Saturday, May 9, 2009

ACORN and Our Tax Dollars

The Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now is a non-profit organization that advocates for the poor. They were founded in 1970 and have 110 chapters in 40 states. They also do work to register voters.
I don’t think you are going to find many people who are against an organization that advocates for the poor. The problems that people have with ACORN has to do with the tactics that they use. In order to help minorities and the poor get mortgages who would not normally qualify they have used such tactics as staging sit-ins at the homes of bank executives to force them to give those mortgages.
ACORN is a very large organization that has many arms. Some that are tax-exempt and some that are not. ACORN also receives tax payer dollars to help with the costs associated with the voter registration, to the tune of $53.6 million since 1994. The organization pays people an hourly wage to go out and register people to vote. Most of these activities take place in lower income neighborhoods. Worker after worker has admitted that they forged registration forms in order to get paid and to keep up with the daily quotas. The State of Nevada has begun a criminal investigation and will be taking the case to court.
It has come out the founders brother embezzled $1,000,000 from the organization and apparently was kept on the books as a loan. He continued on the payroll for 8 years after the embezzlement was discovered, and the act was covered up by high levels of management. After the information became public the founder and his brother were fired. But since that time no forensic accounting has been done. The same company that was doing the audits during the time of the embezzlement is still doing the audits today.
The questions that naturally arise are why our tax dollars is going to organization that is not willing to open up it books to an audit after this crime was committed. This is non-profit organization; the accounting rules for the tax exemption are normally very strict. As I have worked for non-profits in the past, I know this to be true. Another question that naturally arises is why they are getting the tax dollars when they openly supported President Obama during the election. If they are getting tax dollars they need to be bi-partisan in order to keep that status.
Marcel Reid was running the organization in Washington DC after the termination of the CEO and CFO. She was also a board member. During her tenure she has pressed for a full forensic accounting of the books, but she has been terminated from the board. Her repeated request to open the books for an audit has been ongoing for more than 3 years.
Marcel Reid and others have joined together and formed the ACORN 8. Ms. Reid is still technically employed by ACORN but has been stopped from going to her office. So her pleas for the audit are not being heeded. Marcel Reid believes in the work ACORN can do. She wants to continue to advocate for the poor, but feels that this organization is actually hurting the very people that they say they want to help. She feels that ACORN has turned into a large money operation and is losing the focus that it was founded to do.
Taxpayers have every right to demand an investigation into this organization as they are taking our hard earned dollars. There has been congressional testimony that is questioning the tax exempt status of the organization; as no one is sure if the tax exempt money is being used for activities that don’t fall under the legal exemptions. Representative Conyers recently released a statement saying an investigation is not warranted at this time. I would like an answer as to why. It makes me wonder if the democrats are more interested in keeping the organization that registers voters that are more inclined to vote for the Democratic Party than they are in the truth.

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