Skip to comments.Harshbarger Whitewashes ACORN Lawbreaking
Posted on 12/09/2009 8:57:00 AM PST by jazusamo
The context here is a series of headline-making amateur undercover videos released on the Internet and network television this past September. A pair of young conservative activists, James O'Keefe, 25, and Hannah Giles, 20, respectively, a law student and a columnist, posed as a pimp and his prostitute applying for mortgage and/or small business assistance at ACORN offices in five U.S. cities: Baltimore, Washington, D.C., New York City (Brooklyn), San Bernardino and San Diego. It was an audacious experiment on a $1,300 budget. And it worked. With the camera rolling, the couple caught various low-level ACORN employees in the act of giving advice on how to break the law to obtain financial aid. The recordings, posted on www.BigGovernment.com and aired on the Fox News Channel, showed the employees ready and willing to assist O'Keefe and Giles on the finer points of tax evasion, human trafficking, and child prostitution.
The videos proved highly embarrassing and costly to ACORN, especially as the group was trying to rehabilitate its image following revelations that its founder and longtime chief organizer, Wade Rathke, had been covering for his brother's embezzlement of around $950,000 in organization funds for nearly a decade. Soon enough, the U.S. Census Bureau terminated ACORN as a participant in the 2010 Census, while the IRS dropped ACORN as a partner in its volunteer tax-preparation assistance program. A chastened House and Senate each voted overwhelmingly to end federal funding for ACORN, though at this date have not finalized legislation. Egg on her face, ACORN chief organizer-CEO Bertha Lewis (see photo) announced that her group would be suspending taking on any new clients pending the results of an internal audit.
The job of the audit - that is, an audit geared toward exoneration without making the intent too obvious - fell upon Scott Harshbarger. Now 68, Harshbarger is a Harvard Law School graduate who went on to serve as District Attorney for Middlesex County, Massachusetts (1983-91), Attorney General for Massachusetts (1991-99) and president of Common Cause (1999-02). Currently, he's senior counsel to the Boston law firm of Proskauer Rose LLP. When the probe was announced on September 22, ACORN believed they had a man ideally suited to get to the bottom of things and propose lasting reforms.
After a two-month probe, Harshbarger has released a 47-page report. The conclusion: ACORN is innocent. Harshbarger summarized his report this way: "We did not find a pattern of intentional, illegal conduct by ACORN staff involved; in fact, no action, illegal or otherwise, was ever taken by any ACORN employee on behalf of the videographers. Instead, the videos represent the byproduct of ACORN's longstanding management weaknesses, including a lack of training, a lack of procedures and a lack of onsite supervision." ACORN leaders, he added, "appear committed to effect reform and are on their way to preserving ACORN and its mission in a reduced size and scope." Harshbarger called upon the nonprofit network group to return to its community organizing roots and to hire an independent ethics officer to oversee an internal reform program already underway.
The Harshbarger report, in other words, sees ACORN's problems as logistical rather than legal. This is music to the eyes and ears of the group's officials and allies. CEO Bertha Lewis describes the report as "part vindication, part constructive criticism and 100 percent road map to the future." Michael Keegan, president of the Left-leaning nonprofit activist group, People for the American Way, praised the report for its "sorely needed perspective." He added: "In recent years the group has been accused by its opponents of doing just about everything, and no claim has been too wild to be passed off as fact. If ACORN's antagonists are to be believed, the group stole the 2008 election, is responsible for the housing mortgage meltdown, and will receive billions in federal bailout funds."
Such statements fairly burst with evasion. The group's critics include not only "right-wingers," but also investigators for the federal government and over a dozen states, plus former ACORN members-turned-whistleblowers. In Missouri, Colorado and elsewhere, voter registration fraud probes have yielded indictments and guilty pleas from any number of street-level ACORN operatives. This past summer, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., oversaw the preparation and release of an 88-page report providing overwhelming evidence that ACORN, by intent, has been structured as a criminal enterprise and is thus ripe for prosecution under federal anti-racketeering statutes. Congressman Issa, Ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, commenting yesterday on the Harshbarger report, asked, "How surprising is it that a report paid for by ACORN exonerates them?"
Adding fuel to the fire that ACORN's self-reform program is more show than substance is the fact of its refusal to drop a civil lawsuit it filed in September in Maryland court against James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles, based on the pair's sting of the Baltimore office. The suit, which claims the video violated a state ban on taping without the consent of both parties, also lists as a co-defendant Andrew Breitbart; it was Breitbart who posted the couple's videos on his BigGovernment.com website. Apparently, ACORN's defenders see knowingly giving advice on how to evade taxes, falsify mortgage loan application data, and smuggle illegal-immigrant child prostitutes as not really illegal. And they see those who complain of these things as mere fringe Rightists, aching for revenge for last year's election results - never mind that those results in part likely owed to ACORN voter registration fraud on a substantial scale.
