, a wonderful organization that was hijacked recently.

There is a telltale sign on the ACORN 8 webpage: "Members Fighting for Truth, Transparency and Accountability within ACORN."

Those last two words — "within ACORN" — tell plenty.

Sharing the whole truth with and being fully transparent to and accountable to the public are NOT on the ACORN 8 agenda.

The first two ACORN 8 leaders who Beck interviewed are Ms. Reid and Karen Inmen.

Either they did not give Beck a copy of the minutes of the ISM Meeting in Chicago held on July 29, 2008, or he did not read them, or he's not about to let the truth get in his way.

I think it's the first possibility.

Ms. Reid and Ms. Inman are listed among the four ACORN members present.

Under "Wade Rathke's Labilities and other Liabilities Matters," it is stated:

"The Government will and can go after ACORN"

"ACORN could [go] after Wade for being on various boards and conflicts of interest and for mismanagement of funds and for the financial structures and that conflict of interests."

"IF the idea for ACORN to go after Wade is decided upon — the recommendation is to wait until after December — elections, ACORN needs to get their corporation in order, clean house in terms of getting paperwork in order, etc."

Ms. Reid and Ms. Inman wanted Wade Rathke replaced, but they did not necessarily want to go after him publicly ("IF") and certainly not before Election Day 2008!

In addition, the minutes state under "Wade Rathke's Labilities and other Liabilities Matters": "These matters are an issue not to be discussed with other board members, management staff UNLESS they have officially signed the joint defense agreement."

So much for "truth, transparency and accountability" even "within ACORN"!

That joint defense agreement is designed to conceal, not to reveal.

"Drafting the Joint Defense Agreement (With Sample Provisions)," by Daralyn J. Durie:

"It is generally assumed that a party supplying privileged information pursuant to a joint defense agreement retains the right to prevent disclosure of such information by the other participants even after a joint defense agreement is terminated....As a result, the joint defense privilege ordinarily will protect communications between parties unless and until the parties to the communication become actual adversaries in litigation....joint defense privilege cannot be waived without the consent of all parties to the defense, except when one of the joint defendants becomes an adverse party in the litigation...Because cooperating with the government, and even testifying against a former joint defense member, is generally not deemed 'actually adverse' to the interests of the other joint defense members, it does not trigger a waiver of the privilege. Instead, even when one defendant agrees to cooperate with the government and testify against his co-defendants, the assumption is that joint defense information will remain privileged, and will not be useable against the producing party."

When ACORN whistleblower Anita wrote of what happened at ACORN last year as a "cover up of the cover up," she put it perfectly.

ACORN could not have referred the Dale Rathke embezzlement to the authorities for investigation and prosecution without exposing the ugly truth about what ACORN was about and how it was operated.

From www.discoverthe networks.com:

"[Wade] Rathke...in 1970 formed a new organization called Arkansas Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN). He enlisted civil rights workers and trained them in a program (at Syracuse University) patterned after Saul Alinsky's activist tactics.

"The group's name was later changed to Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, but the acronym ACORN remained the same.... Under Rathke's leadership, ACORN grew rapidly. Today it claims more than 400,000 dues-paying member families, and more than 1,200 chapters in 110 U.S. cities....

"The Florida recount crisis in the 2000 presidential election served to inject Rathke and his fellow ACORN activists with a heightened sense of urgency to advance their political agendas. Initially, Miami-Dade County's all-Democrat canvassing board moved the recount into a room too small to accomodate reporters or Republican observers. At the same time, the board announced that since its members lacked time to hand-count all the ballots, they would only count some ballots — presumably, Republicans feared, selecting a disproportionate number of those that had been cast for Al Gore. The ensuing uproar, which featured Republicans pounding on the counting-room door and an angry crowd of Cuban-Americans gathered outside the building demanding entry, persuaded the nervous canvassing board to back down from its illegal plan — and perhaps prevented the Democrats from stealing the election.

"'[W]e allowed conservatives to steal pages from our playbook and do actions on us in Dade County,' Rathke later lamented in his magazine Social Policy. 'We need an edge, some harder steel on the rim.'

"With new resolve, Rathke and ACORN thereafter pushed into high gear their efforts to help Democrat candidates win political elections at any cost. Toward that end, ACORN's mass campaigns of voter-registration fraud would reach unprecedented heights in subsequent election cycles. ACORN's paid workers, tasked with registering as many pro-Democrat voters as possible, submitted many tens of thousands of fraudulent voter-registration cards in key voting districts around the United States. By 2008, federal authorities were investigating voter fraud by ACORN in 12 separate states.

"On June 2, 2008, Rathke stepped down from his role as ACORN's President. A month after his departure, the organization publicly acknowledged that Dale Rathke — Wade's brother — had embezzled nearly $1 million from ACORN and its affiliated groups in 1999 and 2000. ACORN further admitted that for eight years its executives had known about Dale's activity but had kept it secret from almost all of their board members and from law-enforcement authorities.

"According to journalist Stephanie Strom, Wade Rathke 'said the decision to keep the matter secret was not made to protect his brother but because word of the embezzlement would have put a "weapon" into the hands of enemies of ACORN, a liberal group that is a frequent target of conservatives who object to its often strident advocacy on behalf of low- and moderate-income families and workers.'"

Wade Ratke was partly right: protecting his brother Dale was NOT the real purpose.

The real purpose was to protect ACORN and himself from being investigated by the appropriate public authorities.

