Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The ACORN story goes national, some sunlight on the new organization, and lingering questions from ACORN foes in Congress

Well, the New York ACORN story that I broke yesterday (though the Villager had the gist earlier) turned into national news after City Hall News--which has led the investigation into the curious activities of the ACORN-affiliated Working Families Party--advanced the story.

Only Gothamist, however, noticed the Atlantic Yards angle.

New York Communities for Change statement

While the web site of the successor organization, New York Communities for Change, is barebones, City Hall News got some further identifying information:
UPDATE: Jonathan Rosen of BerlinRosen emailed a statement to be attributed to Ann Sullivan, a former ACORN employee who is now identified as being with New York Communities for Change:

New York Communities for Change (NYCC) is a new, locally incorporated organization that was formed by prominent community activists and leaders in the progressive community who are committed to promoting social and economic justice and the welfare of the State of New York and its people. NYCC is applying for status as a corporation exempt from taxation under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(4).

NYCC is not affiliated with any national organization.

NYCC's initial focus will be working to put an end to the foreclosure crisis facing so many New Yorkers, enforcing New York's wage and hour laws, preserving tenant rights and preventing devastating state and local budget cuts that would harm services for low-income families.

NYCC BOARD LIST BELOW

Anthony Cottman--Vice President Parkside Tenant Association, Flatbush, Brooklyn

Linnette Ebanks--Childcare provider. Business owner for 12 years

Iona Emsley--Community activist from Uniondale, Long Island

Audrey Jackman--Longtime community activist in Flatbush Brooklyn

Wilfredo Larancuent--Vice President UNITE HERE

Precilla Lockett--Law Offices of Frederick K. Brewington, Hempstead, Long Island

Ed Ott--Adjunct Professor, City University of NY

Marie Pierre--Former chairperson of Brownsville ACORN

Maria Polanco--Chairperson Dominican Council

Jean Sassine--Foreclosure Fighter and Homedefender, Queens

Neva Shillingford--Vice President 1199
The Issa report

Also in the news regarding ACORN is a report released February 18 by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), titled “Follow the Money: ACORN, SEIU and their Political Allies.”

The report is a mixed bag, as even an ACORN critic at the National Review observes, given that ACORN's political tactics and role in the housing crisis, however worthy of criticism, are overdramatized.

But the investigation makes some serious charges. From the report:
The first ACORN Report explained how ACORN used a complex organizational structure of overlapping nonprofit community initiatives and political lobbying activities to conceal the partisan political use of taxpayer and private monies originally designated for the public benefit.

The report found there was no real separation between ACORN and its affiliates. ACORN is a single corrupt corporate enterprise composed of a series of holding companies and subsidiaries that are financially and operationally dependent upon the main corporation.

This report adds new evidence confirming these previous findings of ACORN’s misconduct in addition to a closer examination of ACORN’s financial transactions and fundraising that define the organization as a political machine.

Committee investigators have identified hundreds of ACORN bank accounts, shell organizations incorporated under different sections of the internal revenue code, and even an ACORN controlled accounting firm (Citizens Consulting Inc.) that helps ACORN obscure the true use of charitable donations and taxpayer funds. Documents and testimony from ACORN whistleblowers reveal that ACORN activities – despite contentions that they are intended to help the poor – fulfill a more self-serving and political purpose for ACORN. ACORN is well aware of the legal problems its political activities create as its own attorneys have acknowledged and outlined the potential for criminal and civil violations in private documents for senior ACORN officials.

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