Michael Gaynor
The rest of the story about the Kingsley Report on ACORN
By Michael Gaynor
October 2, 2009

Part of a page of the Kingsley Report that Ms. MonCrief was shown by Ms. Reid was covered, however, and now page 14 is missing. That should set off alarm bells, especially for those who believe that the names of persons who knew of the embezzlement and kept silent are on page 14.

On October 1, 2009, Matthew Vadum, a senior editor at Capital Research Center, announced in an American Spectator article titled "ACORN's Prophetic Lawyer" that the "sensitive" legal memorandum dated June 19, 2008 (the day before ACORN's national board ousted ACORN founder and chief organizer Wade Rathke), addressed to ACORN and major affiliates ACORN Beneficial Association, ACORN Housing Corp., ACORN Institute, ACORN Votes, American Institute for Social Justice, Citizens Consulting Inc., Citizens Services Inc., Communities Voting Together, Pennsylvania Institute for Community Affairs Inc., and Project Vote (formally, Voting for America Inc.), reporting confidentially on ACORN's huge legal problems and prepared by attorney Elizabeth Kingsley of Harmon, Curran, Spielberg Eisenberg LLP (hereafter referred to as the Kingley Report) would be posted at BigGovernment.com later that day and so it was (albeit without explanation as to why a letter dated in 2008 appeared on paper bearing a 2004 fax date).

It's about time!

On May 18, 2009, on "The O'Reilly Factor," ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief announced that she was working with ACORN 8 head Marcel Reid and had seen the Kingsley Report and urged that it be made public.

It finally was!

That's terrific news for those who care about how ACORN has corrupted the political process in America in order to implement a radical agenda.

But that's terrible news for The New York Times, which killed an Obama/ACORN expose on the very day that it reported (very selectively) on the Kingsley Report, and others supporting the radical agenda.

Vadum: "The memo is a kind of Holy Grail for ACORN researchers. One source of mine keeps a copy in a safety deposit box. I've lost track of how many people have asked me over the last year if I knew how to get a hold of it. One source told me yesterday that there are many people who would 'kill' to gain possession of it. This is a bit of an exaggeration perhaps, but not much."

That's ACORN 8 head Marcel Reid, isn't it?

Ms. Reid provided a copy of the report to New York Times national correspondent Stephanie Strom nearly a year ago, didn't she?

Ms. Strom's last ACORN article — "Acorn Report Raises Issues of Legality" (October 21, 2008) included excerpts from the Kingsley Report, but hardly did justice to either the Kingsley Report or Times readers.

Shamefully, The Times had just decided to make Ms. Strom "stand down" on an ACORN/Obama expose. Thus, the Strom article on the Kingsley Report was understandably (albeit outrageously)...understated.

The Strom article began:

"An internal report by a lawyer for the community organizing group Acorn raises questions about whether the web of relationships among its 174 affiliates may have led to violations of federal laws.

"The group, formally known as the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, has been in the news over accusations that it is involved in voter registration fraud, charges it says are overblown and politically motivated.

"Republicans have tried to make an issue of Senator Barack Obama's ties to the group, which he represented in a lawsuit in 1995. The Obama campaign has denied any connection with Acorn's voter registration drives.

"The June 18 report [note: apparently should be June 19], written by Elizabeth Kingsley, a Washington lawyer, spells out her concerns about potentially improper use of charitable dollars for political purposes; money transfers among the affiliates; and potential conflicts created by employees working for multiple affiliates, among other things.

"It also offers a different account of the embezzlement of almost $1 million by the brother of Acorn's founder, Wade Rathke, than the one the organization gave in July, when word of the theft became public.

"'A full analysis of potential liability will require consultation with a knowledgeable white-collar criminal attorney,' Ms. Kingsley wrote of the embezzlement, which occurred in 2000 but was not disclosed until this summer."

The embezzlement (first publicly reported by The Times) was old news by then and the truly explosive nature of the report was not evident from the carefully written article.

BigGovernment.com posted what Vadum provided.

But that was NOT the entire Kingsley Report.

Vadum misidentified in his article David A. Norcross as the president of the Republican National Lawyers Association (Norcross is chair, Charles H. Bell, Jr. is president).

That confusion is understandable, but Vadum's description of the copy of the Kingsley Report that he provided to BigGovernment.com as "complete" is not.