Even if ACORN wins the case, there's a much larger issue: Any time low-level employees across an organization act in brazen defiance of criminal law, they assuredly had the tacit and possible overt approval of their higher-ups. ACORN was founded nearly 40 years ago as a project to promote economic equality at whatever cost to liberty. Adherence to the law, in its eyes, is but an impediment to the larger goal of lifting the poor into the mainstream of society. Founder-cult figure Wade Rathke may be gone from the scene - he was dismissed by the ACORN board in June 2008 - but the ideas animating the organization remain as alive as ever. The Obama administration would not have been possible without ACORN and community organizing groups like it. In exposing ACORN, investigative reporters - and video makers - are exposing a political culture of corruption that operates under the guise of the pursuit of social justice. Scott Harshbarger apparently prefers to turn a blind eye from that culture.
The undersigned State Board delegates and National Board members of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) file this criminal complaint against ACORN Staff and Executive Board members for fraud, embezzlement, conspiracy and concealment, and criminal civil rights violations. Additionally, since there has already been the public admission that a felony was committed, it is also possible that other federal offenses have also been committed including but not limited to;
Title 18 U.S.C. §1341, Mail Fraud,
18 U.S.C.§1001, Presenting a False Document to an Agent of the United States Government;
18 U.S.C.§1027 False statements and concealment of facts in relation to documents required by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 and other possible offenses including civiland/or criminal RICO violations.
18 U.S.C. §§1961-68 (RICO Act)
18 U.S.C. §1001 (False Statements to Agents of the U.S. Government),
18 U.S.C. §1341 (Mail Fraud),
18 U.S.C. §1027 (ERISA Violations),
18 U.S.C. §241 (Conspiracy Against Civil Rights).
Finally, the complainants contend that full investigations of a RICO conspiracy under 18U.S.C. §1962(c) are warranted because they assert that (1) the defendant persons (2) were employed by or associated with an enterprise (3) that engaged in or affected interstate commerce and that (4) the defendant persons operated or managed the enterprise (5) through a pattern (6) of racketeering activity, and (7) the complaints were injured in its business or property by reason of the pattern of racketeering activity.
Thus, the complainants feel that a formal RICO investigationis also warranted. 1. The Alleged Offense:The Complainants hereby allege a violation of Title 18 U.S.C. §241 Conspiracy Against Constitutional Rights which prohibits in relevant part, two or more persons (from conspiring) to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same . . . See, 18 U.S.C. §241.
BACKGROUND ACORN, or the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, is acommunity-based advocacy organization founded in 1970. ACORN became part of the story of the 2008 presidential election as news reports and allegations surfaced against ACORN in a number of states. These complaints refer primarily to alleged irregularities with voter registrationdrives conducted by the organization. (National Review Online: Inside Obama's ACORN, May 29, 2008.) But also included significant embezzlement and concealment by Senior Staff and Executive Committee members.
ACORN registered as a non-profit corporation with the Secretary of State in Louisiana in 1977. Its Charter Organization ID is 04700320X. According to its corporate filings, ACORN's principle place of business is New Orleans, Louisiana, and approximately 294 related entitiesand related non-profits are also located at this place of business. ACORN is not registered as a tax-exempt organization.
ACORN's top three officers are President Maude Hurd of Dorchester, MA, Vice President Maria Polanco of Brooklyn, NY, and Secretary Maxine A. Nelson of Pine Bluff, AR. (Bertha Lewis recently became ACORN CEO) Maxine A. Nelson is also the director of Project Vote.
Citizens Consulting, Inc. (CCI) provides bookkeeping, human resource and financial management services exclusively for ACORN and related entities. All of CCIs clients reside at ACORN office locations, utilize common management and staff. CCI is the financial nerve center for ACORN and it affiliated organizations which houses the corporate books and records for all ACORN entities.
ACORN Structure ACORN was founded by Wade Rathke, an activist on issues of labor unions and lowincome workers, and Gary Delgado, an activist on issues of race and social justice. It has national headquarters in New York, New Orleans and Washington, D.C. The organization describes itself as a non-profit, non-partisan social justice organization. In 2003,
ACORN opened operations in 20 new cities, including 5 state capitals. The group claims about 350,000 members across the country. (Wall Street Journal: Obama and ACORN, October 14, 2008).
Since 1970, ACORN has grown to more than 400,000 member families, organized in 1,200 neighborhood chapters in 110 citiesacross the U.S. and in cities in Canada, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Peru, Argentina and India.
