Politics

Issa Report finds ACORN Fraud, SEIU Connections

Republicans on the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee have released a new report leveling fresh allegations and evidence of corruption against the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN.  

Entitled “Follow the Money: ACORN, SEIU and their Political Allies,” the report presents information gleaned from committee investigations into hundreds of bank accounts, shell organizations incorporated under myriad sections of the internal revenue code, even an ACORN-directed accounting firm, Citizens Consulting Inc., charged with obscuring the trail and use of funding streams pouring into ACORN from taxpayers and charitable contributions alike.

The report includes a blistering executive summary of four crucial findings:
 
1.  ACORN and SEIU entered into illegal agreements that constitute a criminal conspiracy.
 
Investigators found that ACORN CEO Bertha Lewis, Executive Director Steven Kest, and Political Operations Director Zach Polett have actual or apparent authority over ACORN’s activities and then identified a pattern of alleged criminal acts.  

2. ACORN and SEIU are substantially intertwined using a “Muscle for the Money” component

According to the new report, a combination of electioneering, intimidation and threats of litigation have been refined into an art form to force private corporations and government officials alike into deals and political compromises at the expense of taxpayers.
 
Documents produced new revelations including:

* receipt by ACORN of $5,609,338.00 dollars from the Service Employees International Union, the same union that used violence to intimidate townhall activists protesting Obamacare last summer;
* Florida state senator Anthony Hill was simultaneously employed by SEIU and ACORN; Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), former Governor Rod Blagojevich (D-Ill.), and Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) have received the support of SEIU’s ACORN affiliates.

3. ACORN, as a corporation, is responsible for submitting thousands of fraudulent U.S. voter registrations
 
Examinations of documentation from state election offices reveals late filing dumps of volumes of fraudulent voter registration cards the report found were intended to overwhelm the system in an effort compromise free and fair elections promised in the Constitution of the United States.
 
4. ACORN contributed to the risky sub-prime lending that led to the U.S. housing bubble financial collapse.
 
From the report summary:

“ACORN drafted language to loosen underwriting standards and decrease down payments in the housing industry, paving the way for the high rate of subprime loans millions of Americans eventually defaulted on.

“ACORN used provisions in the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 that allowed community groups to challenge bank mergers and acquisitions if a bank did not adequately invest in its own community. These challenges, which featured ACORN’s standard intimidation tactics, successfully forced banks to make lending agreements with ACORN Housing. If banks refused ACORN’s demands, they jeopardized approval of mergers in a timely manner. ACORN Housing moved to become a conventional service provider for the loans. ACORN reaped profits from over a billion dollars in loans to low-income neighborhoods. Because of the policies and financial instruments developed, in part through ACORN’s lobbying activities, borrowers eventually defaulted on the loans. The end result was the bursting of the housing bubble.

“ACORN Housing received a total of $39,925,620.13 from Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase & Co., CitiBank, HSBC, CapitalOne, and SunTrust. These lenders and banks also provided ACORN with grants, address and bank account information of at-risk homeowners so ACORN could provide free counseling services. Instead, ACORN used the address and bank account information to target struggling Americans who would be signed up as dues-paying members of ACORN. ACORN’s membership recruiting brought in $48 million a year for ACORN — a boon for their Muscle for Money program.”

The report also reveals how taxpayer money is still being channeled to ACORN despite the passage of legislation to end taxpayer support.

From the report:

“In response to the [Continuing Resolution] that cut their funding, ACORN sued the United States of America in the Federal District Court in the Eastern District of New York, arguing that the CR constituted an unconstitutional Bill of Attainder, or punishment without the due process guarantees of a judicial trial. Judge Nina Gershon, a federal judge, presided over the case. On December 11, 2009, Judge Gershon issued an injunction against the United States – an order preventing the United State from enforcing the CR – the funding ban against ACORN. However, as the Justice Department argued, the issue was moot because the CR expired December 18, 2009. Fortunately for ACORN, Judge Gershon allowed ACORN to amend its pleadings and challenge all of the anti-ACORN laws, including Public Laws 111-117, 111-88, and 111-118 as unconstitutional bills of attainder. According to the Louisiana Department of Justice, ACORN is nearing financial bankruptcy, as most of its donors have cut ties with the corporation. However, under Judge Gershon’s decision, ACORN will continue to receive taxpayer dollars from the Federal Government. In other words, the American people will have BAILED OUT ACORN.”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Ca.), top Republican on the Oversight committee, released the report.

“Perceptions that ACORN is a charitable organization are simply wrong and part of ACORN’s efforts to deceive the American people,” Issa said.  “ACORN is a political machine that uses a complex corporate web, connections to the SEIU, and powerful political allies to break laws in pursuit of a partisan agenda.  This report shines more disinfecting sunlight on ACORN’s secretive methods of abusing taxpayer funds and charitable donations.  This report shines more disinfecting sunlight on ACORN’s secretive methods of abusing taxpayer funds and charitable donations.”

Issa is speaking this afternoon before the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C.  The CPAC conference is being televised live on C-SPAN.

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