After the embezzlement was publicized, Tides Foundation founder and president Drummond Pike personally repaid the embezzled amount to ACORN.

That provided ACORN with more money for its subversive purposes, but it didn't provide the public with the truth about ACORN.

Wade Rathke was removed from ACORN last year, but not from ACORN International, which he still controls.

As those minutes quoted above reveal, ACORN was not about to go after Wade Rathke before Election Day 2008, if it ever did.


Common interest and vulnerability, of course.

Wade Rathke, in a July 25, 2008 blog at his website, WadeRathke.net, titled "Herr Obama," rejoiced over the prospect of a President Obama: "Can you remember the last time an American who didn't have a microphone in one hand and a guitar in another drew 200,000 people anywhere in Europe? And, that would have been as part of a festival where they were serving beer at the least. For 200,000 people to come out and hear a candidate for President is an amazing phenomenon. It makes me think that there is an excitement — and hope — around the world that America as the world's leader, might actually be a leader and have a leader that the world is willing to respect and hear differently."

Wade Rathke and the ACORN 8 all support Obama.

This week Glenn Beck discovered ACORN International and reported it on his television show as something new!

But ACORN International has been at work for five years.


"After 34 years of successfully building power for low and moderate-income families in the United States, ACORN is expanding. We have begun a new program to build partnerships with grassroots organizations in other countries. Through these partnerships, ACORN will help to strengthen democratic movements for social change abroad, while continuing our efforts building power for immigrant communities in the United States."

"ACORN International has offices in Argentina, Canada, Peru, and Mexico, and facilitates the India FDI Watch Campaign. We are establishing direct membership chapters in the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Kenya, and Nigeria and are exploring partnerships with established membership-based organizations in Indonesia, the Philippines, and South Korea."

Beck also reported that ACORN International had changed its name.

That's true!

Beck thinks of that as evidence that ACORN is about to rebrand itself.

Matthew Vadum of the Capital Research Center, an ACORN expert and a Beck guest:

"ACORN About to Rebrand Itself?

"ACORN, famous for its voter-registration fraud initiatives and its aggressive advocacy of disastrous subprime mortgages, may be about to embark on a huge rebranding effort in order to regroup and reinvent itself, or so TV talk-show host Glenn Beck believes.

"This effort may also indicate that the ACORN network is finally collapsing under the weight of its numerous scandals.

" * * *

"The recent revelation that Wade Rathke, the disgraced founder of ACORN, has renamed ACORN International, which is ACORN's international consultancy, is at a minimum a sign that Rathke is trying to dissociate the ACORN affiliate from the oceans of bad ink which ACORN has received in the U.S. over the last year.

"It appears that the ACORN brand is so tarnished that Rathke no longer wants to be associated with it because of all the problems that he, ironically, is responsible for, the Washington Times reported.

"The new name for ACORN's international affiliate is Community Organizations International.

"ACORN International is a nonprofit group that aspires to spread the gospel of the radical community organizer Saul Alinsky across the globe."

But this appears to be wishful thinking, an ACORN 8 tactic, or both.

Mr. Vadum:

"Something about this rebranding-in-progress — if that's what it really is — doesn't seem right, though.

"As I noted earlier, ACORN is suing whistleblower Anita MonCrief to shut her up. ACORN also sent a cease-and-desist letter to the reformers of the 'ACORN 8' — former ACORN members who are now revealing the organization's many transgressions — in order to bully them into silence.

"It doesn't make sense to use up legal resources on these activities if the ACORN network is preparing to change its name in an effort to improve its image. It could be that Rathke himself, who was forced out as chief organizer of ACORN last year after officials learned he had covered up his brother's $1 million embezzlement for eight years, took the initiative all by himself.

"It could also be that ACORN is serious about protecting its property, including its ACORN trademark (as it claims in the lawsuit against MonCrief and the letter to the ACORN 8 ) and told Rathke in no uncertain terms that he couldn't use it anymore.

"Time will tell."

Actually, it DOES make sense to try to shut up Ms. MonCrief, because she's telling the WHOLE ugly truth, she's moved from liberal to "ex-liberal" and she's not running for Chief Organizer of ACORN. She's not being sued because she's rich.

In addition, those minutes of that July 29, 2008 meeting also show, under "Action Steps Based on the Meeting," that the people who would remove Wade Rathke from ACORN wanted the ACORN name: "Maude [Hurd, ACORN president] meeting with the internal boards and if they cannot respect the decision and terms regarding working with Wade — they would need to remove the ACORN name from all efforts and work and remove themselves from the 'union.'"

Maybe a starting admission on Beck's show yesterday will open Beck's eyes as to the ACORN 8, like they have been opening to ACORN this year: ACORN 8's Coya Mobley stated that last year in Detroit when she helped remove Wade Rathke, she also was part of an ACORN demonstration at a bank.

Maybe not.

It really would help Beck to understand if he would have Ms. Reid give him copies of the July 29, 2008 meeting minutes, the joint defense agreement and the Elizabeth Kingsley, Esq. report on ACORN's legal problems dated July 17, 2008 and distributed at that meeting.

Reading the transcripts of Ms. MonCrief's testimony in the Pennsylvania ACORN case heard last October and attorney Heather Heidelbaugh's testimony before a House Judiciary subcommittee last March would help too.

© Michael Gaynor


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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Michael Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member... (more)


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