Yes, Vadum added: "[The Kingsley Report] consists of sequentially numbered pages, but one page — page 14 — is missing, so in my file page 13 abruptly jumps to page 15. My source, who insists on anonymity, says the document arrived in that form via a fax machine. I have not retouched or altered the document in any way except where I superimposed the logo of the think tank I work for, Capital Research Center."

I trust that Vadum provided a true copy of what he got to BigGovernment.com, but Ms. Reid, received a complete copy of the report at the meeting and the copy that she showed to Ms. MonCrief had all pages.

Part of a page of the Kingsley Report that Ms. MonCrief was shown by Ms. Reid was covered, however, and now page 14 is missing. That should set off alarm bells, especially for those who believe that the names of persons who knew of the embezzlement and kept silent are on page 14.

New York Times apologist (officially, public editor) Clark Hoyt has had the Kingsley Report for months and he did not mention a missing page in his email with ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief about the Kingley Report.

I included the texts of that entire email exchange in two articles — "Times Public Editor Seeking Facts About Times Killing ACORN-Obama Expose Before 2008 Election From ACORN Whistleblower Anita MonCrief" (http://www.webcommentary.com/php/ShowArticle.php?id=gaynorm&date=090421 and "Exposing the Truth About ACORN, Obama and New York Times Expose Spiking" (http://www.webcommentary.com/php/ShowArticle.php?id=gaynorm&date=090518).

On April 24, 2009, Hoyt emailed Ms. MonCrief: "I don't have the Elizabeth Kingsley report in electronic form. I have a paper copy from Stephanie. If she is comfortable with my sharing it with you, I will."

She wasn't, and he didn't. On May 5, 2009, Hoyt emailed Ms. MonCrief: "Stephanie provided me with a paper copy of the Elizabeth Kingsley report. She asked that I not share it with you, and I have to respect that. It may have identifying marks on it that would indicate where she obtained it. She said she believes that you have a source for obtaining the report."

The would be the same person who I believe gave copies to Ms. Strom and Vadum, Ms. Reid.

Ms. Reid let Ms. MonCrief see the Kingsley Report, with part blocked out, last Mother's Day, a few hours before Ms. MonCrief was interviewed live on Fox News by Eric Shawn and after Hoyt had written an op-ed denying that The Times had killed an Obama/ACORN expose before the last election day.

Vadum: "Underscoring how important the document is to ACORN, all pages except the first page bear lawyerly caveats at the top: 'Sensitive Report — Do Not Distribute Beyond Initial Recipient List.' Perhaps that's community organizer-speak for 'TOP SECRET.'"

Anyone believe that page 14 was missing from the report distributed at the meeting?

Sadly, Vadum seems to have backed the myth told by Ms. Reid that ACORN was a wonderful organization that was hijacked recently, stating: "The Kingsley memo paints a picture of a once-proud activist conglomerate in utter meltdown and confirms some of the most serious allegations about ACORN now being heard on Capitol Hill."

ACORN surely has had many well-intentioned members and employees, but it was created and operated by Wade Rathke to foist a radical agenda on America.

But Vadum highlights important parts of the Kingsley Report that Ms. Strom did not.

UNLIKE The New York Times, Vadum reported:

"Key ACORN affiliates argue they are not '"affiliated," "related," or "controlled" by or with each other, for various legal purposes, while allowing actual control to be exercised in a highly coordinated manner,' [Ms. Kingsley] writes. ACORN suffers from 'an organizational culture that resembles a family business more than an accountable organization.'

"She argues 'it may be time to consider whether direct governance control and/or acknowledged connections are appropriate, rather than trying to pretend that these groups are not connected to one another and create control mechanisms behind the scenes.'

"'The IRS says that it cares about governance because it finds good governance linked to legal compliance, and slip-shod or absent governance and internal accountability are red-flags for tax and other legal problems,' Kingsley counsels. 'In this case, the IRS is right.'"

That's NOT in the Strom article!

UNLIKE The New York Times, Vadum reported Ms. Kingsley's appraisal of ACORN's needs for a whistle blower policy as "critical," a document retention and destruction policy (even a simple one just prohibiting illegal destruction of documents) and contemporaneous documentation of Board and Committee meetings as "urgent" and a conflicts of interest policy and a documented process for determining compensation for the CEO and any other officers or key employees as "important."

UNLIKE The New York Times, Vadum reported on ACORN nepotism.

