04.16.2010 0

SEIU Continued ACORN Funding Through 2009, Despite Scandals

By Kevin Mooney –

What happens when your employees are unwittingly caught on videotape describing to investigators how they can arrange for illegal loans, mortgage fraud, tax evasion and international child sex slavery?

The answer is you receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from organized labor; including $60,000 from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and its affiliates.

Even as Congressional and corporate benefactors backed away from ACORN last year in response to questionable financial practices, the SEIU and other unions groups continued to plow contributions into the beleaguered network of self-described community organizers.

An investigation organized last year captured ACORN workers in Baltimore, Maryland, Brooklyn, N.Y. and San Bernardino, Calif. on videotape telling the undercover duo of James O’ Keefe and Hannah Giles how they could manipulate financial documents, set up prostitution services and facilitate human trafficking. O’Keefe posed as pimp and Giles as a prostitue. Congress then proceeded to cut off public funding.

ACORN, which stands for the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now, announced that as of April 1 it was disbanding. Bertha Lewis, the CEO of ACORN, cited financial hardships in a press statement.

“ACORN has faced a series of well-orchestrated, relentless, well-funded right wing attacks that are unprecedented since the McCarthy era,” she said. “The videos were a manufactured, sensational story that led to a rush to judgment and an unconstitutional act by Congress.”

Meanwhile, Andy Stern, the SEIU president, abruptly announced just a few days ago that he is stepping down as the union’s leader. Under his watch, the SEIU emerged as a powerful political force on behalf of far-left, anti-free market causes. It also became closely intertwined with ACORN and its various affiliates.

U.S. Department of Labor financial disclosure forms show SEIU contributed about $8.7 million to the national ACORN organization, its state chapters and allied groups, since 2005. All told, these same disclosure forms show that labor has contributed over $10 million to the community organizers in this same time period.

The 2009 LM-2 disclosure forms show that SEIU Local 32 donated $25,400 to the national ACORN organization, Local Union 1 donated $32,791 to the ACORN Community labor Training Center and the national SEIU donated $37,878 to the ACORN Labor Partnership.

In reality, SEIU and ACORN are financially and politically co-dependent. SEIU Locals 100 and 880 are among the allied organizations. Financial disclosure forms point to over $600,000 in transactions between these same SEIU locals and other ACORN operations.

A 2007 LM-2 form shows SEIU Local 880, which is active in Illinois and Minnesota, donated $60,118 to ACORN for “membership services.” But it is in the realm of political activity that SEIU has concentrated the bulk of its resources.

In just the past six years, ACORN has received almost $6 million from SEIU for these efforts, according to a new report from the House Oversight Committee. SEIU also shares offices with ACORN in nine cities, this same report shows. Moreover, Wade Rathke, who founded ACORN, has served on SEIU’s board.

One of the most aggressive and successful joint SEIU-ACORN nationwide campaigns known as “Muscle for Money” targets corporations and top officers who resist union demands. Some of the more high profile targets have included the Carlyle Group, Sherwin-Williams, H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt, Liberty Tax and Money Mart, according to Anita MonCrief, a former ACORN insider who testified against the organization.

The biggest “Muscle for Money” score came against H&R Block, which agreed to set up tax centers for ACORN members in exchange for ending its campaign against the corporation, MonCrief has noted. H&R Block has refused to discuss the particulars of its agreement with the liberal community activist group.

ACORN has received at least $53 million in federal funds since 1994 federal spending data shows, and could remain eligible for $8.5 billion in federal taxpayer dollars.

In addition to the $3 billion available in the stimulus package, the proposed $47.5 billion Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) budget provides $1 billion for an affordable housing trust fund and $4.5 billion in community development block grant funds that could be funneled to ACORN indirectly, according to the Capital Research Center (CRC).

Although Congress moved to cut off funding for ACORN last year, U.S. District Judge Nina Gershon temporarily suspended the law. In response, Peter Orszag, Obama’s OMB director, sent a memo telling federal agencies that it was permissible to reactivate their funding for ACORN.

Moreover, there is any number of liberal foundations that never cut off ACORN in the first place to say nothing of organized labor. The Teachers AFL-CIO Local Union 2 was particularly generous in 2009 donating over $300,000 to ACORN’s Brooklyn, New York branch.

Even as the organization supposedly melts away, state chapters are obtaining nonprofit status on their own as advocacy groups under section 501c4 of the tax code, according to Matthew Vadum, a senior analyst and editor with CRC. This is significant because 501c4 status makes it possible for the new entities to conceal their financial activities.

ACORN Housing, which was at the epicenter of the video investigation, has renamed itself Affordable Housing Centers of America. Other affiliates have followed suit: California ACORN is now Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, and New York ACORN has become New York Communities for Change.

The left wing apparatus that operated under the ACORN banner is not dismantling anymore than Andy Stern is retiring; it is instead re-marketing and rebranding itself under less radioactive, generic sounding names with more than a little help from the SEIU and other labor groups.

Meanwhile, the Obama Administration has moved to roll back the very same financial disclosure requirements that first exposed the links between ACORN and SEIU. In retrospect, the name changes may have been superfluous.

Kevin Mooney is the Executive Editor of TimesCheck.com and a Liberty Features contributor for Americans for Limited Government.

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