Monday, September 21, 2009

Where the Illegal Things Are

President Barack Obama finally waded into the ACORN mess and promptly delivered a mishmash of lies and obfuscations.

It isn't something he's followed closely? Why is that? The videos are shocking enough, but ACORN's response has been even more shocking in claiming that these were merely isolated cases and that fault rested with the duo who filmed the incidents. They got rolled by Andrew Breitbart, who pushed a video a day over the span of a week to show just how badly ACORN is operated nationwide. One video would have been dismissed. Two videos would have been a coincidence, but now that we're up to five separate locations filmed showing ACORN employees providing advice on how to break the law, and you can no longer simply ignore the evidence.

Law enforcement and attorney generals nationwide should be opening investigations and auditing the books and records of ACORN to see what kind of mess is truly going on there, but ACORN has powerful friends that are more than willing to look the other way. ACORN has a dual mission - providing homeowner assistance and political organizing.

The homeowner assistance program has been suspended because of the videos, and one has to wonder what they've been advising customers for years on end. Employees with a certain moral and ethical flexibility are more than willing to provide advice on how to engage in illicit conduct, and ACORN employment practices appear not to weed out those people who are willing to break the law or look the other way.

Government funds ACORN operations across the nation via pork (member items) and outright grants through Housing and Urban Development to provide homeowner assistance. All these programs and funding needs to be scrutinized because of the level of advice being offered.

Politicians that are willing to overlook this criminality ought to themselves be scrutinized for their willingness to continue funding organizations that do a grave disservice to the communities they claim to represent. After all, politicians provide member items (pork to ACORN), and ACORN and its affiliates, including the WFP support and organize on behalf of political candidates.

These are some of the ties that bind:
One of them is Bill de Blasio, the Brooklyn city councilman in a tough runoff election for Public Advocate against Mark Green.

In January, ACORN endorsed de Blasio, who spent nearly $43,000 in campaign funds to hire an ACORN affiliate, N.Y. Citizens Services Inc., for "field staff," "consulting" and "canvassing" leading up to last Tuesday's primary.

As a councilman, the Brooklyn Democrat sponsored or co-sponsored a total of $115,000 in taxpayer dollars for ACORN and an affiliate, the New York Agency for Community Affairs.

He was also endorsed by the Working Families Party, which ACORN helped create and shares office space with, after spending $67,740 to hire WFP's for-profit arm, Data and Field Services, for campaign consulting. He also got $33,000 as a "consultant" for a WFP affiliate.
That's just the most egregious case. There are others:
In the last three years, more than 20 Council members, state assemblymen and state senators sponsored nearly $1.75 million in taxpayer money for various ACORN groups in New York.

That raises conflict of interest questions for pols who also seek the group's endorsement.

Dick Dadey of the nonpartisan watchdog group Citizens Union said the conflict was "more perceived than actual," but added it "doesn't look good" for ACORN's political committee to endorse pols when a related entity gets money "from those same officials."

In this election ACORN, endorsed de Blasio and dozens of council members, including controller hopeful John Liu, as well as many state legislators.

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