Being familiar with the Dale Rathke embezzlement scandal (and disputing the part of the "official story"), Ms. Kingsley recommended adoption of "an appropriate anti-nepotism policy," stating: "This is not to suggest a draconian policy that does not permit hiring of related people...But a minimal responsible policy would probably require that immediate family members or people in a domestic partnership or dating relationship not be one another's direct supervisors.... Critically, all staff must be required to recuse themselves from any decisions relating to the employment of their relatives."

Vadum dryly noted: "Founder Wade Rathke might have been wise to adopt an anti-nepotism policy. His brother Dale embezzled $948,000 from ACORN while working there. Even after Wade covered up the theft, he kept Dale on the payroll for eight years. Wade's wife, Beth Butler, and reportedly, his two children also work at ACORN."

More importantly, as to political activities, Ms. Kingsley stated: "It may be that activities are carried out with adequate independence, but without formal policies and separation of staff functions, there are potential liabilities and problems of proof."

That sentence is "worthy" of The New York Times in minimize mode!


"Citizens Services Inc. (CSI), an ACORN affiliate that received $832,598 from the Obama campaign for get-out-the-vote work during primary season, is a prime example. Kingsley writes that '[w]ithin both CSI and ACORN, there needs to be a formal policy adopted and implemented and enforced that separates independent political activity from anything coordinated with a candidate or party.'

"This was so urgent that Kingsley insisted the new policy had to be in place 'by the end of the month' or the following month."

That didn't make The New York Times either.

Nor did Ms. Strom, who had been working with ACORN whistleblower Anita MonCrief on an Obama/ACORN expose involving illicit coordination between the Obama presidential campaign and ACORN affiliate Project Vote, mention the Obama campaign at all when she delicately discussed the relationship between ACORN and Project Vote.

Ms. Strom:

"Ms. Kingsley's concerns about the way Acorn affiliates work together could fuel the controversy over Acorn's voter registration efforts, which are largely underwritten by an affiliated charity, Project Vote. Project Vote hires Acorn to do voter registration work on its behalf, and the two groups say they have registered 1.3 million voters this year.

"As a federally tax-exempt charity, Project Vote is subject to prohibitions on partisan political activity. But Acorn, which is a nonprofit membership corporation under Louisiana law, though subject to federal taxation, is not bound by the same restrictions.

"'Project Vote and Acorn have a written agreement that specifies that all work is nonpartisan,' Michael Slater, Project Vote's new executive director, wrote in answer to e-mailed questions about the relationship.

"But Ms. Kingsley found that the tight relationship between Project Vote and Acorn made it impossible to document that Project Vote's money had been used in a strictly nonpartisan manner. Until the embezzlement scandal broke last summer, Project Vote's board was made up entirely of Acorn staff members and Acorn members.

"Ms. Kingsley's report raised concerns not only about a lack of documentation to demonstrate that no charitable money was used for political activities but also about which organization controlled strategic decisions.

"She wrote that the same people appeared to be deciding which regions to focus on for increased voter engagement for Acorn and Project Vote. Zach Pollett, for instance, was Project Vote's executive director and Acorn's political director, until July, when he relinquished the former title. Mr. Pollett continues to work as a consultant for Project Vote through another Acorn affiliate.

"'As a result, we may not be able to prove that 501(c)3 resources are not being directed to specific regions based on impermissible partisan considerations,' Ms. Kingsley said, referring to the section of the tax code concerning rules for charities."

That's a lengthy discussion of the ACORN/Project Vote relationship, but not a word about the Obama campaign providing its 2d quarter 2007 donor list to Project Vote.

Vadum personally concluded: "ACORN, as it turns out, is an ugly, corrupt organization. It is just as bad, just as evil, as people said it was. If you don't believe me, ask Elizabeth Kingsley."

Then Vadum ended his article this way:

"The Republican National Lawyers Association, which has been in the forefront of the push to investigate ACORN, sounded just the right note. Said RNLA president [note: should be chair] David Norcross:

'ACORN should view their current situation as an opportunity to truly reform itself and place the interests of its members first and they can start by re-examining the report by Elizabeth Kingsley and addressing the malfeasance and dysfunction running rampant within their organization.'"

That's the WRONG note!

ACORN is a corrupt, criminal, subversive organization that should be investigated, prosecuted and dissolved, not reformed.

© 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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