ACORN Funding--Government grants: According to an October 8, 2008 article in the New York Post, 40% of ACORN'soperations are funded through grants it receives from various governmental entities. (New York Post: The Pro-Barack Vote-Fraud Drive, Michelle Malkin, Oct. 8, 2008)
Grants have been issued to ACORN by the Dept of Housing and Urban Development, which gave $8.2 million to ACORN in the years between 2003 and 2006, as well as $1.6 million to ACORN affiliates. The Environmental Protection Agency gave a $100,000 grant to ACORN in 2004 for a Louisiana Justice Project, which removed lead from the homes of low income families. The Justice Department also gave a grant to ACORN in 2005 for a juvenile delinquency program. (NPR: ACORN's Money Tree Has Many Branches, October 15, 2008). --
Have you heard the one about the pimp, prostitute, politician and the community organizer? Well, thanks to San Diego private investigator Derrick Roach, Californians are not laughing at what is turning into a political nightmare for California Attorney General Jerry Brown and ACORN. On Tuesday, November 24, Attorney General Brown appeared on KABCs Peter Tilden Show after it was revealed that some 20,000 documents had been thrown into a National City dumpster by ACORN employees.
The documents were thrown out in advance of state investigators arriving at the local ACORN office to conduct an investigation resulting from national media attention.
ACORN employee Juan Carlos Vera was videotaped giving advice to two individuals posing as a pimp and a prostitute regarding underage prostitution and human smuggling. Without admitting any wrongdoing ACORN terminated Mr. Vera, or so they said. Documents provided to BigGovernment.com show that Mr. Vera was not terminated but was simply laid off, implying that Mr. Vera is also eligible for rehire. (The document also notes that Mr. Vera was laid off due to restructuring related to videotaping incident.) (Excerpt) Read more at biggovernment.com ...
What was found in the San Diego ACORN document dump ?
>> the inner workings of ACORN in California,
>> sensitive personal information of ACORN employees, members, clients,
>> SS nos, drivers license numbers, immigration records, and tax returns,
>> ACORNs entire political agenda laid bare,
>> thousands upon thousands of documents revealing the depth of ACORN's corrupt political machine,
>> ACORN's disturbing ties to public employee labor unions, to radical leftist groups,
>> could expose those politicians in cahoots with ACORN.
Q. Are there laws governing how discards of personal info should be handled? ACORN dumped sensitive personal information on ACORN employees, members, clients---SS nos, drivers license numbers, immigration records, and tax returns
A. California has had a personal information destruction law since January 1, 2001. Businesses must destroy, or arrange for destruction of, all records w/ personal information that they no longer wish to retain.
LINK TO LAW HERE http://www.taxnewsandtips.com/ab_2246_bill.pdf
More info here: http://www.calshredding.com/laws.php (BigGovernment.com blogger's post)
ACORN also trashed applications for public assistance. Could be they were engaged in govt fraud......making fraudulent applications for Food Stamps using different identities, then selling the food stamps on the street. San Ysidro supermarkets should account for who is using foodstamps.
ACORN's San Diego office is a border down. An applicant could live in Tijuana and have a PO Box across the Border in San Ysidro 15 minutes south of San Diego. They could ride the US gravy train and collect Welfare, Food Stamps, SSI, Medicaid, Healthy Families subsidies, UI, Workman's Comp, SS# checks and EITC refunds under several identities.....and actually live in Tijuana, Mexico.
They could be (1) American Citizens living in Tijuana, (2) Mexican Citizens with a Green Card, or, (3) illegal aliens who get friends or relatives to pick up benefit checks and/or foodstamps. (BigGovernment.com blogger's post)
Thanks for your posts, Liz.
Harshbarger is an example of the corruption of the Democrat Party.
“Scott Harshbarger was District Attorney of Middlesex County when three members of the Amirault Family - Violet, her son Gerald, and her daughter Cheryl - were sent to prison for crimes that never occurred. The Amiraults, who for eighteen years had run without incident the successful Fells Acres Day School in Malden, were convicted during a national wave of hysteria over child sexual abuse in day care centers.
This hysteria, and the resulting prosecutions, has been validly compared to the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. Harshbarger can be forgiven for being a victim of the times. But over the past 17 years he has stubbornly refused to look at new evidence that thoroughly discredits the Fells Acres investigations and prosecutions. Violet died a broken woman in 1997. But Gerald remains in prison and Cheryl was almost sent back there.
Scott Harshbarger lacks the integrity to admit that he is capable of making a mistake.”
Harshbarger is scum who got his advancement by railroading innocents. He is in a long line of Mass DA’s who have done that.
Thanks for your post. Harshbarger is everything our justice system is against, it’s a disgrace he’s still practicing law.
Everybody on the panel was either directly or closely connected with the Obama administration. It was a total fabrication and a sham.
That’s right...From the time ACORN called for this investigation it was laughable.
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