Given President Obama’s long and close ties to ACORN, it is understandable that he should have distanced himself as long as possible from the latest and most heinous ACORN scandal: the capture on video of employees in at least five different ACORN offices avidly coaching activists, posing as a pimp and prostitute, in how to set up child-prostitution brothels and commit housing fraud. In the latest of these undercover videos, one staffer went so far as to offer to assist in smuggling a dozen underage girls into the U.S. as sex slaves.
But this past weekend, when asked during an ABC interview about the videos, President Obama had no choice but to respond. What the videos reveal, he said, “was certainly inappropriate and deserves to be investigated.”
Backpedaling, he did not specify who should do the investigating and played down his knowledge of the organization and its misdeeds. “I didn’t even know,” he added, “that ACORN was getting a whole lot of federal money.” He went on to stonewall about whether he would support cutting off federal funds to the vast umbrella group (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, whose stated mission is to counsel low-income communities and which has received far upward of $53 million in taxpayer money).
Long before the latest scurrilous revelations, the organization had nationally gained a reputation for rampant voter-registration fraud; aggressive, even physical, shaking down of businesses; and, most recently, blatant tax-cheating.
Obama’s playing dumb about ACORN is disingenuous in the extreme. His longstanding activist, political, and financial connections to the group, as Stanley Kurtz showed prior to the presidential election, are wide and deep. Indeed, they constitute his most significant and enduring tie to the anti-capitalist and revolutionary “New Left” movement of the 1960s.
Sol Stern writes that ACORN sprang from “one of this movement’s silliest and most destructive groups, the National Welfare Rights Organization.” The NWRO’s strategy was to eliminate welfare requirements and overwhelm welfare offices with clients, simultaneously staging disruptions and sit-ins, in order to bring about “a radical reconstruction of America’s unjust capitalist economy.”
Obama could have only been buying into this vision by intimately allying himself with ACORN and its ilk over the years.
In his pre-law school years as a community organizer in Chicago, Obama was brought into ACORN’s orbit by the group’s city leader Madeleine Talbot, who recruited him into training her own staff. Though some years after Obama’s early organizing work, it was Talbot who masterminded a display of what radicals term “direct action”: she and her fellow activists stormed a session of the Chicago City Council, preventing participants from entering the session. Afterward, taken off in handcuffs and charged with disorderly conduct and mob action, she stoutly defended the organization’s strong-arm tactics.
Whether or not Obama himself instructed ACORN demonstrators in such strategies, his activist friends report he did help to devise plans involving intimidation, for instance, in a “surprise visit” to Chicago officials debating a landfill expansion. Activists surrounded the group, haranguing against it and then marching out.
Whatever Obama’s actual instruction on activist tactics, he remained a major annual player in the group’s leadership-training seminars. It is absurd to deny that for many years he has been in the know about ACORN’s essential character and predilection for taking disruptive action.
In a recent article, journalists Ginger Adams Otis and Tim Perone summarize Obama’s political and other ties to the supposedly non-partisan ACORN during his post-law school years.
During that period, he played a role in organizing a campaign by “Project Vote,” a group directly allied with ACORN, to register 150,000 voters in Chicago.
He was part of a legal team that represented ACORN when it sued Citibank on behalf of African-Americans who had applied for loans in the early 1990s, arguing that the bank was not granting mortgages in a “race-neutral way.” He again represented ACORN when the group sued Illinois, claiming the state was violating federal voting access law.
ACORN operatives then served as advance troops for Obama in his early political campaigns, prompting Stanley Kurtz to label him “the senator from ACORN.”
During the presidential primary, Obama worked with Citizen Services, Inc., a consulting firm that is an offshoot of ACORN, to assist voter turnout. He paid the organization $800,000. According to Michelle Malkin, moneys flow back and forth between the two groups.
More broadly, asserts political analyst Hans von Spakovsky, the Democratic Party uses ACORN subsidiaries like “foot soldiers” even while they deny being directly related to ACORN. The group, he says, “transfers money between its subsidiaries — and nobody knows for sure how many there are. A lot of these subsidiaries get paid by Democratic campaigns as consultants.”
Are the proper legal “firewalls” among these subsidiaries maintained? For example, is there any connection between the Obama-connected, voter-turnout offshoot of ACORN, Citizen Services, Inc., and ACORN’s book-keeping arm, Citizens Consulting, Inc.? Louisiana, writes Deroy Murdock, has documented a long list of withholding-tax payments that the latter ACORN tentacle has failed to make.
Finally, there are potential links between Obama and ACORN while he served on the boards of the philanthropic Woods Fund and the Joyce Foundation. Thus, while staying within the boundaries of the law, Obama may have had the opportunity to channel significant amounts of money to his organized political cadres within ACORN.
Given the extent of Obama and ACORN’s root-and-branch entanglement — all of which merits more attention — it is hard to imagine Obama seriously confronting the group despite its most recent, repellent behavior involving prostitution and fraud.
Nonetheless, might there be a ray of hope in a new AP story stating that “an internal watchdog” at the Justice Department is examining the agency’s involvement with ACORN?
Will Obama back Congress in cutting off funding to ACORN and demand that the Justice Department launch a full-fledged criminal investigation of the organization? Will he support the latest calls for Congress to rescind the tax-exempt status of ACORN and its web of subsidiaries?
If so, he would be severing himself from what Stern described as the group’s history of “undisguised authoritarian socialism” — its lawless and coercive approach to implementing its anti-free market agenda and fundamentally re-defining this nation.
But more likely Obama, in matters of ideology, politics, and money, is too intertwined with radical entities such as ACORN to turn back. Likely this man, at the pinnacle of world power, will act to sustain the organization.
The group seems to think so. In the words of one of its state organizers, after one of its latest voter-registration fraud indictments: “People always come forward to our defense. We’re just community organizers, just like the president used to be.”
But ACORN is not the Salvation Army or Catholic Charities. Rather, it is an entrenched revolutionary behemoth. And the frightening thing is that Obama, in charge of the fate of this nation, may just share ACORN’s destructive aspirations.