Obama’s Secret Collaboration with ACORN Bosses
By Matthew Vadum
Former officers of the disgraced radical group ACORN are still advising the Obama administration and guiding its catastrophic far-left policies almost three years after the group filed bankruptcy.
Former ACORN Housing public affairs director Bruce Dorpalen, who now runs the National Housing Resource Center (NHRC), has been meeting with and advising senior Obama administration officials on housing policy, according to good-government group Judicial Watch. The watchdog discovered the secret collaborations after filing a Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) request.
Like a grifter running away from a criminal past, ACORN Housing formally changed its name to Affordable Housing Centers of America (AHCOA) after devastating undercover videos surfaced in 2009. In those videos, masterminded by conservative activists James O’Keefe III and Hannah Giles, ACORN and ACORN Housing intake workers were shown providing advice on setting up a brothel for pedophiles and breaking other laws. The videos launched the late Andrew Breitbart’s website Big Government and generated leftist apoplexy across America.
At the time, ACORN apologists like Joe Conason, Rachel Maddow, David Sirota, and a menagerie of other media Marxists tried to defend ACORN by falsely claiming that the videos had been doctored. A year later the controlling entity in the ACORN network, ACORN Inc., filed bankruptcy after Congress canceled its taxpayer funding and left-wing foundations sprinted away from the group as hard as they could.
“How is it, after the scandals of ACORN and its contribution to the housing crash, that this organization’s former leadership is still able to guide federal housing policy?” said Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton. “It goes to show that Barack Obama truly is the president from ACORN.”
The “smoking-gun documents” Judicial Watch obtained “show the continued collusion” of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and “ACORN spinoffs – and strongly indicate that Barack Obama is still determined to turn the federal government’s housing policy over to the far left,” Fitton said.
According to the documents, Dorpalen is so cozy with Obama officials that he was scheduled to introduce CFPB Director Richard Cordray at a housing counseling forum in December 2012. Dorpalen also met with CFPB regional strategist Keo Chea, Federal Reserve representatives, and Dustin Toomey, executive director of Affordable Housing Centers of PA, an ACORN spinoff group that shares office space with Dorpalen’s NHRC, Judicial Watch said.
The documents also show that Dorpalen met with Thomas J. Curry, Comptroller of the Currency in April 2013. Curry’s office, part of the U.S. Treasury Department, supervises more than 2,000 national banks and federal savings associations around the country.
In May of this year, Dorpalen lobbied federal officials in support of the housing bubble-generating Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). ACORN and other radical activist groups support the CRA with a near-religious fervor even though it hurts more people than it helps.
The financial affirmative action law was enacted in 1977 because liberals were unwilling to recognize that the impoverishment of America’s inner cities was caused largely by their own social engineering schemes and policies. They made the banking industry a scapegoat for their own failures and argued that lending practices that favored people who could actually pay back the money they borrowed were somehow racist and unfair.
Dorpalen quit his post as public affairs director at ACORN Housing in April 2012 to become executive director at the National Housing Resource Center (NHRC) in Philadelphia. Of course, NHRC, a project of the radical left-wing Tides philanthropic network made infamous by Glenn Beck, operates out of ACORN’s old North Broad Street, Philadelphia office.
Other ACORN officials haven’t allowed ACORN’s 2010 bankruptcy filing to get in the way of lobbying the Obama White House and the Justice Department that is run by Obama capo Eric Holder. Lawyer Estelle H. Rogers, director of advocacy at ACORN-affiliated Project Vote, has met with a senior aide to Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett and with Van Jones’s former chief of staff. (Obama used to work for Project Vote and he trained ACORN organizers.)
ACORN operative Patrick Gaspard, a former senior SEIU 1199 official, is now U.S. ambassador to South Africa. He was political affairs director in the Obama White House, the same title Karl Rove held in President Bush’s administration. Gaspard also served as executive director of the Democratic National Committee. Like Obama, Gaspard is well schooled in the brutal, street-smart organizing tactics taught by the late Saul Alinsky, author of Rules for Radicals.
The largest branch of ACORN – ACORN Housing Corp.— died last year despite infusions of taxpayer cash from the Obama administration. The regime had long-time ACORN supplicant Shaun Donovan serve as bag man. The left-wing bureaucrat is currently HUD secretary after doing ACORN’s bidding for years as New York mayor Michael Bloomberg’s housing development commissioner.
According to a federal government database, as of yesterday at close of business there was still no AHCOA bankruptcy petition on file with U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago where AHCOA/ACORN Housing was headquartered. With such a large, multi-million dollar taxpayer-funded nonprofit organization, the absence of a bankruptcy filing in itself is suspicious and worthy of official scrutiny. If AHCOA had assets at the time it shut down, it’s difficult to learn where they’ve gone.
Judicial Watch reported reported in August this year that HUD Assistant Secretary for Office of Housing Counseling Sarah Gerecke “may have violated federal law by requesting that $201,222.07 be transferred from the account of the defunct” AHCOA to a HUD intermediary in Flint, Mich., called Mission for Peace “to specifically pay for the activities of former AHCOA affiliates.” Under HUD’s “grant replacement” rule, unspent grant monies can sometimes be transferred to an entity other than the original grantee. The problem in this case is that Congress passed a law in 2009 barring federal funding of ACORN and its affiliated groups.
In its day ACORN Housing built hundreds of low-income housing units in Chicago, Dallas, Little Rock, and Phoenix and was a big, fat cash cow for the ACORN network, providing significant funding for its neo-communist community organizing. Since 1997, ACORN Housing has shelled out more than $5.1 million in fees or grants to other entities in the ACORN network.
These intra-network transactions were disturbing because out of all of ACORN’s affiliates, ACORN Housing was the most dependent on taxpayers for support and had a long history of abusing taxpayer funds. In 2008 alone, over 67 percent of gift and grants to ACORN Housing came from U.S. taxpayers and Bank of America.
As I wrote in my book, Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers, ACORN Housing grew out of the crime of squatting (or redistribution-by-trespassing). The nonprofit emerged from a series of activist projects in which ACORN built a squatters’ tent city behind the White House in 1982.
ACORN Housing also helped to inflate the mortgage bubble. It bragged in a 1999 pamphlet that it had strong-armed banks into accepting food stamps and welfare as income on home loan applications. The same pamphlet called the American Dream a sham. There may be isolated “stories of hope and success” in some communities, but “they also belie the supposition that if you simply work hard, sacrifice and save, you can easily buy a home of your own,” it read.
Encouraging homeownership among people dependent on government relief programs for their survival makes sense only to radical leftists pathologically preoccupied with economic egalitarianism and to those aspiring to destroy the financial system.
At least 30 or so new ACORN groups have popped up across America and a labor union that was part of the ACORN network is now enrolling people in Obamacare exchanges. The bargaining unit, Local 100 of United Labor Unions, is headed by ACORN founder Wade Rathke. Rathke was expelled from ACORN in 2008 for orchestrating a years-long cover-up of a million-dollar embezzlement committed by his younger brother, at the time ACORN’s chief financial officer. The elder Rathke now runs ACORN International (known in the U.S. as Community Organizations International) which has national affiliates in Canada, Peru, Kenya, India, South Korea, Dominican Republic, and elsewhere.
The new ACORN groups in the U.S. were created after ACORN Inc. filed for bankruptcy in November 2010, but some were formed in anticipation of the bankruptcy. ACORN’s state-level chapters have incorporated as new nonprofit corporations. Among the most prominent are New York Communities for Change, Texas Organizing Project, Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE), and Association of Californians for Community Empowerment.
Former ACORN staffers control these new organizations — just as they control various agencies of the Obama administration.